Mt. Cule in Dragash, Kosovo

Mt. Cule. Just aim for the rocky peak and you can't get lost.

Mountain shepherds, enormous Sharri Dogs, free roaming horses, pristine babbling streams and dramatic mountains are just a small taste of what awaits you in Dragash.  “I’ve lived in Kosovo for 9 months and I had no idea there was anything this beautiful,” said a friend as we stood in the middle of a wind swept mountain pass barely an hours walk from the road.  Unfortunately, comments like this are all too common. This one was made by a woman who lived just a 30 minutes drive from where I led a small group on a hike through the sharp green Sharri Mountains in Dragash Municipality.

Located in the southern end of Kosovo, Dragash is an oasis of untouched natural beauty and traditional villages sandwiched between the borders of Macedonia and Albania. Ignored by the Yugoslav government, the area never received development money for tourism despite its wealth of flora, fauna and cultural traditions. Luckily, this  also spared the region the communist era concrete hotels and restaurants that mar similar regions in Kosovo. Unbelievably, over a decade after the NATO bombs ceased, the region is still relatively unknown as persistent rumors of crumbling roads and violent sharri dogs have conspired to keep the area isolated mentally if not physically.

I have spent the past few months hiking the mountains and valleys that make up Dragash and have fallen in love with the locals (populated mostly by the Gorani), the magical grass filled mountains and the traditional way of life. This is a region where cross border trade still takes place on the back of pack horses along old mountain trails. Dragash is easy to reach and accessible to all levels of hikers as the mountain trails are well worn from centuries of use. The difficulty is that there is hardly any information on where to hike, trail maps to plan your day, and markers to keep you on track.

To help remedy this I’m working with the municipality and the various towns to develop an Eco-tourism Guide to Dragash, funded and produced by the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP). Not only will this great project enable me to keep doing what I love, hiking the mountains with only a GPS to guide the way and writing about it later, but hopefully it will increase the level of visitors to the region and improve the livelihood opportunities of the locals.

Sitting on top of Mt. Cule. Come and enjoy the view with me. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

To promote the area and help people get out hiking before the Guide is available I am hosting a portion of my hikes here on Todd’s Wanderings. As a special treat you now get to see me live in action as I have also started documenting the hikes by video.  Most hikes will come with video compilations that show the route with exciting commentary (when the winds aren’t acting up and you can hear me). Check out my first post above from the top of Mt. Cule to see what I mean about the absolute beauty of the area.

If you want to follow in my footsteps this hike is steep but easy enough.

Mt. Cule Hiking Details

Brod to Cule Hiking Map for Dragash, Kosovo

Click the picture to see a larger map. Ignore the bottom red line as we wandered over to see horses. You can also follow the red path to the end if you want to peek over into Macedonia (definitly worth the view!).

STARTING POINT: The Town of Brod

DURATION: 4 hours round trip

ALTITUDE: Brod-1384 meters; Mt. Cule-2220 meters

DIFFICULTY: Steep, but you can go as slow as you want ;) There is nothing technically difficult about this hike other than the steepness.

The path starts from the southern edge of the town, across the river and up the hill from the community center. The town is not very big so just ask anyone in town for Cule (pronounced “Chule”) and they should be able to point you in the right direction. You will find a lot of shepherds trails but follow the main ones up the mountain and towards the rock peak to the southeast (that’s Cule!). There are no markers here so print out the map and follow it the best you can. The good news is that there are no trees and it is easy to navigate by sight alone.

After about an hour of steep hiking you will come to a stream. Cross it and follow it up the mountain. You will see Cule up on your left.

Yes, it’s that easy! Water, food, snacks can all be bought in Brod or the town of Dragash. Don’t forget to buy sharri cheese as it is a local delicacy, just watch out as it is very salty.

A word of Caution about Sharri Dogs (Illyrian Shepherd)

Sharri Dogs in Dragash KosovoLuckily I yelled “hello” as I approached the hut. About 9 dogs jumped up, hidden from view initially by the tall grass.

These beautiful dogs are only found in this area of the world. They are large and are VERY protective of the sheep they guard. It is their job after all. If you come across a flock of sheep or a shepherd’s hut, most likely there will also be Sharri Dogs around. A local shepherd gave me this advice:

Don’t worry too much about the dogs. They hardly ever bite humans, but you should keep your distance as they are protective of the sheep and their territory. When you are passing by just give them enough distance. They will bark, but don’t be afraid. Sharri Dogs are the best!

I’ve followed this advice and have not had any problems to date. Although I have had plenty of the dogs bark at me to their hearts content.

If You Go

Driving from Pristina it takes about 2 1/2 hours to reach Brod by car. Drive to Prizren and follow the one way roads through the city taking a sharp left at the city center and following signs for Kukes and Dragash where you will take a right hand turn to leave the city. Continue on the road to Kukes for about 15 km until you come to an intersection with signs pointing left to Dragash. Turn left and follow this road into the valley for about 30 km until you come to the  town of Dragash itself. Continue through Dragash center following signs for Brod. The road after Dragash winds its way through the mountains for another 20 minutes until you come to Brod, the last town along the road.

If you have any questions about visiting Dragash just post a comment below. Or share your stories and tips for visiting this wonderful area of Kosovo.or just say hello, I love hearing what people think.

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11 Responses to “Hiking Dragash, Kosovo: Brod to Mount Cule”

  1. Hello!
    As a caver I’m interested is there any caves it Dragash Mt. – Brod- Restelica etc. If yes, which of them are most interested (long, deep) so to be visited!
    Thank you for your attention
    Best Regards
    Alexey

  2. juanNo Gravatar says:

    Hi, thank you very much for the information. how is the road to get to Brod? It will be clean of snow on March?

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jaun, I hear that the snows are melting at the moment. I moved to Timor-Leste recently so I don’t have much info on Brod these days. However, even with the snow it is possible to get to Brod, but March should still be cold at night so dress warm :)

  3. Thanks for the post and for all the details!!! Love hiking :) :)

  4. ewaNo Gravatar says:

    hello,
    I am planning a trip around Balkans this September and I really want to get to the Gora region. I could hardly find any information about getting there and around, from what little information I found, I figured what I would like to do is get to Dragash from Prizren, walk from Dragash to Brod, stay there for a night, then hike from Brod to Restelica (one guide I found says it is possible to hike to Restelica via Krusevo in a day) and then get back from Restelica to Dragas on the next day. I probably won’t have a car to get to Dragash and will have to rely on public transport or hitchhiking. Do you think this is a realistic plan at all? In particular is it possible to hike between Brod and Restelica? Is there any place I kind find some kind of maps? And can I count on being able to find accommodation for a night in both Brod and Restelica? Btw, it seems we will get to Restelica on or day before Bajram, can that affect anything?
    Best,
    Ewa

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Ewa,

      Your plan sounds great and you will have less problems then you will think ;) I am about to put up an article on hiking between Brod and Rectelica this week. It will inlcude a map as well!

      You should be able to hitch hike just fine. The distances are not very great so it will not take you long. There are also local buses that you can ask the locals about. There is not really any place to stay in Dragash town itself so it is better to stay just past Brod in the one hotel call Arxiena. You can walk from Dragash to Brod on the road, nice views but it is still a road. By car it takes about 20 mins.

      The hike from Brod to Restelica is very easy and it will only take you about 2 1/2 hours depending on how fast you go. From Restelica you can always hitch hike back to Dragash (30 min drive) or Prizren. As far as I know there is no place to sleep in Restelica. I think your plan is quite loose and you could easily do it round trip from Prizren in 2 days one night.

      As for Bajram, I’m not sure. But you will probably have a great time learning about the local customs.

      • ewaNo Gravatar says:

        thanks for your reply! I am looking forward to read the post on the Brod – Restelica hike with the map :) take care

  5. Great post Todd. Love those undiscovered places. How lucky you are to be one of the first to experience these hikes (aside from the locals). Loved the video.
    Barbara Weibel´s recent [type] ..Giving in to Temptation in Merida

  6. HerbNo Gravatar says:

    Love hiking, so great post. Just wondering if it is possible to rent a house, apartment or room in a town such as Brod for a month. What would it be like.
    Herb´s recent [type] ..Rocky Mt National Park

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Herb, I think there are one or two people that rent out rooms in their house. But I have not found houses for rent yet. People in that area just don’t think in these ways. The project I am working with will be trying to find these types of accommodation so I’ll let you know if I find them.
      Todd Wassel´s recent [type] ..Boat Party- Travel Photo Contest Friday 14

  7. LauraNo Gravatar says:

    Hi! I would like to swap links with your site. My blog is http://www.travelocafe.com. I’ve already added you under my “Links” section on my page. Thank you!
    I’m also looking for guest bloggers. Please let me know if you’d be interested in being featured on Travelocafe.
    Regards, Laura

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