A two-hour drive from Skopje takes you to one of the most beautiful and preserved natural sites on the Balkans, the Jakupica mountain. It is one of the most popular destinations for mountain climbing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, and similar mountain activities in Macedonia. Its highest peak, Solunska Glava (2,540 m / 8,333 ft above sea level) is among the favorite destinations for mountaineers in Macedonia. We have climbed the peak many times before the kids were born. This was our first time with them and although we didn’t climb the peak (not even intended to), we took the short route to Dolna Babina Dupka. It is a place below Solunska Glava from which you can enjoy the magnificent view on the Nezilovska Stena (Nezilovo Rock) and the peak itself.
The route we are suggesting starts in the village of Papradiste. The tour can be easily carried out in two days. You can get to the village of Papradiste by car (a two-hour drive from the capital of Skopje) or by train. If you take the train, you should catch the early one for Bitola (departing at 06:40 h from the central train station in Skopje.) It will take you to the village of Bogomila where you should get off and take a taxi to Papradiste. Ask the locals for the cab drivers if they are not already at the train station in Bogomila. Once you get to Papradiste, take the hiking trail to Ceples. It’s a 3-hour easy climb through the forest.
We expanded the tour to three days, wanting to explore the surroundings of Papradiste more. It was during the Easter holidays at the end of April. On this trip, we were accompanied by our dear friends and relatives, Marko and Joana, whose company we truly enjoyed. We arrived on the first day in the village, settled at the local mountaineers’ house and took a two-hour walk through the deep forest surrounding Papradiste. Afterward, we had dinner and watched the stars for a while before we went to sleep.
The mornings at the village of Papradiste are awesome. The sun rises just opposite of the schoolyard, where the mountaineers’ house is situated now. The birds which sang all night kept their song going on throughout the entire morning. After some exercise and a quick fruity breakfast, we set off to Ceples.
Ceples is a mountain hut located in the forest at an altitude of 1.400 m / 4.593 ft. The three-hour trekking route became a six-hour relaxed stroll for us. We enjoyed every landscape, every meadow, creeks, waterfalls, and the depths of the forest. Jakupica Mountain is far away from large cities and it’s one of the cleanest parts of Macedonia. It has a vast area covered in dense forest, with both evergreen and deciduous trees, especially beech, oak, and conifer.
We arrived at the mountain hut of Ceples just before sunset. There’s a kitchen where you can prepare some hot food (don’t forget to bring your own food, the last point with a store on this tour is the village of Bogomila.) The accommodation costs 350 MKD (5.5 EUR / 7 USD) per person for a private room and 250 MKD per person for a shared room.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast we started climbing towards Dolna Babina Dupka, situated at an altitude of 1680 m / 5.511 ft. The path takes you through a dense forest with some really old and tall trees. There are signs along the way so you can’t get lost.
After half an hour we arrived at the spot. It’s one of the most beautiful landscapes on the whole mountain. With a spectacular view on Solunska Glava and the magnificent Nezilovo Rock, Dolna Babina Dupka is the perfect place to spend several hours in peace and quiet. Don’t get carried away because the climb down to Papradiste will take you at least 3 hours!
- If you want to make the tour in two days (which is just enough in spring and summer) you can skip Papradiste and go to the village of Nezilovo instead. Located at about the same distance from Bogomila (where the train stops) it’s much closer to Ceples. The mountain trail will take you straight to the mountain hut in less than two hours. That way you’ll have more time to spend at Ceples and explore the area.
- The springs of Babuna River is another awesome site which is accessible from Ceples in one day. If you’re traveling without kids, you can put an extra effort and climb the peak of Solunska Glava. All you have to do is wake up and get on the road before 6 AM.
- Best time to make this tour is in spring, summer or early autumn when the days are still long enough. Don’t attempt this adventure in winter unless you are an experienced mountain hiker.
- You should pack some warm clothes and take them with you even if the day is very hot. The nights are always cold in such high places. Higher spots like Dolna Babina Dupka and Solunska Glava are unpredictable even in the summer days. I’ve personally experienced all of the four seasons in less than 15 minutes on that hiking trail.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera with you. With such wonderful landscapes, you will soon regret not having it with you. If you got inspired by this post and went on this tour, send us your thoughts, photos, and experience, we’ll be glad to share it with our followers!