DAY 1: WELLCOME TO NORTH MACEDONIA
Meet Macedonia Travel guide at the airport, transfer to the hotel in Skopje to check in. We will take a walking tour of the capital: see the memorial house of Mother Teresa (Skopje was her birthplace) and the grand fountain of Alexander the Great on the main square; explore the old town – the biggest Ottoman time bazaar where mosques and Orthodox churches stand together along with Turkish baths – today turned into art galleries, and antique and jeweler shops. Dinner will be at Pero's tavern in the bohemian part of Skopje. Here we'll discuss logistics and local customs while sampling Macedonian grilled cheese, peppers, and courgettes. Overnight in hotel in Skopje.
Hike: no hikes
Total drive: 30km / 45min
DAY 2: HIKE TO MILLENNIUM CROSS & CANYON MATKA
Mt Vodno rises from the central part of Skopje, and it is 1.060m high. Start hiking from the foothills of Vodno and make a brief stop for a cup of mountain tea at the Millennium Cross at the top; continue hiking along the ridge. After ca 6h hike in total you should arrive at monastery St Nicola Shishevski, placed in the rocks above Canyon Matka. It is the best spot for photos of the canyon. The trail down to the lake can be steep (25min) or moderate (some 40min) descend. In the afternoon we recommend kayaking along the river to one of the deepest caves in the world – Vrelo Cave, but you can also take a boat to the cave. Late afternoon drive to Sharr Mountains, to Popova Shapka ski resort for dinner and overnight in a mountain hut (private rooms)
Hike: 15,2 km, 325m –1060m – 340m (cca 6 hours) Difficulty: Moderate
Total drive: 63km / 1h 20min
DAY 3: TITOV VRV
The hike to Titov vrv - named after Marshall Tito, is an all-day tour full of great panoramic views of Shar planina and Jakupica range, Pelister, Korab, and even Rila mountains in Bulgaria. Below the peak is probably the most beautiful area in Macedonia – the alpine style Leshnica area with pine trees, deep river valleys, and impressive overhanging rock faces. We will hike over several other peaks to Titov Vrv and return on the easier - Vakaf trail along alpine meadows, creeks and sheepfolds. Overnight in the same mountain hut.
Hike: 20,6 km, 1.730m –2.746m – 1.730m (8-9h) Difficulty: Challenging
Total drive: 0km
DAY 4: NATIONAL PARK MAVROVO
After breakfast, a 2 hour scenic drive in the mountains and along the river Radika canyon takes you in the national park Mavrovo. Your hike today will start from Bitushe village to one of the peaks of the mountains bordering with Albania: Krchin Peak. It is a moderate to challenging 6 - 7 hours hike to the Krchin Peak with fantastic views over Macedonian and Albanian mountain peaks. Tonight we stay in a village at the foothills of Jablanica mountain by Ohrid Lake – the perfect place to taste local organic homemade food and wines. Overnight in local guesthouse (private rooms)
Hike: 13,5km / 1.115m – 2.400m – 1.115m (6 – 7h) Difficulty: Moderate
Total drive: 162 km / 3h 10min
DAY 5: MOUNT JABLANICA
After the hearty village breakfast we start hiking from the village to the peak of Mount Jablanica. A beautiful scenic hike that treats you with spectacular views of Ohrid Lake and the mountains that surround its clear deep blue water. We will make our stop by a small glacial lake just bellow the peak. Optional: extend the hike for 4,5km more to the big glacial lake Podgorichko. Descend to the villages on the other side of the mountain to continuje to Ohrid. Overnighth in Ohrid.
Hike: 12,7 km / 1.115m – 2.257m – 1.439m (6 – 7h) Difficulty: Moderate / Challenging
Total drive: 34 km / 55min
DAY 6: OHRID & OHRID LAKE
Ohrid and Ohrid Lake are UNESCO world heritage sites: Ohrid for its great cultural and historical importance and heritage, and Ohrid Lake for being the oldest lake in Europe with many endemic species, spunges and algae. There are 365 orthodox churches in Ohrid, an ancient theatre and a galerry of icons with priceless collection. It is also the birthplace of the Cyrilic script. Take a walk in the old town of Ohrid and visit the most famous historical sites, as well as the workshop for handmade paper, or the manufacturers of the famous Ohrid pearls. In the afternoon we drive along the lake coast to visit St Naum monastery and the archeological site on water, the Bay of Bones. Overnight in Ohrid.
Hike: no hikes
Total drive: 61km (1h 40min)
DAY 7: NATIONAL PARK GALICHICA
Our morning transfer brings us to the pass of Galichica mountain, rising like a huge whale between Ohrid and Prespa Lakes. From here we start a 4-5hours hike to the peak Magaro, located in the highly protected zone of Galichica national park. This trail gives some of the best views over both Ohrid and Prespa lakes and the fishing villages by the shore. Descend back to the mountain pass and continue to Prespa Lake on the other side of the mountain, and to Bitola, the former city of consulates and embassies, today still one of the most beautiful cities in Macedonia. Join the evening promenade on the main cobblestoned street of Bitola lined with cafes and lively restaurants. Overnight in Bitola.
Hike: 8,2 km / 1.583m – 2255m – 1.583m (4-5h) Difficulty: Moderate
Total drive: 93 km (2h 30min)
DAY 8: NATIONAL PARK PELISTER – OVERNIGHT BY A GLACIAL LAKE
We start early to hike to top of Mount Pelister, the highest point on Baba mountain range. This is the oldest national park in Macedonia, famous for its ancient pine, lynx, and bearded eagle. Once we reach the summit we continue walking along the ridge – we will pass by the small glacial lake and end the hike at the mountain hut next to the big glacial lake on 2.271m height. These two glacial lakes seen from above look like two deep blue eyes on the mountain, hence their nickname “the eyes of Pelister”. Stay overnight in the mountain hut by the big lake. (basic – dorm style accommodation).
Hike: 15,6km / 1.420m – 2.606m – 2.271m (7-8h) Difficulty: challenging
Total drive: 15 km (30min)
DAY 9: AEGEAN COAST
From the Big Lake we descend down on a shorter route, to a village on 1.000m a.s.l. It is only 25km away from the border with Greece. We cross the border and drive to the coast of Aegean Sea where we’ll spend the afternoon on the beach of a small fishing town and taste some local seafood. Overnight in Litochoro village at the foothills of Mount Olympus.
Hike: 6,3 km / 2.271m – 1.040m (2,5h) Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Total drive: 260 km (3h)
DAY 10: MOUNT OLYMPUS
The first part of the route to Mt Olympus starts at the entrance of Mt Olympus national park (some 20km drive from Litochoro). It takes around 3,5 hours to get to the mountain hut “Refugee A” which will be your first stop on the way to the peak Mytikas, the highest peak on the Mountain of Gods. The trail is moderate, passing by the sources of Enipea River, and through pine and beech forest up to 1800m where it opens the views over the Aegean Sea. We will stay here tonight and get ready for the big hike tomorrow. Note that refugee A offers uqiqte basic accommodation with shared facilities.
Hike: 6,5km one way/ 1.100m – 2.100m (3,5h) Difficulty: Moderate
Total drive: 20 km (40min)
DAY 11: THE PEAK OF THE GODS
Start hiking to Mytikas summit early in the morning. This trail is more demanding as the forest is gone and it goes through open rocky area with no shadow and no water. After 2,5 hours you will reach Skala – one of the four peaks on Mount Olympus at 2.866m. North of Skala continues the trail (cca 1 hour) to Mytikas (2.918m) – the highest peak on Mt Olympus, and also the most difficult to reach. Note: Rock scrambling included! Your guide is responsible to decide upon your experience and fitness if you can continue to Mytikas. The descend from Mt Mitikas is on the same trail – you will pass by refugee A and walk all the way down to 1.100m. Drive back to Litochoro to spend the night there.
Hike: 12,5km / 2.100m – 2.918m – 1.100m (8-9h) Difficulty: Challenging + rock scrambling
Total drive: 25 km (40min)
DAY 12: THESSALONIKI
We spend the morning on the beach before we head to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. This urban center of Central Macedonia region in Greece has a modern downtown with 20th century buildings and lovely squares - due to the big fire in 1917 when two thirds of the city were burned down and rebuilt. But between these modern blocks you will find some very impressive remains from Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times. Overnight in Thessaloniki.
Hike: no hikes
Total drive: 92km / 1h 10min
DAY 13: LAST DAY
Transfer to Thessaloniki airport for your flight home. (B)
Total drive: 18km / 30min