Last weekend, our adventurous family of four had to return from camping in the scenic camping grounds of Chalkidiki, Greece due to some urgent work commitments on Monday. Strategically planning our journey, we decided to make our way back to Skopje on a Friday, wisely avoiding the bustling weekend border crowds during the peak of July.

Thinking we had outsmarted the heatwave, we assumed that not many travelers would leave Greece on a scorching Friday, preferring to bask in the soothing coastal waters over the weekend. However, our assumptions were swiftly proven wrong as we found ourselves stuck in a seemingly endless line of cars, enduring 3.5 hours of the sweltering heat at the border crossing. Our hearts went out to the elderly, babies, and young children as ours, trapped in the cars, braving the oppressive temperatures.

Finally passing the border, hungry and weary, we yearned for a respite. That’s when I recalled hearing about “Ethno House Sermeninski Chardak,” nestled in the village of Sermenin. This ethno retreat is gracefully perched on the slopes of Mount Kozuf, a mere 35-minute drive from the border, easily accessible via the asphalt road using GPT navigation.”

As we approached the village, I immersed myself in reading about its intriguing history and its harmonious coexistence with the magnificent Kožuf mountains. Sermenin’s rich historical heritage dates back to the Roman era and Ottoman rule, with a legacy of successful bronchial and asthmatic disease treatments for children from Istanbul during the illustrious Ottoman Empire. Situated at an elevation of 540 meters above sea level, Sermenin has continued to captivate visitors with its stunning natural beauty, invigorating air spa, and the serene Belica river.

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by Vaska, one of the owners, who immediately made our children feel at ease with the spacious courtyard where they could stretch their legs and play freely. Surrounded by awe-inspiring natural beauty, we felt immersed in the serenity of the surroundings. Vaska guided us through the ethno house, sharing intriguing legends about the village and the giants associated with Kožuf, making the experience even more captivating.

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“The ethno house harmoniously blends with its surroundings, artfully constructed primarily with natural materials such as stone and wood, and even featuring meticulously handcrafted cherry tree bed frames. The profound passion for preserving the village’s ancestral roots emanates from Vaska, as she eloquently shares the captivating story of how her family’s heritage drew them back to this picturesque haven. Once abandoned, the village has experienced a remarkable resurgence, thanks to the relentless efforts of Vaska and her husband, with the community flourishing again with an influx of new cottages and even permanent residents. Now, international guests from various countries flock to this nature’s haven, seeking respite in the idyllic countryside.”

Vaska’s culinary expertise presents a delectable array of authentic Macedonian flavors. The restaurant, an integral part of the Ethno House, offers a selection of homemade juices, sweets, ajvar, ljutenitsa, pies, homemade honey, homemade eggs, cheese, sour milk, game meat and ,,baklava”. Raised in a family of farmers and ranchers, her mastery extends to preparing cooked pork, lamb, goat, veal, as well as crafting cheese and cottage cheese, all of which she passionately incorporates into her restaurant’s menu, ensuring a truly authentic gastronomic dining experience for its guests. We had varieties of fresh salads from organic vegetables, white cheese, bread with some vegetable paste topping. We were highly recommended to try their delectable homemade sausages made from game meat, which proved to be an absolute delight.

Before calling it a night, we explored the surrounding area, reveling in the mesmerizing Vera waterfall, a true natural wonder of the Belica river. As we followed an 80-meter-long path thoughtfully crafted by the local residents, this natural wonder was a mere 15-minute walk away. Standing at an elevation of approximately 600 meters above sea level, the Vera waterfall cascades down gracefully from a height of 4 meters. Beneath the falls lies a tranquil pot, offering a refreshing fountain. The area was thoughtfully adorned with a charming bridge, inviting benches, convenient tables, and waste baskets to ensure a pristine environment. What makes the Vera waterfall even more captivating is its perennial flow, thanks to the ever-water-bearing Belica River. Its constant flow ensures that the waterfall remains active throughout the year, making it a popular destination for visitors to revel in, especially during the summer season. The dense forest surrounding the falls adds to the allure, providing a soothing escape from the summer heat.

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We were fortunate to find available accommodation for one night. We were accommodated in a triple room with three single beds that could be joined together, along with a private bathroom since the family apartments were occupied. Please bare in mind when you visit Sermeninski Chardak that the apartments features small kitchens but do not provide kitchen amenities and are exclusively reserved for cooking purposes for babies. Therefore, guests are kindly advised not to use the kitchens for any other purposes.

The next day, we had continental breakfast, although Vaska ensured that breakfast catered to everyone’s tastes, offering a diverse menu from not just Continental, but also to Full English/Irish, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, American, and Breakfast to go. We had the pleasure of meeting a lovely family of four from Šabac, who have made this enchanting place their favorite spot to rest. They appreciated its proximity to the highway and the border, making it an ideal stopover on their way to Greece.

There were an elderly Hungarian couple accompanied by their young grandson. Despite the language barrier, Vaska, perfectly understands why foreign guests sought refuge in this charming ethnic house. The genuine hospitality and authentic experience it provides have undoubtedly captivated visitors.

As we bid a heartfelt farewell to Sermeninski Chardak, we exchanged sincere hugs with Vaska feeling grateful for the unforgettable experience, we couldn’t resist stopping by the unique “Smelling Water area” (Smrdliva Voda) named after the smelling mineral springs. The water is drinkable and contain hydrocarbonate, mineralized, weakly acidic water, known for its therapeutic properties in treating various ailments such as stomach issues, kidney stones, urinary tract conditions, and inflammation in the urinary organs.

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Before returning to Skopje, we thought to visit the “Kožuf” ski center. However, due to safety concerns caused by heavy rockfalls along the path, we regrettably couldn’t reach the ski center. It’s disappointing to witness such potential in the ski center, which could have become a state-of-the-art destination for winter sports, complemented by hotels with thermal waters. Unfortunately, the site has been neglected by the authorities.

Nonetheless, Kožuv, the majestic mountain range surrounding the ski center, still offers an abundance of activities. With over a hundred kilometers of scenic hiking trails through beech forests and elevated areas, its perfect destination for adventure enthusiasts and outdoor families as our to explore the rugged beauty of Kožuf. Moreover, the mountain peaks provide excellent opportunities for mountaineering, sports, and alpinism, with awe-inspiring vistas of the entire Kožuf mountain.

Our journey to Sermeninski Chardak by chance became an unforgettable chapter of our family’s love affair with nature and cultural richness. With warm hospitality, delicious meals, and the captivating landscapes of Kožuf, peaks to conquer, and trails to be explored, we discovered hidden gems for the next mountain adventure. We left with plans to definitely return to Sermeninski Chardak and conquer some of the magnificent mountain peaks in the near future.”

We wholeheartedly recommend visiting Sermeninski Chardak, whether it’s for a delightful lunch, a memorable dinner, a peaceful resting spot, or a chance to explore the enchanting beauty of Kozuf.

For further details or booking, kindly reach out to us via the following contact number and email address:
Phone: +389 70 383 767
Email: balkanea.com@gmail.com