A ovde podnaslov
September 20-26 2015
Not only that Macedonia has some of the highest mountains in the Balkans, but nowhere can you get so sky-high on wheels like you can climbing all the way to the Pelister peak of Baba mountain, 2600 m above sea. This tour takes you not only to Pelister, but two more 2500+ m peaks, Solunska Glava and Kajmakčalan, takes you down to the beaches of the emerald green lake Ohrid, world's clearest lake, lets you explerience some incredible, high altitude campsites, and inbetween bombards you with ancient culture and heritage, and a chance to taste the spicy Macedonian cuisine. A 4x4 tour of true contrasts, loaded with daily impressions, magnificent views and offroading challenges.
Duration - 7 days (Sunday, September 20th to Saturday, September 26th)
Price - 560 € per vehicle + 120 € per person
Wild camping (your own camping gear) + 2 nights in hotel
Approximate length through Macedonia - 1000 km (incl. pavement)
Technical difficulty - easy to moderate
AT class tyres recommended, MT optional
Protective sheets over paint optional (there are some narrow tracks with contact with bushes)
Minimum 4, maximum 7 participating vehicles
Approximate area of the tour(precise track available to participants)
Day zero – Saturday evening
We gather during the evening at our hotel in Skopje, the capitol of Macedonia, where we will have a welcome dinner and sleep on the night before departure on our offroad route (participants will receive detailed access instructions, routes, and coordinates). Next morning we first get resupplied and refueled for the next 3 days, before we head off to the first grand wilderness area, the Karadžica and Jakupica mountains (topping at Solunska Glava at 2540 m). Our first altitude goal are the Salakovo lakes, where we reach around 2200 m of height on wheels, before we descend on foot to the lakeside during a 5 minute hike. After a short break we have to cross a deep canyon to continue to the other part of the mountain, where the highest peak Solunska Glava is situated. We descend to around 1000 m, and then start climbing again, until we reach the Karadžica mountaineering hut at a fantastic scenic view, where we’ll have a coffee and lunch break on a terrace overlooking the deep canyon. After lunch, we’ll continue our climb towards the 2540 m high peak, that we’ll reach late in the afternoon. We descend to a wide meadow by a water well at the altitude of about 2100 m to make our first high altitude camp on the tour (in case of bad weather we’ll seek shelter a little lower, at around 1600 m).
Day two brings us down to the Gorno Jabolčište village, after which a serious rock crawling session awaits us on our way over the Jakupički Preslop pass, on our way towards Nežilovo. After that we can relax for a while on the paved road following the Babuna river, combined by a dirt road accross the mountain towards Zrze village and monastery on a cliff overlooking the big Pelagonian plain. We’ll then return to the paved road to head for the nice little mountain town of Kruševo, where we’ll have a short sighteeing tour and late lunch. After Kruševo, we’ll be heading towards the Ilinska mountain, and we’ll set up a campsite some 15 km later in a nice river valley.
Day three will take us over the Ilinska mountain and the neighbouring lower mountainous areas of central Macedonia, reaching maximum altitudes of around 1800 m. It is a very picturesque, dynamic landscape, quite forested, with many smaller river valleys that will make a dynamic and exciting day through the wilderness towards Ohrid, the tourist resort and medieval town on the lake bearing the same name, where we’ll get hotel accomodation after two wild camping nights. And, of course, an enjoyable dinner at a well known lakeside restaurant.
During these first three days we’ll cover around 400 km.
After the comfortable stay in a 4 star hotel in Ohrid, onday four you’re ready to get out into the wild again, but we’ll postpone it just a little longer, to take a tour of the fortress and the old town of Ohrid in the morning. Then we’ll have a chance to refuel and resupply. If the weather is sunny and warm we’ll hop over to the beach for a quick swim, and after that we’ll take you to a very interesting museum at the lakeside, Zaliv na koskite, where a neolithic village of fishermen was reconstructed on the archeological site where it’s remains were uncovered.
Now is the time to tackle the Galičica national park on the mountain bearing the same name, climbing to a scenic point from which both big lakes, Ohrid and Prespa, can be seen at the same time. A steep and rocky climb, but well worth the effort! On our way to the next national park, Pelister, we’ll quickly “kill” about 50 km of main road – there’s just no logical route to drive offroad along the northwestern coast of Prespa lake. But the quick transfer will come very handy, because what awaits us is an epic climb, where we’ll cover around 2000 m of altitude change! And the route has some quite technical, rocky parts. Depending on our timing, we may encounter an impressive sunset, right after which we’ll arive at Golemo ezero, at the altitude of 2200 m one of the highest lakes in Macedonia, and the mountaineering hut by it’s side. There we’ll have the choice – set up our camp by the lake (which would definitely be the highest place to camp in Macedonia), or sleep in the warm shelter of the mountaineering hut in shared rooms with multiple beds (just basic comfort with shared bathroom facilities, 7 € per person, not included in the tour price).
Day five is finally the moment when we reach Pelister peak with it’s record altitude of 2600 m, as the highest point in the Balkans that can be accessed on wheels! We shall do it early in the morning and after enjoying the views from the top we descend from Pelister more than 2000 m to the town of Bitola, where we have another chance to resupply and refuel. Another 30 km of paved road await us before we start our climb to the top of the last glorious +2500 m mountain in our tour – Nidze, with it’s highest peak Kajmakčalan. The 33 km long 2000 m climb takes us not only through dynamic and very fun to master trails, but also through a wide range of different scenery, from mediterranean bush environment, through pine forests of higher altitudes, to rocky and grassy ridges above the treeline.
At the very peak of Kajmakčalan there is a monument with a church in memory of the legendary battle of World War one where Serbs defeated Bulgarians, but suffered heavy casualties (the battle took place in 1916). Serbs regard it as a sacred place of national history, and it’s a frequent pilgrimage destination even today.
After visiting Kajmakčalan, we descend all the way down, and set up our camp in the river valley. It’s interesting to notice that this day brings us not to one, but two 2500+ m peaks, covering an overall distance of about 135 km.
The last two days will be devoted to Mariovo, a very large, and fairly mystical area east of the towns of Bitola and Prilep. An area that has the lowest population density in Macedonia, with very few villages scattered around, each one with only a few still inhabited houses. It is an area with very strange mountains, with characteristic, rounded rocks, in some places standing as if some invisible alien force left them in that position. A place that certainly deserves more than one day.
As we wake up on day 6 in our riverside camp, we’ll already be in Mariovo. We’ll travel in a zig-zag manner holding a dominantly northern direction, visiting several picturesque scenic spots before we reach the town of Prilep. Except for the scenic magic, Mariovo will give us all kinds of challenges, including the thing that is so sparse in Macedonia – mud. We’ll cross several rivers on our way, and drive along some dry river beds. Our last camp of the tour will be in a river valley again.
Day 7 will be a short exit from Mariovo area to the north of Prilep, to visit the enchanting Treskavec monastery. We will finish the tour by a farewell lunch in Prilep, after which your guide will escort you to the E75 highway leading to central Europe.
Generally, this tour should be regarded as a wild camping tour, since we’ll spend 4 or 5 of the nights in wild camps. And it will be camping in demanding conditions, since two of those nights will be at an altitude above 2000 m, so make sure that your sleeping bags are warm – at these altitudes night temperatures can drop below freezing point even during the summer! But, to make it easier on you, we have two nights in 4 star hotels, in urban areas where it’s a logical solution – in Macedonian capitol of Skopje, and in the ancient lakeside town Ohrid.
We will start our daily routes in the morning by 9:00 (on camping tours it does take some time to pack up an get ready to go), and end the days between 17 and 18 h, making a short lunch break each day sometime between 13 and 14:30 h (upon reaching some nice spot for the break). An exception to the afternoon arrival time may be the evening of day 4, when we may arrive to Golemo ezero at dusk. You should always have a 10-20 l reservoire of fresh washup/drinking water (you’ll have the opportunity to fill up on our way).
Equipment of your vehicle for Macedonian tour above clouds should include
- AT tyres (MT also welcome)
- a shovel
- a compact axe, and a saw
- 1 or more dynamic ropes for recovery
- complete personal camping equipment
- 12 V fridge and additonal equipment for preparing food
- CB radio
You should also consider
- A moderate lift – at least 2″ (will keep you safer in the rock-crawling sections)
- Protective sheets over your paint (if you’re sensitive to scratches, will keep you smiling in the few bushy sections that we’ll cross)
(vehicles can be either with or without low gear, but low gear is prefered )
Tour preparation and execution
We shall travel during the tour in a convoy. We’ll timely supply you with a GPX track to the meeting point, as well as numeric coordinates, and the phone number of your guide. Please secure that you have your travel insurance before starting the tour. We expect you to arrive with a vehicle in good technical conditon, which can endure a week of moderate offroading. In case of a serious malfunction which renders the vehicle stationary, we’ll organize the handling of the problem with the nearest service, and go on with the tour programme as soon as possible. You can rejoin us as soon as the defect has been repaired. This tour will require at least average offroad experience and skills. During the tour a chance to refuel will be available each 250 km or sooner (petrol, diesel, and in some places LPG). All major credit cards (Visa, Master, Maestro, etc.) work in Macedonia (both on ATM machines and for paying goods), but it’s advisable to have a small amount of cash for small expenses in the mountainous areas.
Average tour difficulty is easy, but shorter portions tend to quickly deteriorate to the moderate to challenging level. In practice, that means that we will be travelling on decent quality dirt roads most of the time, but occasionally we’ll encounter a technical problem that should be solved in order to continue, such as deeper tire tracks, bit rocks, or tricky river crossings. We will handle every problem systematically and with minimum risk. We will not invent problems that are not already present on the track just for fun, or to show off. If we conclude that some problem is too risky, after consultation with the participants we may decide to make a detour (the guide vehicle always goes first to check out the problem difficulty). Our operational communication during the tour will be on CB radios (we mostly use channels 5 or 16 FM).
For more details please consult the 4×4 addendum to the Terms and Conditions of Rustika Travel.
Tour price covers
- one adequately equipped guide vehicle with our guide
- all fuel and other expenses for the guide vehicle
- personal counceling before and during the tour
- appropriate GPS maps and data, that can be made available to the participants, if they have compatible hardware
- two nights in a hotel – one upon arrival to Skopje, and one on Ohrid lake
- welcome dinner on day 0 in Skopje, traditional Macedonian dinner for the group in a fine lakeside restaurant in Ohrid, and farewell lunch in Prilep
Tour price does not cover
- individual fuel and toll costs
- individual food and drink expenses during camping
- servicing expenses by third parties
- individual accomodation expenses before and after the tour (on your way to Macedonia and back)
- other individual expenses
Application form for Macedonian tour above clouds
(please fill out to reserve your place in the tour)
Payment instructions will be mailed to you
upon reaching final agreement on tour details