Best of Matka, guided half-day hiking tour
Explore the stunning Matka Canyon in Macedonia on a half-day guided hiking tour and boat cruise to Vrelo cave. Pass ancient houses, temples, and medieval monasteries. Hike to the Monastery of St. Nikola.
- Explore the magnificent scenery of the Matka Canyon, the most breathtaking landscape in Macedonia
- Walk along the banks of the River Treska
- Climb to the Monastery of St. Nikola
- Attend a workshop on how to prepare famous Macedonian “Shopska” salad
- Cruise by small boat past the vertical rocks and visit cave Vrelo
Our guide will pick you up from your hotel or any location of your preference in Skopje, with a comfortable A/C car/minivan and take you to the canyon Matka.
We start climbing up to the Monastery of St. Nicholas. [https://youtu.be/-HKDJvh7qtY?t=5s] St. Nicholas Monastery is located on a cliff above the canyon. The date of construction of the church is unknown. The first mention of it was in the 17th century, during Ottoman rule. The iconostasis of the church was painted in 1645, while the western side was frescoed in 1630. The monastery was deserted in the 18th century. An archmonk found the church roofless in 1816 and attempted to revive it, though it was again deserted in 1897. The monastery offers a unique view high above the canyon.
From the plateau, your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking views. A hospitable church-keeper, who built the surrounding mountain huts, will welcome you inside the monastery for yet another perspective of this magical and mysterious land.
Here at the Monastery, you’ll attend a workshop and learn how to prepare traditional Macedonian Shopska salad and taste rakija (traditional Macedonian appetizer).
Next, we will descend to the lake Matka, cross the lake by boat and visit Monastery of St. Andrew. St. Andrew's Monastery is situated in the gorge of the Treska River. Built in 1389 by King Vukašin's son Andrijaš, it contains frescoes painted by Jovan the Metropolitan.
We will then climb aboard a small boat to cruise along the 5-mile (8-kilometer) canyon, soaking up the surroundings and scent of flowers. Listen and look out for abundant birdlife, and keep your eyes open for wild boar and hare. We will visit cave Vrelo, listed as one of the top 77 natural sites in the world in the New7Wonders of Nature project. [https://youtu.be/ttHfqr1MMiI] Vrelo Cave has many stalactites including a large one in the middle of the cave known as the "Pine Cone" due to its shape. There are two lakes at the end of the cave, with one larger than the other. The smaller lake is 8 metres (26.2 feet) at its longest length and 15 metres (49.2 feet) in depth at its deepest point. The larger lake is 35 metres (114.8 feet) at its longest length, and 18 metres (59 feet) at its deepest point. Though the exact depth of the cave is unknown, some speculate that it could be the deepest underwater cave in the world.
On our return we will pass Matka dam and return back to Skopje for lunch (optional).
Difficulty of tour: Easy
Total average trip time: 4-5 hours
Departure time: suggested between 9:30am-10:00am
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off
- Local English speaking mountain guide
- Shopska salad workshop
- Boat cruise trip
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
- St. Andrew entrance ticket (EUR 2 per person)
- Meals and drinks
- Lightweight hiking shoes or hiking boots
- Waterproof rain jacket or poncho
- Warm wool or fleece top
- Warm hat and gloves
- Water (1 liter)
- Hiking poles
- Knee braces (if needed)