Until recently, Đeravica was considered to be the highest mountain of Kosovo. However, the border between Kosovo and Northern Macedonia was adjusted and since then the highest peak moved to the top of Rudoka e Madhe (also known as Velika Rudoka (Big Rudoka) in Macedonian and Maja e Njeriut in Albanian), which is 2 meters higher than Đeravica. Follow this article to find out everything you need before your visit about Rudoka e Madhe including my personal experience, a map and practical tips. How is the climb to this 2,658 m high mountain?
Important information for climbing Rudoka e Madhe from hotel Arxhena
Short description of the ascent: Long hike with elevation over 1,000 m Essential equipment: General hiking gear Best time to visit: May - October Fees or restrictions: No Camping allowed: There isn't any specific law in Kosovo that says wild camping is either legal or illegal Nearest accommodation/food supply: Hotel Arxhena Height of the peak: 2,658 m Hiking distance: 10.8 km (one way) Time to ascend to Rudoka e Madhe: 4-6 hours up, 3-5 hours down Elevation climbed: 1,194 m Water availability on the mountain: Hotel Arxhena, then the path continues along a river but don't drink water from it. It passes a farm with cattle. Difficulty level: *** (6 stars maximum) Personal rating of the mountain: **** (6 stars maximum) Beer on the peak: Sabaja IPA **** (6 stars maximum)
What is the best hiking route to Rudoka e Madhe?
There is basically only one popular route to Rudoka e Madhe. It starts in the ski center and hotel Arxhena in Kosovo. The hiking route starts along a ski slope and continues via a beautiful valley. The steepest part comes at the final part of the hike after you pass a small lake and a farm.
Map of the climb to Rudoka e Madhe from hotel Arxhena
My story of climbing Rudoka e Madhe in winter conditions with personal experience and tips
I climbed Rudoka e Madhe as a part of my project European Peaks during which I climbed the highest peak of every European country. How did it go? After climbing the highest point of Northern Macedonia and Albania – Golem Korab, I went for a new challenge. My girlfriend Joanne and I were about to ascend the new highest peak of Kosovo.
It all started in the capital Pristina. The plan was to go directly to the mountains but the weather was worse than expected. We had to wait three days until the weather was reasonable enough to climb Rudoka e Madhe. We took advantage of the break from the mountains and explored Kosovo.
When the weather was finally getting better we headed to the Arxhena ski resort in Kosovo where you can find the starting point to Rudoka e Madhe. We passed the nice city Prizren, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and then many cows, sheep and goats on the road before we arrived to hotel Arxhena just next to the ski resort.
In a horror movie
It looked very modern from a distance. We wondered: “Maybe, that’s why it was so expensive on booking.com. It might be a luxury!” However, when we entered it looked terrible inside. Unfinished constructions, holes in staircases, reception covered by plastic, no radiators. Will we survive here until the morning?
We did even though it was cold at night. We got up at six o’clock to have extra time in case the weather forecast didn’t work and that was a good decision. It was supposed to be sunny but we got a surprise. When we looked out of the window it was completely white outside. New snow and cloudy. We expected snow on top of Rudoka e Madhe but not here next to our hotel which lies only at 1,500 meters above sea level. Really? It is the 7th of May!
Well, the hike will be all in the snow. After a quick breakfast we set out on our journey. It was beautiful outside. The landscape looked like in a fairy tale with the fresh snow. I must admit that the locals chose a beautiful spot for the ski resort. The sharp rocks surrounding the hotel looked amazing covered by snow.
The first part of the journey to the highest point of Kosovo was going on the ski slope. It was the steepest part of the trip. The skiing season was already over so the lift was not in operation. After the initial climb we followed an approximately 5 km long valley until we reached an abandoned farmhouse. We were lucky that the clouds were constantly getting higher, so we still had a nice view over the “sugar covered” landscape.
Sudden tough winter expedition
Behind the farmhouse, it was clear that the climb will be more challenging. The freshly fallen snow was joined by snow from the past winter months. There were no traces in the snow at all. It looked like no one had gone to the summit of Rudoka e Madhe in recent days. Who knows if anyone at all this year.
We had to make our own way. I wish we would have had snowshoes. We got deep with every step. The hike was getting tougher and tougher and the clouds suddenly dropped. We ended up in a dense fog. We couldn’t see further than a few meters. Thanks to GPS we could still continue towards the summit. Luckily Rudoka e Madhe isn’t steep so we weren’t scared of complicated terrain like on the way to Golem Korab in Macedonia.
During the final ascent, there were parts of deep snow and ice. We were glad we had crampons with us. We put them on and continued. The higher we were, the stronger the wind blew. It brought fresh snow and it sometimes felt like we were climbing Everest. A kilometer before the summit of Rudoka e Madhe we passed a 2,629 meter high peak and continued along a ridge. Here the terrain was supposed to be a bit more steep but we couldn’t see anything. Luckily the snow was frozen and solid so we weren’t scared of avalanches.
After a while we saw a small column in front of us. That’s Rudoka e Madhe! We are on top of Kosovo. We had no view but we were happy we managed it. I enjoyed the winning feeling with a peak beer and Joanne with coke.
We followed our traces on the way back so it was much faster. After four hours we got back to our hotel where we got a tasty soup. We were tired but we definitely didn’t want to stay in the hotel for another night. In addition to the unpleasant hotel experience, we had also checked the weather forecast. The next day it should be clear sky in Montenegro and then 5 days of heavy snowfall. Tomorrow or never. We have to try climbing the highest point of Montenegro!
My tips for climbing the mountain Rudoka e Madhe:
- Do not stay overnight at the Arxhena Hotel. In addition to the terrible atmosphere, the hotel is also very expensive.
- The hike is very long. Don’t underestimate food and water supplies for the trip.
- The orientation can be more complicated. Be sure to take GPS navigation with you.
- Visit the city Prizren, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the way.