Mountain Biking Holiday – National Parks of Macedonia organized by Bicycle Tours & Guides
Arrival in Skopje. Orientation meeting over a dinner in a restaurant. After the dinner there will be a possibility for a walking night tour of the Skopje City centre. Accommodation will be provided in a hotel in Skopje city centre.
For those with an early arrival, a bicycle excursion around Skopje can be arranged.
The first day we ride South, along the old road going to the town of Veles. Once out of Skopje, we pass half the trip in fields, and get to Katlanovo Spa where we drink fresh mineral water. The spa has been known and used even from Roman times, and considered a healing place. From there, over hills and passing by vineyards we get to the accumulation Mladost Lake for a short swim. Then we make a descent to Veles town where we end the day. We can enjoy tasty, local specialities in Veles, such as the famous Veles (meat) pie, and an optional tour of the town. The day’s distance is 50 km, with some hills to pass that totally amount to 473 meters of ascent. Traffic expected in and around each town.
Accommodation at a hotel in Veles.
We ride from Veles to Prilep, along the old road. We first take the asphalt road along River Babuna and enjoy a quiet road in the countryside. Then we make an ascent towards Derven pass on a macadam road surrounded with nature. We enjoy a good view from Derven pass on both the Azot valley and Pelagonia valley. On the way down from Derven we stop over at St George’s monastery. Then passing the Prilep accumulation lake, and the famous Prilep boulders related to King Marko, we get to Prilep, our destination for the day. There we have a possibility to make a tour of the town, and learn about its past. Prilep is known for being the town of King Marko (14th century), artists, writers, thinkers, tobacco growers, revolutionary people, and even monkeys. It is the single town with greatest number of significant national, cultural sites. The dinner will be full of local specialities and the famous Prilep ‘beaten’ cheese. Day’s distance is 70 km, with one long uphill on a macadam road ascending from 190 m.a.s.l. to 1110 m.a.s.l. Moderate traffic expected in each town.
Accommodation in a hotel in Prilep.
The day is all about Pelagonia field. We ride from one end to the other of the Pelagonia field. We pass fields of wheat, sunflower and tobacco. The road gets us very fast to Bitola, the town of the consuls. Bitola was an important political centre during the Ottoman empire, many European states had their diplomatic offices there in the 19th century. A tour of the town is optional, but a recommended activity, to see at least the main pedestrian area where people go out to be seen and to see others.
From there we ride up to the hotel, which is in the middle of National Park Pelister. National Park Pelister has a unique pine tree – Molika and breathtaking stone-rivers. Day’s distance is 60 km. Some traffic is expected along the roads.
Accommodation in a hotel in National Park Pelister.
In the morning we have an opportunity for a short walk trough the forest. Then we ride down back towards Bitola, to take the road going to Prespa Lake.
We ride along the old road, passing around the National Park Pelister. It’s a paved road, going over the mountain pass Gjavato (1177 m.a.s.l.) and then descending to the lake. Throughout the road landscapes of mountains and valleys. We make a stop in the town of Resen for a break and an optional tour of the town to see Niyazi Bey’s Palace made as a copy to the Paris’ Hotel Du Ville in 1912.
Finally we ride into the National Park Galicica, along Prespa Lake to our hotel, where we have local fish speciality. Day’s distance is 55 km, hawing one ascent to 1177 m.a.s.l. Moderate traffic is expected in the vicinity of the towns. Prespa Lake is second largest lake in Macedonia and nesting place for many birds so bring your bathing suite and binoculars.
Accommodation in a hotel by the Prespa Lake.
Early morning is a great opportunity for bird watchers to see the great white pelican, the great black and the small cormorant, white heron, and others, depending on time and luck. Then we ride up, and up the Mountain Galicica pass. We get to a point wherefrom we can see the two lakes: Prespa and Ohrid lake.
We make a descent to Ohrid lake and to Ohrid town – the centre of Macedonian and Slavic Christianity with Christian temples as old as fourth century. A tour of the town is more than recommended so we will make one. And we will be right on time to see the most beautiful sunset over the Ohrid lake, from the church of St Jovan Kaneo (St John). Day’s distance is 67 km, with an ascent from 858 m.a.s.l. to1579 m.a.s.l. Moderate traffic expected along the whole road.
Accommodation in a hotel in Ohrid.
The seventh day is a day of rest, though bicycle riding is not what we are resting from. The whole day we’ll stay in Ohrid, having an opportunity to enjoy the Ohrid Lake, swimming and eating endemic fish from the lake, which tastes incredible when prepared in the traditional way. In the morning we can have a walk trough the old town of Ohrid, the old fortress, and swim in the lake. An option that should not be refused is to ride to the Monastery of St Nahum, 28 km from Ohrid, to see the monastery and the Springs of St Nahum. A walk around the springs will bring you fortune, believe the people, while washing your face with the water from one of the springs will give you beauty. Then we go for a dinner in the fishermen’s village Trpejca to taste the Ohrid trout. Swimming is also included. We return to Ohrid and enjoy the evening.
Accommodation in a hotel in Ohrid.
In the morning we make a short tour through Ohrid town, and enjoy the lake view. Then we set for Struga, along the old road, following the coast line. In Struga we see the town and the River Drim, going out of Ohrid Lake.
We then follow the River Drim down flow to see the accumulations that are built and get to Debar town. Travelling along water gives us the possibility to cool off now and then in the river or lakes. From Debar, we make one last ride to the village Jance, into the National Park Mavrovo, where we stay for the night. Day’s distance is 85 km at an almost flat road with minor ascent just before the town of Debar. Moderate traffic expected along the whole road.
Accommodation in a hotel in Jance, in a hotel built in the old, traditional building style with clay and straw.
The morning gives us the wonderful view on National Park Mavrovo. It is the largest national park in Macedonia and home of the Balkan lynx, so be quiet and on the lookout because they like to hide but you never know. Not far from Jance, up the road there is the Monastery of St Jovan Bigorski, where we stop to see the monastery and the great wood carving in the church. Then we continue along the canyon of the River Radika up towards Mavrovo Lake. Day’s distance is 35 km, though with some ascent from 650 m.a.s.l. to 1296 m.a.s.l. Moderate traffic expected along the whole road.
Accommodation in a hotel in Mavrovo.
From Mavrovo Lake we ride out towards Gostivar. After only a few kilometres we take a short cut and go down a road to the villages bellow, avoiding the heavy traffic of the major road. Along the way we visit the spring where the River Vardar begins. Then from Gostivar we take a local road to get to Tetovo where we stay for the night. Day’s distance is 91 km with some serious descent on a dirt road that requires technical skills. Moderate traffic expected when on asphalt road. National Park Mavrovo will be our last mountain of the tour.
Accommodation in a hotel in Tetovo.
In Tetovo, we can make a tour of the town in the morning to see the Painted Mosque and the Muslim Teqe. Then, we will simply follow the River Vardar onto a remote and fairly empty road going straight to Skopje. In Skopje, we celebrate the end. Day’s distance is 56 km. Expected mild traffic all along the road.
Accommodation in a hotel in Skopje.
For those that have late departures, a bicycle excursion around Skopje can be arranged.
Swimming and nature observing equipment recommended. It is a tour that passes 3 National Parks, 2 natural lakes, 5 accumulation lakes and 4 rivers.
At times the roads may be very frequent, especially while in or close to the towns.
There will be a vehicle support at all times that will carry the luggage, however we advise you to pack light as possible.
Possibility to provide special attention to nature, culture, religion or food along the route in accordance to demand.
Possibility to have an accompanying person that will not ride a bicycle, but will ride in the support vehicle.
Dietary requirements can be met: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, allergies, but the food experience may be lost.
Self guided bicycle tour is possible. GPS track and a map at availability. Depending on the arrangement, decrease in price will occur.