After being fully vaccinated we finally headed towards Albania and on our way back and forth we crossed through Northern Macedonia (NMK) twice. Geographically it made more sense for us to cross NMK from east to west in the north, then travel through Albania and cross NMK again – this time from west to east further south.
In the north of the country we found two very nice, quiet and lonely spots to enjoy the landscape and to get used to traveling and living in our EULE (German for owl) again. As this was the first time we were in a non-EU-country in Covid 19 times we also took our time to observe their attitude and rules concerning the pandemic.
At the natural attraction „Stone Dolls“ we met Katja and Tim – a very nice German couple – and even though we only talked for half an hour we exchanged phone numbers and met again two days later at Matka canyon. We did a kayak tour to a cave together and on the second day we did a very beautiful, sweaty hike up the mountains.
We continued to Tetovo where we walked around the lively city and visited the beautiful colored mosque. A local overheard us speaking German in the street and started talking to us in perfect German. He had lived and worked in Germany but his heart had always remained in NMK. So he moved back to his home country. He invited us for lunch and later some coffee in his dental clinic. We ended up having a wonderful conversation for two hours and really enjoyed his stories and hospitality.
In the afternoon we drove up into the mountains and did another very nice hike there the next day.
After 1,5 rainy days which we spent relaxing and organizing stuff in our van at Mavrovo lake we set off for another hike in this beautiful area.
From here we drove to Albania and returned to NMK 3 weeks later. We entered further south at the Prespa Lakes. Funnily we could see Greece on the other side where we had been one year before, standing and looking over to NMK 😀
It was End of June now and unfortunately the weather had changed quite a lot since our first visit. It was now insanely hot (35-40°C) and additionally there was a lot of Sahara dust in the air, so the visibility was terrible and taking photos was no fun for us.
In the scorching heat we were not motivated to go hiking. As a result we changed our travel style and instead of spending lots of time in nature visited more cities where we enjoyed cold coffees, ice cream and restaurant food instead.
In between we also made a stop at the Makedonium monument in Krushevo. At first we were a bit disappointed because the guy from the cash desk said we can’t go inside. But one minute later he offered us that he would just go with us. He closed the cash desk and gave us a private and free tour of the Makedonium which we enjoyed a lot.
Due to the heat our daily goal usually was to drive a bit in the morning and then find a shady spot near a river or waterfall so that we could cool down. In southeast NMK we found some beautiful lakes and rivers in which we refreshed.
We really liked the mountains in NMK and we were sad that due to the heat we could not hike as much as we would have liked. It’s definitely a country worth coming back to at some point. Especially as so far, we still have not seen any bears – only the very big footprints of one 🙂
NOTES & ANECDOTES
at Matka canyon Edgar wanted to buy ice cream. The seller was upstairs and was not motivated to come down just for him. Later we came back with 6 customers and convinced her to finally sell us ice cream 🙂
we spent 13 days in North Macedonia
Exchange rate (24.05.2021): 1 Euro = 62MKD (North Macedonian Denar)
we wild camped every night
diesel price was 1,00€ (60MKD)
we drove approximately 1022km in North Macedonia
we spent 10 Euro per person per day. The daily costs do not include fixed costs like car insurance + taxes and travel health insurance.
road condition: ranging from 5 to 8 (out of 10 points); from good tarmac to rather bad roads with large potholes.
driving style / manners: respectful, friendly driving and mostly mild overtaking.