Pelister National Park is located on the slopes of the mountain Babe in southwestern Macedonia, above the eastern shores of Lake Prespa, in the western part of Pelagonia plain, only 14 km from the town of Bitolj. Baba Mountain stretches to the north-south and represents the border between Bitoljsko polje (field) in the east and Resensko polje (field) and Prespa Lake in the west, stretching to the south to Greece.
Pelister was declared a national park in 1948. In 2007 it was expanded to more than 6000 hectares. It covers an area of 17,150 hectares stretching to an altitude from 927 m to 2601 m.
National Park “Pelister” is rich in various forms of relief, of which the most characteristic is the phenomenon rocky rivers. In some places on Pelister, rocky rivers make a series long even up to 3 km. Another interesting phenomenon is also the “rocky sea”. From the high mountain ridges on the surrounding valley 23 rivers flow down. They all have expressive mountain character. The longest watercourse on Pelister, in the length of 46 km has the river Šemnica. The trademark of Pelister are exactly clear spring waters with indigenous trout, waterfalls, mountain lakes, of which several seasonal and two glacial lakes – Veliko Jezero (Big Lake) and Malo Jezero (Little Lake), known as “Pelister Eyes”. Veliko Jezero is located at an altitude of 2218 meters and is one of the highest glacial lakes in Macedonia. Length of 223 m, a width of 162 m, and with a depth of 14.5 m, it covers an area of 4.2 ha. About 2 km northwest of Veliko, at 2180 meters lies Malo Jezero. With the length of 79 m, a width of 68 and a depth of 2.6 meters, it is located at the source of Crvena Rijeka (Red River).
Pelister is rich in unique natural resources and is home to rare and endemic plant and animal species.
The characteristic which contributed the most for getting the status of the national park is a needle pine – Macedonian pine (Pinus peace Griseb.) – which was discovered by Austrian botanist August Grizebah in 1839. Macedonian pine can be found on other mountains of the Balkans, but here hare there is the most compact forest community. On Pelister Macedonian pine trees older than 230 years can be seen.
With its rich flora Pelister is one of the most important areas of biodiversity in the country. Flora is very diverse, and therefore has a specific botanical importance. Here grows 88 species of trees, representing 29% of the dendroflora in Macedonia. Most of the forest areas of Pelister consists of beech 2.606 ha, the Macedonian pine forests cover an area of 1,174 ha, while oak forests are spread over 487 hectares. In the vegetation of Pelister more than 20 plant communities are distinguished, of which 8 forest and 13 grassland communities.
The fauna of the National Park is characterized by diversity, heterogeneity, and the presence of many relict and endemic species.
There are two legends about the name Pelister. Some say the name comes from the Greek word “Peristeri” meaning pigeon (viewed from a distance looks like a bird that has spread wings against a grayish rock). Others believe that Pelister was named after the Macedonian pine “molika” – five-needle or or five-leaf pine – “petlister” which reminds of Pelister.
Because of its exceptional natural beauty and favorable climate, Pelister is a destination for both summer and winter. It has excellent trails for skiing, special chalets and holiday houses. Besides skiing Pelister is a great destination for all types of active vacation, especially in the summer: walking, hiking, biking, climbing. It provides good conditions for picnic, camping, collecting mushrooms and herbs, fishing …
The National Park Pelister is situated near the city of Bitolj (14 km). Bitolj is only 17 km away from the border crossing with Greece. From the tourist centre of Macedonia, Ohrid, it is 73 km away, and from the capital Skoplje 175 km. Bitolj can be reached from the bigger city centres by train as well. The nearest airports are in Skoplje and Ohrid.