European hiking trip - Conquer the Balkan heights

  • May 24, 2013 · 6:00 PM
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THIS TRIP IS NOW FULL-NO MORE SPACES LEFT!

Climbing the highest peak between the Alps and the Caucasus, walking in national park and protected woodland in Eastern Europe, and enjoying early summer on the shores of one of the oldest lakes in the world, where civilization exists for more than 4 000 years. If this is your idea of a well spent holiday in May, than you can RSVP Yes to this event.

 

This is a 9 day trip, planned for 24.05 -[masked], but you only need four days off because of the May Bank holiday. We will be visiting two Balkan countries - Bulgaria and Macedonia, two capitals - Sofia and Skopje, one National park - Rila, an UNESCO protected lake and city- Ohrid, and picturesque towns and green wood landscapes along the way. We will be hiking on a challenging terrain so you need to be reasonably fit to join this trip, but you don't need special equipment. We will go on walks in woods and meadows, stay overnight in a mountain hut, we'll do cultural sightseeing and of course we'll be debating controversial recent history.

 

If you want to come on this trip we recommend Wizzair low-cost flights:

(more details below)

 

The tour starts with late night arrival in Sofia, and half a day sightseeing of the Bulgarian capital the next day. Then we're going to Borovetz, a winter resort town in the foothill of mountain Rila. Early in the morning we start hiking in attempt to conquer the summit Musala.

Musala Peak (2925 m AboveSeaLevel) is practically the top of the Balkan Peninsula. It is located in Bulgaria, between Sofia and the border with Macedonia.

We’ll be climbing this peak from nearby village Borovetz, walking distance 4-5 hours, or, if using a lift + 1hour walk to the top. From that point, we have another 4 hours walking to a mountain hut where we'll spend the night.

<<

 



Next day, we'll cross the border and move on to a lower mountain area (still above 800 meters ASL) in Eastern Macedonia. Exploring the scenic surrounding and relaxing in a traditional the traditional town of Berovo. We'll stay in a four star hotel with a spa.

Berovo Landscape >>>

 

 

 

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<<< Good food

 

We'll continue our hikes in the Berovo region on easy/moderate terrain to a dairy farm, where we have organic food prepared for lunch.

Macedonia is a country rich with good food, and the cuisine itself is an inventive mix of mediteranean, slavic and oriental influences.

 

The next day we'll do a wine tasting tour in central Macedonia, so we can sample local wines and food at our own leasure. We will try wine produced from the authentic wine grapes from the Balkans, like Zilavka, and Stanushina - wine grape typical only for Macedonia.

 

After driving across Macedonia we'll arrive to Ohrid and stay there for the next three days. Fear not there is plenty to do in this UNESCO protected city, we'll swim in one of the oldest lakes in the world, and explore the living chronological thread of civilization in a place which has been a part of the Byzantine empire and a place where the cyrillic alphabet was founded in the 9th and 10th century.

 

 

 

 

On the last day we'll travel to Skopje, where we'll explore the Macedonian capital by day and night before we leave for the airport at 03:00 am.

The price of of £490 for this trip includes:

Renting a minibus and driver for the duration of the trip which offers great flexibility

All hotels&accomodation (3 and 4 star) and breakfast during the trip, based on two sharing a room.

Mountain guides at Rila Mountain, Bulgaria and Malesh area, Macedonia

 

The price DOES NOT include flights. The full sum of £490 is due by the end of April.

Useful information:

Bring your hiking shoes, swimsuit and camera!

Local concurrency in Bulgaria is Lev (BGN) £ 1 = лв 2,4285

Local concurrency in Macedonia is Denar (MKD) £ 1 = MKD 75,95

Most of the local exchange offices accept EUR which has better rate than GBP.

There ARE a lot of cash machines in the places we visit, except during hiking in the mountains, of course.


Useful links:

http://wizzair.com/

http://bulgariatravel.org/data/doc/ENG_59-Sofia.pdf

 

Recommended flights:

London Luton - Sofia[masked]

Friday,[masked]    21:50 to 02:55

70,49 GBP at wizzair.com


Skopje - London Luton[masked]

Sunday[masked]    05:15 to 07:35

70,61 GBP at wizzair.com

 

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  • Edmund

    An Amazing time. I am finding it difficult to express how fantastic it was. Especially the attention to detail, hard work and nothing too much trouble attitude of Maja and Lea. Thanks again

    July 29, 2013

  • Kuldip

    Lots of important things to do today, so have uploaded some photos instead. Enjoy the trip down memory lane...Should be okay for exercise in a couple of weeks time, can't wait to join you guys out there!

    1 · July 6, 2013

  • Sybrand

    IT WAS PRETTY DAMN AWESOME! I uploaded some pictures of the trip (and some more from my little roadtrip through Kosovo and Albania) in this album: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjFK6xfK

    Enjoy watching, downloading and reproducing!

    1 · June 4, 2013

  • Edmund

    We have had a request to move the Reunion to the 19th July instead of the 12th I will assume that is ok with people ?

    June 12, 2013

  • Edmund

    Reunion Friday 12th July ? Everybody I spoke to seemed to be up to try some Ceroc http://www.network.ceroc.com/Applications/PageManager/htdocs/sites/meceroclondon/?page=476

    We could go to
    Kensington - Casbah - London (West), Baden Powell House, Queens Gate, Kensington, London, SW7 5JS Nearest Tube Gloucester Rd http://www.network.ceroc.com/Applications/PageManager/htdocs/sites/meceroclondon/?venue=678&page=3151

    The beginners class starts at 19.45 Sharp until 20.15 then you have a couple of tracks to practise the moves you have just learnt, then 20.30 a beginners practise session until 21, then freestyle until 11

    June 12, 2013

  • Lea B.

    Hello Europeans!

    Just looked at the photos and got virtually back in time :)

    Thanks for the lovely time everyone!

    See you, hopefully, soon :)

    June 12, 2013

  • vanessa

    Thanks to Maja and Lea, I will forever have fantastic memories of Macedonia and will probably go again - although next time I'm doing all the hikes! We had a really lovely group and it was really nice getting to know everyone - and I especially loved the dancing!

    1 · June 11, 2013

  • Emmylou

    A happy little afternote - after some prodding, the hotel in Sofia magically found my jacket and posted it to me :)

    3 · June 11, 2013

  • Ana

    hey guys! Welcome back!! The photos look amazing!! Looking forward to hearing the meaty stories... :)

    June 5, 2013

  • Kuldip

    FANTASTIC Holiday! The views from the mountain & feeling of peace, the beautiful scenery, the clean air, the amazing food, even the anoushka shankar concert at the end resonated. Thank you Maja & Lea for all the hard work & thanks to everyone for making this a holiday to remember!

    June 5, 2013

    • Kuldip

      Unfortunately on the way home on Sunday, with all the delays & disruptions, I lost my camera, so please email me your photos or send me links from which I can download...much appreciated! Kx

      June 5, 2013

  • Ewa

    Conquer the Balkans.. I spent such an enjoyable time and came back very very relaxed ... sun, clear air, isolation form city noise, excellent food and what count the most an excellent company.. thank all of you for this holiday and Maja and Lea for an opportunity to discover Mecedonia, country with rich culture and unspoiled nature...thanks a lot... I hope to see You soon xEwa

    June 4, 2013

  • iain

    Martin's description just says it all.My thanks to Maja and Lea for all their hard work planning and organising this trip.It was a wonderful experience with many unforgettable memories.I will go back to Macedonia- a beautiful country with a proud, friendly and hospitable people.

    June 4, 2013

  • Martin

    Amazing trip and I just wish I could make it on time ;-) My 6th time in the ex-Yugoslavia (and 3rd with Maja and Lea), a big treat as usual, I can't imagine ever getting bored with this region, on the contrary every visit makes me more addicted to it... Breathtaking landscapes teeming with wildlife, magnificent Orthodox temples, delicious food and friendly and hospitable locals can't fail to make a visit to Macedonia an unforgettable experience.

    2 · June 4, 2013

    • Martin

      While I'm not kidding myself that this is representative for a huge majority of the population, it certainly says something about it. I'm just wondering how slim the chances of hearing a similar comment would be in most "major" European countries (including my own), especially in the current economic climate. Macedonia may be a remote and relatively unknown country stuck in a little visited corner of Europe, still blighted with uneasy relationships with its neighbours but perhaps there is something we could learn from its people. A healthy sense of patriotism and pride in the national history and traditions combined with the openness to the outside world could be a good antidote for many of us in the increasingly globalised, cosmopolitan world where nihilism and relativisation of all values often takes precedence before common sense and we are often encouraged by certain politicians to adopt a meaningless (on its own) "European" identity before the national one.

      June 4, 2013

    • Martin

      All this aside, big thanks for Maja and Lea for organising and conducting another fantastic Balkan event and all others for great company. Hope to join you for more in the future.

      June 4, 2013

  • Ana

    I am soooooooo jealous by looking at your pictures!!!

    June 4, 2013

  • Sybrand

    It was ok...

    2 · June 4, 2013

  • Mehdi

    Wow what a trip! I loved every bit of it and I appreciated every moment I shared with this outstanding group of individuals. Looking forward to seeing you all again! Thanks Maja and Lea for a faultless organisation, we were truly spoiled.

    1 · June 3, 2013

  • Maja

    This was one of my best holidays ever. Lovely group of people who took responcibility for their own enjoyment, created a great atmosphere. The backdrop was amazing, from the highest peak in the Balkans covered in snow to the oldest lake in Europe, drinking lots of rakija, dancing the night away, walking through Sofia and Skopje I was happy to share this week with some really fascinating indviduals. Thank you for being yourselves!!!

    1 · June 3, 2013

  • Emmylou

    A magical week! It felt like we skipped from one delight to the next - amazing hikes, views, historical sights, food, drinks, swims... every little bit was a pleasure. And what a lovely group of people. How did we fit so much in?! Maja and Lea, I can't thank you enough... THANK YOU! Emmy xxx

    1 · June 2, 2013

  • Tiziana

    ME TOOOO!!! :`( don't leave me in this crappy rainy place, load me on as an additional piece of luggage, pleeease

    May 24, 2013

    • Marie-Andrée

      Hey the ducks and farmers looooooove the rain :)

      May 24, 2013

    • Maja

      I think the luggage limit is 32 kg.

      May 24, 2013

  • Lea B.

    I'm so excited about this trip and just can't wait to meet you all in Sofia! Have a nice flight!

    May 23, 2013

    • Maja

      So are weeeeeeee!!!

      May 23, 2013

  • Marie-Andrée

    Looking forward to the lovely pics that you will be posting after your trip for those of us that couldn't join you. Have a lovely time and I'm sure you will :)

    May 23, 2013

    • Maja

      Thanks Marie, especially for the reminder to take my camera.

      May 23, 2013

  • Grae

    Thanks Maja,
    Will aim to pick up the same bus @ Brent Cross

    May 20, 2013

  • Maja

    I will be aiming to catch the 6:11 Greenline bus near Marble Arch on Friday (bus stop 14A). It arrives at Luton Airport at 19:25. This bus goes every 30 minutes and starts from Victoria at :00 and :30 past the hour.

    1 · May 20, 2013

  • Edmund

    It is the global currency card from caxton you would need, I have spoken to them and it is normally received by you about 3 working days after applying however the maximum is 7 working days so their is still time for you to get 1

    May 2, 2013

    • Maja

      Great, thanks for the suggestion Edmund.

      May 2, 2013

    • Kuldip

      Thanks Edmund. Decided to get the Halifax CC. For anyone else interested in http://www.moneysavin...­

      May 6, 2013

  • Maja

    Lovely seeing you all yesterday, your questions and enthusiasm make me look forward to this trip even more than I already am. Here is a link to the guide on Macedonia I mentioned http://www.amazon.co.uk/Macedonia-Bradt-Travel-Guides-Thammy/dp/1841623954/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367487608&sr=1-1&keywords=travel+guide+macedonia
    You can get it on Amazon.

    1 · May 2, 2013

  • Edmund

    For the cheapest way to get your currency check this link i use the Caxton fx card i will let you know tomorrow on here if you need the European card or the global one for the countries we are going too ;-) http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money#prepaid

    May 2, 2013

  • Ann

    Maja, you said that one space has become available. Please confirm and email me the costs and your account details. Thanks in advance. Anja

    April 22, 2013

  • Maja

    Hi Branko, thanks for posting the links, I haven't seen them before, they look stunning. Last time we went through Macedonia we went through the westerrn part (Debar) this time we'll be going through the east, where we'll also see plenty amazing sites. If you want to stay a day extra in SKopje you're welcome to join me to Matka via Vodno mountain to see the lake and the caves. It's one of my favourite hikes.
    Macedonia is small but we can't see everythink during one trip I am afraid, so you'd need to come on the next trip :-)

    March 17, 2013

  • Branko

    Maja how much 'spare' time we have, as I would like to visit some stunning places. Are we going near Monastery that is in spot at Rila National Park, as well as Monastery Sv Georij Pobedonosac near Debar.
    I understand that I will need some extra time after Skopje to visit the amazing places as canyon Matka, its Caves and lake where Russian Ambassador swam and beautiful Dorjan lake with its mud and fishing. I am not going to ask about delicious and mouth watering food or about wine and music tours. And I agree with Ana that more of these trips could be done in future

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VphmsxKqNgE

    Just one of several amazing presentations -videos and you do not need to understand Macedonian language in order to enjoy it

    1 · March 17, 2013

  • Ana

    this trip looks absolutely fantastic, I have family commitments and I cannot make it, but I really hope we could organize a similar one soon!!

    March 10, 2013

    • Martin

      Yes Ana, Picos de EUROPA... I'm in ;-)

      March 10, 2013

  • Maja

    Hi guys, the first installment was due on the 20th of February. I only have 9 payments, so still waiting for the rest. I am extremly busy next week and I'd like to do the transfer as soon as possible, so prompt payment is much appreciated. Thanks!

    February 22, 2013

  • Maja

    There are still enquiries about this trip and the spaces are only limited to 18. Please remove yourself from the list if you haven't bought you flight. Thank you!

    February 2, 2013

  • Maja

    We have a minibus for ourselves, all the luggage is in the minibus which takes it to the next hotel while we are hiking. Except for one night, when we stay in a mountain hut, when you should just bring your essentials with you and definitely not a massive rucksack.

    1 · January 26, 2013

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