While in Ohrid, an excursion to the southern tip of the lake and the monastery of Sveti Naum should be considered essential. This is where the natural springs which feed Lake Ohrid come bubbling up from the underground, into a lagoon of startling clarity.
The only island in landlocked Macedonia is uninhabited… at least by humans. Located in the south of Lake Prespa, near the Albanian border, Golem Grad is frequently referred to as “Snake Island.”
We dedicated one of the days we spent on Lake Prespa to the nearby Pelister National Park. Extending roughly from Prespa to Bitola and down to the border with Greece, this park was established in 1948 to protect 170 square kilometers of southern Macedonia’s pristine mountain land.
Poor Prespa, always playing second-fiddle to Lake Ohrid. This is Macedonia’s second-biggest lake, behind Ohrid. It’s not as old, nor as fascinating, nor as pretty, nor does it have water so blue. It’s almost completely bypassed by tourists and locals alike and, relative to Ohrid, its shores are devoid of life. But we spent four nights here, and gave the lake our full attention. It’s your time to shine, Prespa. Impress us!
The Pelister National Park isn’t just home to mountains, forests, and wild animals, but also to people. The Vlach town of Malovište is a few miles within the park’s boundaries. We spent half a day here, meeting the locals, and enjoying the ultra-throwback feel of a town that time forgot.
Once upon a time, long, long ago, a village girl was anxiously awaiting her wedding, scheduled for that same afternoon. Having prepared everything well in advance, she wasn’t sure how to fill the morning hours. Having heard about another wedding in the neighboring village, she decided to walk over and see the happy couple who would be sharing her special day…
Before arriving in Macedonia, I might have guessed that the country would offer gorgeous nature, good food, and forgotten mountain villages. But I wasn’t expecting to find multiple megalithic observatories. We had already visited Cocev Kamen near Kratovo, and now turned our attention to the “Stonehenge of Macedonia,” Kokino.
In the grand scheme of things, megalithic observatories aren’t really all that common. It’s not like you are going to find one in every other town you come across, over there behind the Walmart. But Macedonia has been blessed with not one, but two (and not a Walmart in sight). The most well-known is at Kokino, but we first paid a visit to Cocev Kamen.
There are a lot of amazing spots in Macedonia which few tourists know anything about. And there are some spots which few Macedonians know about. Near Kratovo is an ancient village carved out of rock. Completely unmarked and almost totally overlooked, Golemo Gradište was one of the most exciting discoveries we made during our 91 days in the country.
Visiting the wetlands of Monospitovo had eaten up the entire morning, but our day in southeastern Macedonia was far from over. After refueling with a gigantic plate of meat in Novo Selo’s Restaurant Lebed, we made our way south, to visit two of the country’s most popular waterfalls.