Berovo is the largest town in Eastern Macedonia, a region well-known for its natural beauty, clean air and quiet way of life. We arrived with high expectations, but also with a touch of melancholy. This would be our final excursion in Macedonia.
If you’re looking for an authentic, middle-of-nowhere, back-to-nature, where-the-hell-am-I, give-me-a-break-you-people-don’t-actually-live-like-this, it-must-be-a-movie-set kind of experience, then seek out the Klepalo Sheep Farm near Berovo. I’m still not sure the folks who welcomed us here weren’t actors.
After leaving Gari, we didn’t have far to go before the next picturesque Macedonian mountain village: Lazaropole. Although, at 1350 meters above sea level, it’s one of the highest towns in the Balkans, Lazaropole lays in a shallow valley and has a milder climate than one might expect.
After hiking to the Duf Waterfall, we drove along the southern border of the Mavrovo National Park to the tiny village of Gari, pausing along the way at the ancient Deer Leap Bridge. This is deep into Macedonia’s wildest and least-populated region, where nature still rules supreme.
After staying the night at Lake Mavrovo, we got on the road as early as possible, arriving in Janče by 8am. There was a reason for our haste; the weather reports were calling for rain by noon, and we had planned on completing a four-hour hike to Galičnik and back.
After parking our car in the center of Rostuše, a small village within the bounds of the Mavrovo National Park, we set off to find the Duf Waterfall. This was an easy hike of about forty minutes, following a well-marked trail from the main road.
Along with Titicaca in South America and Baikal in Russia, Lake Ohrid is among the oldest lakes in the world. And it’s become a popular destination with scuba divers thanks to both its history, and the stunning clarity of its water. We ventured underwater with Amfora Diving Center to visit the Bay of Bones: an archaeological site from the Bronze Age.
Departing from the park which protects Vevčani’s natural springs, a path of eight kilometers meanders through the hills to Gorna Belica. It’s a strenuous, non-stop ascent, but reaching this remote mountain village is worth the effort.
On the western coast of Lake Ohrid, not far from the border with Albania, is the town of Radožda. On a normal weekday, this must be a sleepy village on the shore. But when we visited on a weekend toward the end of summer, “sleep” was the last thing on Radožda’s mind. Radožda was ready to party.
Frequently visible in the skies above Lake Ohrid are paragliders who have jumped from the mountains of the Galičica National Park. It’s an activity we’ve always wanted to try… why not in Macedonia? So we gave the guys at Vertigo Paragliding Club a ring. A couple days later, were bouncing up the mountain in a jeep, nerves beginning to tickle our stomachs. This was a good idea, right?