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With a fusion of fascinating history and spectacular scenery, Macedonia awaits
Where East meets West lies a country slightly larger than Vermont called Macedonia. Nestled in the center of the Balkan states, Macedonia’s mostly mysterious traditions, cuisine and geographical delights beckon to be unraveled by the curious adventurer. This melting pot of civilizations is landlocked by a series of majestic mountains, preserving a rich history and unique collection of flora and fauna. Kayak the crystalline waters of Matka Canyon, discover cave life in Makedonski Brod, ride horses or venture by foot through the splendor of Mavrovo National Park and cycle your way around Ohrid Lake, Macedonia’s prized UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized for both its cultural and natural treasures. All the while, your senses are enlivened by tasty dishes prepared by friendly locals and paired with the fabulous wines of the Tikvesh region. You’re bound to be inspired in this land of colliding cultures and awe-inspiring scenes, a place like no other.
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Activity Level: Moderate
Welcome to Macedonia!
Upon arrival at the Skopje airport, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. After check in, stretch your legs on a short walking tour of Skopje's most famous sites, such as the Stone Bridge, the Mother Teresa memorial house, the Old Bazaar and the Skopje Fortress, which dates back to the fourth century BC. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner in a traditional restaurant to kick off your adventure
After a scrumptious breakfast, drive to Matka Canyon for a day of kayaking and exploring. Steep limestone cliffs, a series of large caves and a wide variety of plants and animals make this protected natural reserve an adventurer's paradise. First roam the halls of St. Andrew Monastery, one of several medieval monasteries in the area dating back to the 12th century. From here, board your kayak for a paddle across Matka Lake to the Vrelo Cave. The exact depth of the cave is unknown, but some speculate that it could be the deepest underwater cave in the world. Discover bat colonies and cave ornaments that animate the darkness before paddling back to St. Andrew's or transferring by car to the village of Shishevo for a countryside lunch. Return to the hotel for a luxurious evening sampling the best of Skopje's fare
This morning, say so long to Macedonia's bustling capital city and prepare to be inspired by the natural wonders of Makedonski Brod. Don a suit, helmet and light as you enter one of Macedonia's 346 registered caves. Your first caving adventure takes place in Gorna Slatinska for an adrenaline-pumping session of horizontal caving. Return to the light for a delicious picnic lunch and get ready for Peshna, a rarely-visited national monument said by speleologists to have the biggest cave entrance in the Balkans. Macedonia's caves also have a number of unique features including underground rivers, waterfalls, small lakes, stalactites, stalagmites, pillars, drapers and corals. An assortment of critters accustomed to life in the dark and food shortages include crabs, spiders, bats and an array of insects. Fossil remains of cave bears and sword tigers can also be found. Later, depart for Mavrovo National Park and settle into your hotel for an evening of well-deserved relaxation. Tonight, dine on local specialties such as Boletus edulis mushrooms and your choice of savory game dishes.
Start your day over a steaming cup of coffee before choosing your adventure. Whether you opt for a horseback ride or hike, discover Mavrovo, Macedonia's largest National Park. Saddle up for a ride or lace your boots for a hike through the countryside, escaping the clutter of urban life. Vast, green highlands, flower-bedecked grasslands, towering mountains and clear-flowing rivers fill the background of your day. If you're hiking, follow an easy path to Mt. Medenica, the highest point of the Bistra Massif. Descend to the village of Galicnik for a meal featuring delicacies, such as kachamak, white sheep cheese and bakrdan. Meander through the village known for its remarkable architecture and the birthplace of many famous Macedonian poets, artists and writers. Relax at the hotel tonight and get excited for tomorrow's adventures
Checkout of your hotel and depart for the southern edge of Mavrovo. En route is the village of Rostushe where the Duf waterfall beckons to be explored. Enjoy a coffee and snacks before transferring to the picturesque village of Janche. Ramble the streets of this fascinating settlement and lounge over a tasty lunch featuring typical fare of the Dolna Reka region. After lunch, visit the monastery of St. John the Baptist, world-renowned for its marvelous iconostasis created by woodcarvers in the 19th century. Continue on to Ohrid for a memorable dinner on the rooftop of your hotel
Today, saddle up for a cycling adventure following the Via Egnatia, an ancient Roman road dating back to the third century BC, connecting Rome with Constantinople. Stretching from the Adriatic to the Aegean Sea, the Via Egnatia was a very important travel, trade and military route. Along the way, explore the many cave churches established on this medieval road, including St. Erasmus' church, which dates back to the third century AD. St. Erasmus was one of the most influential disciples of Christianity. Walk above the church for magnificent views of Lake Ohrid, believed by experts to be one of the oldest lakes in the world. Ride along the lake shore to the neighbor town of Struga famous for its river Black Drim, and the Monastery of the Virgin Mary built in the eighth century, housing monk cells deep in the rock. Your pedaling finishes in the fishermen village of Radozda, where a lunch of fresh trout, plashica or belvica awaits. Return to the hotel this afternoon for leisure time and a night dining anywhere of your choosing
A luxurious day is yours to relish as you explore the old part of Ohrid on a pleasant stroll. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts such relics like Tsar Samuil's Fortress, the Amphitheater, Plaoshnik complex and the church of St. Sofia. Later, transfer to Debarca nestled in the village of Kuratica. Stop at the ancient city of Stobi and explore the well-preserved ruins of Stobensium, an important economic and cultural center of the Roman province of Macedonia Secunda. Imagine the gore of gladiator fights that took place here in contrast with the beginnings of Christianity seen in a basilica showcasing splendid floor mosaics. In Debarca, you're welcomed into a local home where your host invites you to sample homemade wine and rakija. After you've had your fill, continue to the Tikvesh wine region. Settle in to your hotel and join your new friends and guides over a farewell dinner and wine tasting as you tap your feet to the scintillating rhythms of a local folklore group performance of traditional Macedonian dance
After breakfast, feel free to tour the winery premises or take a walk in the vineyards before transferring back to the Skopje airport for your flight home.
We hope you enjoyed your adventures in this cosmopolitan land!
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An Austin Adventures representative will meet you upon arrival at the Skopje Airport. Upon clearing customs, transportation to Hotel Solun will be provided. On Day 8 you will be transferred from the Popova Kula Hotel to the Skopje Airport in accordance with your morning or afternoon flight schedule.
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments and receptions ”“ except one dinner on your own ”“ are included as indicated by itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.