The Mavrovo National Park extends out into the hills south of Gostivar. Although relatively unknown outside the country, Mavrovo has long been a popular vacation spot for Macedonians, and it's not hard to see why. This is a region of stunning natural beauty, especially when seen from the shores of Mavrovo Lake.
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?
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."
A scenic drive through the Galičica National Park connects Macedonia's two largest lakes, Ohrid and Prespa. For those willing to hike, it's possible to see both lakes from one mountaintop view.
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!
A few years ago, things were looking grim for Dojran (pronounced "doy-ran"), a lake in the southeastern corner of Macedonia. It was losing water rapidly to over-ambitious agriculture, and facing total disappearance. But a strict conservation program has brought this small lake back from the brink.
Over the course of one long day at Matka Canyon, we tackled two hikes. The first, a climb to the church of Sveti Nikola, we can heartily recommend to anyone. But the hike to Sveti Nedela, on the opposite side of the canyon, is an ordeal we'd suggest only to those we most hate. Really, just those few people whom we wouldn't mind seeing dead.
There are a lot of activities one could choose from during a trip to Ohrid. Scuba diving, paragliding, hiking and sailing are just some of the options available to those who crave action. But "action" is the last thing on the minds of most visitors to Ohrid. This is, after all, where Macedonians come to relax. And for that, nothing's better than a day spent lounging on the lake.
Shimmering in the southwestern corner of Macedonia is Lake Ohrid: a UNESCO Heritage Site, and one of the oldest lakes in the world. Over the years, Ohrid has developed into Macedonia's favorite summer retreat. Whether to play in the pristine water, dance the night away, or just escape the heat, Macedonians and visitors from across the Balkans descend upon the lake in droves.