Touristic village of Kercisht i Eperm
Welcome to Kërcisht i Epërm! Balcony of Maqellara
About Kërcisht i Epërm
Kërcisht i Epërm is a village near Maqëllarë. It is located close to the North Macedonia border, at the Kërcin mountain, which is part of Korab-Korritnik Natural Park. The village has several natural monuments such as Kërcin stone, Pocest waterfall, and Kërcin pastures and springs.
Kercisht is one of the touristic village models in Diber, offering a good combination of both natural beauty and five it’s Byzantine churches which are cultural heritage. Kercisht village offers access to trails for hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding and excursions to springs, pastures and waterfalls where different herbal plants can be collected along the way.
How to get there!
The most economic way to reach Kërcisht village is by minibus. You will find one on Rruga Bllata custom border and in the center of Maqellara. From Peshkopi, the minibus to Maqellare leaves from Rruga “Tercilio Kardinali” and the trip should take 20-30 minutes. Most of the minibuses to Kërcisht leave in the morning and once they are full. You must check with the driver about the return trip time. The price of the travel is around $ 1.00 and is valid for one-way travel. Kercisht is 2.5 km from Maqellara and part of the road is unpaved.
When you are looking for more comfort you can take a taxi from Maqellara to Kercisht. Taking a taxi is usually quicker than taking a minibus. Kërçisht is easily reached, even without 4WD, from Maqellare. The charge will be about $10.00 return trip.
A lot of people prefer to walk. The road is through the agro farms of Kercisht, with nice views of the fruit plantations and surrounding hills and mountains. The distance is 2.5 km and takes approximately one hour on foot.
Things to do in Kercisht
The village is ideal for a total relaxation in the countryside. However, a very enjoyable activity in Kërcisht is hiking. Many old footpaths and shepherds’ trails cross the region and will lead hikers through fields and meadows, past streams and waterfalls, and through forested areas in the mountains. In the past, these footpaths were the only way of connection between the villages of Maqëllara.
Sightseeing in Kërcisht village
Kërçin mountain, is one of the outstanding highpoints on the range separating Albania from North Macedonia with an elevation of 2342 meters. The mountain is great for hiking, with views of the Black Drini river valley and Lura National Park on the Albanian side and Mavrovo National Park and Radika River valley on the North Macedonian side.
The most famous part of the mountain is Kërcini’s stone, one of the 41 natural monuments of Diber. It constitutes an upper limestone massive, with a special form. Its area is 12.5 ha.
Kërcin pasture is filled with a variety of trees from xero-thermophilic oak and hornbeam woods to beech wood (Fagus sylvatica). There are different varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants that villagers collect. Shepherds have huts in the pasture to use as shelter when their animals are grazing.
Located on Kërcin mountain at 1670 m in altitude is the Yellow stone (60x40m), which is named after its yellow color. There is a spring source at the bottom of the stone. The water is clean, cold and it creates an attractive view. Most of the visitors use this spot as a viewing point for all Black Drini valley and Maqellara villages.
Another natural monument is a large tree, known as Kërçishti’s plane, which is located in the center of Kerçisht. It represents a dangling plane 250 years old tree with crown in a circle form, a height of 25m and 25 branches that form a crown with a perimeter of 60 m.
Pocest waterfall is one of the 41 natural monuments of Diber, located at 1500 m above sea level. The water flows along a big slot on a sharp, limestone cave, forming a big, karstic source and the biggest waterfall in the area with a height of 13 m. The water’s sound is heard at a great distance and it has a wonderful view.
The chestnut hills or Vllajseve is part of “Pocesti krast” forest one of 41 natural monuments of Diber, located at 1000- 1500 m altitude. It constitutes a habitat formed in a limestone territory and with a special variety of plants (chestnuts, hornbeam, beech, hazel, maple, ash, wild apples, Juniper, Briar etc).
Kercisht village is famous for five Byzantine churches (Kraal Kercini, St. Spahia, St. Demetrius, St. Sotir and St. Pobrazhit on the top of the mountain), although only two of them are open to visitors. The Church of St Demetrius was built in 1892, and the Holy Church of Sotir in13th century, although these churches need restoration they are still visited by those who practice the Eastern Orthodox religion and the many visitors of this village.
The local fest is “Spasovden Day”, also known as Ascension Day because of Christ’s Ascensions that completed the act of salvation. It is a characteristic festival for those who practice the orthodox religion. Many come from Tirana, Elbasan, Skopje, and Debar to celebrate.
Best places for food and accommodation
There are several markets in the village center that offer coffee, raki, beer and groceries. The villagers are very hospitable and often invite people to stay at their house which are not yet formalized as guest houses.
Agro farm Agolli, is a large farm with apples, cherries, chestnuts. The house on the farm has 3 floors and 9 rooms, which can be used for accommodation and food.
There are many bar-cafes and restaurants in Maqellare center and surrounding the Drini river which offer coffee and traditional food. The most popular restaurants are “Begu” and two restaurants near Drini river in Podgorce and Topojan.
“Lazri Hotel” in Maqellare is a comfortable and affordable hotel at the Lazri fuel station. The hotel features a shared lounge, free parking space, and free WiFi. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, a shared kitchen, and currency exchange for guests.
Hotels and other accommodations are also available in Peshkopi, which is 20-30 minutes away from Kercisht.