Walking the Mountains of North Macedonia

Day 1 (25th of May): Arrival at Sofia Airport at 14.30. Transfer Sofia-Skopje – 5h. Overnight in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.

Day 2 (26th): Hike from Makedonsko Selo to Canyon Matka.

After breakfast we checkout from the Hotel and we load the bags in the bus. We are ready to hike from the hotel, while our bus will wait for us at Canyon Matka. We start at the altitude of 650 meters, and soon we enter a zig zag oath in the forest. We exit on the ridge of Mount Vodno, often giving us great views toward the city of Skopje. The ridge has gentle ups and downs, and it’s highest point is 1060 meters. From that point, we start descending to Matka, one of the most popular natural protected areas near Skopje. We will descent to the church of St. Nicholas (14 century), from where we can see the canyon. We will go down to the artificial lake of Matka, where a boat will pick us up.

We will find our driver nearby and continue to transfer to Popova Shapka area of Shar Mountains where we spend the night (1,5h drive).

Altitude gain: 450 meters
Length: 9,5 km
Walking time: 4,5-5h

Day 3 (27th): Shar Mountains, Popova Shapka: Hike to peak Plat (2370 meters).

After breakfast we start the hike toward peak Plat, one of the most scenic peaks on Shar mountain. After an ascent of about 200 meters our hike continues on a dirt road looking over the forest of the north side of Ceripasina peak. In May it is still quite probable that we will walk on several snow patches on the north exposed sides, but we do not expect any technical terrain. Soon we will exit from the road and start the ascent toward the peak Plat. We will again cross some snow, that will also determine the exact route we take up. On the least push before the peak, a view toward Middle Leshnica rock and Tito’s peak, the highest peak on Shar mountain opens up. We will hike to the peak, and enjoy a view of the longest mountain range in Macedonia. We hike the same way back to Hotel Scardus which allows us to check out late. So a quick shower and a possible celebration beer, and we are on our way to Mavrovo national park (2h drive).

Altitude gain: 800 meters
Length: 16 km
Walking time: 7,5-8h

Day 4 (28th): Mavrovo National Park: Hike to Medenica from Frchec, Descent to Galichnik and then to Janche.

After our breakfast we will checkout and take a 40 minute drive to the starting point of our hike. Today we hike to Medenica peak (2152 m), the highest peak of Bistra mountain. Medenica means the Honey peak, and it is 2160 meters high. We will have a circular tour of this peak, and we start at 1600 meters, hike to the peak and descent to the famous Galichnik village. This village was once considered to be a small town, having almost 3000 inhabitants. Now the wonderfully preserved architecture and a few friendly locals remain a witness of the once reach sheep-herding traditions. We will have a traditional lunch with Pavle and Borka, the only two remaining full time inhabitants in the village, and then we will have an optional continue of the hike, down to our accommodation. After our descent we will drive off to the UNESCO protected cultural heritage city of Ohrid, placed next to the oldest lake in Europe, the UNESCO protected natural heritage Ohrid Lake. We will accommodate and enjoy a nice dinner. Drive time: 1,5h.

Altitude gain: 550 meters
Length: 13 km
Walking time: 5,5-6h

Day 5 (29th): Galichitsa National Park: Hike to Magaro Peak with views of Ohrid and Prespa lakes.

We start the day after breakfast with a 40 minute drive in Galicica National Park. Our hike today takes us to Magaro peak (2264 meters), one of the highest peaks of Galicica mountain. Galicica national park is positioned between Prespa and Ohrid lakes, and this lakes are amazingly connected via springs under the mountain. Prespa lake feeds its waters into Ohrid lake, giving it a fresh water supply constantly. Our peak gives us a view of the two lakes, making this hike very popular among visitors from all over the world. If we try to make it a circular hike, we may encounter some snow on the descent, but we will check this option and know what to expect. After the descent we will go to Ohrid lake, where we will have an amazing lunch by the lake in the village of Trpejca.

In the afternoon we can have a guided stroll through the old city of Ohrid, and choose a nice dinner place also by the lake.

Altitude gain: 750 meters
Length: 12 km
Walking time: 6-6,5h

Day 6 (30th): Jablanitsa Mountains: The Black Rock Peak and Ohrid Lake.

After the breakfast we will drive for about 45 minutes to the village of Gorna Belica on Jablanica mountain. Gorna Belica’s name literary means the beauty above, probably referring to the beautiful nature and the views toward Ohrid lake. Our hike takes us Popova Shapka, Macedonia (FYROM) in wonderful beach forest before we exit an high plateau carved by mountain streams. The peak Crn Kamen (Black Rock, 2257 m) is accessed by a zig zag path that takes us to the ridge from which again we have an amazing view toward Ohrid lake. If the snow conditions allow, we can make a round hike toward Gorna Belica via an small and beautiful glacial lake. After the hike we will drive to Vevchani village, where traditional Macedonian food will be served for our well deserved treat. After the late lunch we will shortly walk to see the famous Vevchani streams, one of which is coming out of a small cave. We will drive back to Ohrid, where we can have our farewell dinner in Macedonia.

Altitude gain: 900 meters
Length: 14 km
Wakling time: 7,5-8h

Day 7 (31th): Drive to Sofia, accommodation.

Day 8 (1th of June): Departure 06.30.

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