Mavrovo: hiking paradise
While Mavrovo is famous for one of the most beautiful ski resorts in Macedonia, it is a perfect hiking place the rest of the year. This place is rarely visited by tourists but I definitely recommend this place for everyone who is travelling between Ohrid and Skopje. However I must warn you it isn’t that easy to reach when you don’t have your own transport. Be prepared to take a bus, get off at Mavrovo Lake and walk for another one and half hour before you reach some places to sleep and the start of some good hiking trails. To reach this place you need to cross the dam.
Before you will start your hike, you will see a pretty small sunken church in the lake. This St. Nicholas church was built in 1850. But by forming the artificial lake and building the dam, it was decided the church should be flooded. So it was submerged in the lake in 1953 but due to droughts in the 21st century it has largely appeared out of the lake. If you are that lucky that the area is dry you can walk into the church. Unfortunately we were not that lucky.
The area is beautiful for hiking because of the huge differences in heights. The first part of your hike will be through green forest. And in the end you will reach a desolated area with nothing. My friend and I had the feeling we were in a Lord of the Rings movie, with us carrying the ring to Mordor. At the moment you reach this highland you will have the chance to see shepherds. These local shepherds are living alone in this area with their sheep and their perfectly trained dogs. Wonderful to see the shepherds walking around with their sheep, while the dogs are driving those sheep in the right direction.
In this whole small hiking paradise we only saw one lost Dutch couple. Besides that there are no tourists. The hotel was even surprised that we wanted to stay at their place. They had some friends coming over and were playing a card game. Normally people are coming here during winter time. If you are lucky you will be even able to see the brown bear, lynx or the chamois. These animals are also living in Mavrovo National Park. For people that are not into hiking, mountain biking is also an option in this area during summer.
So if you want to visit something that is beautiful but you need to spend a bit of effort to reach it. And you will also have not that many tourists around you. Then definitely visit this Mavrovo National Park. It can be on your way between Ohrid and Skopje.