Multi-sport through the Balkans

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Multi-sport through the Balkans
Duration:
8
Days
Priced from:
2999.00
USD

Multi-sport through the Balkans

Trip Overview

Macedonia Balkans Adventure tour with Bikehike Adventures as featured on Forbes(Biking, Hiking and Kayaking)  At the crossroads between the East and West, Christianity and Islam, Macedonia has long been a melting pot of civilizations. While this Balkan nation has many notable similarities to both Greece and Turkey, this emerging destination retains an unmatched level of authenticity. BikeHike’s Macedonia & Albania: Multi-sport through the Balkans offers an itinerary filled with cultural encounters, active pursuits and the culinary influences of the Mediterranean and Middle East. We visit medieval monasteries, timeworn bazaars and ancient fortresses. We kayak through Matka Canyon’s crystal clear waters; bike around Ohrid Lake into Albania; and hike through Mavrovo National Park, a UNESCO heritage site. At night, we refuel over exquisite traditional meals, often paired with local wines and artisan cheeses. For those early adopters who crave the path less trodden, Macedonia awaits.

WOW FACTORS

  • Hike through magnificent UNESCO-listed Mavrovo National Park 
  • Cycle through an endless panorama of vineyards and centuries-old village houses, around Tikvesh (Macedonia's "Tuscany without the Tourists")
  • Kayak the crystal clear waters of Matka Canyon 

Named as one of '9 Amazing Adventures for 2018' by Forbes.com

Listen to a podcast interview we recorded with our local guide here. 

Watch our webinar video "All about our Macedonia tour" here

Difficulty Level

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Itinerary & Map

Day 1

Skopje
Arrival
Upon arrival into the Skopje International Airport, you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel in the city. After a brief break to get settled, if time allows, we will venture out on a short walking tour of Skopje’s most famous sites including the Stone Bridge, Mother Teresa memorial house, the Old Bazaar and the Skopje Fortress. In the evening, we’ll be treated to a Macedonian welcome dinner at a traditional restaurant. The local dishes served are specifically typical to Skopje.

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Dinner

Day 2

Skopje - Matka Canyon
Kayaking
After breakfast, we will transfer 30 minutes to Matka canyon, one of Macedonia’s most popular kayaking, mountaineering and climbing areas. The vast Matka Canyon is a magnificent protected natural reserve. Available for your discovery within it are some medieval monasteries and caves along with an abundant variety of flora and fauna. Today, starting out from the Monastery of St. Andrew, we will kayak on our sit-on-top kayaks along peaceful Matka Lake to arrive at Vrelo cave. There, we will leave our kayaks and enter the cave to marvel at its interior. We will then paddle back to the day’s starting point by kayak. Upon our return, we will have a short transfer to the village of Saraj. There, a delicious lunch of local traditional dishes will be waiting for us. After lunch, we’ll transfer 1.5 hours to the village of Janche, in Mavrovo National Park, where we’ll dine and overnight. 

Kayaking Distance: 6 km / 3.7 mi
Kayaking Duration: 3 - 4 hrs
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Mavrovo National Park
Biking
Today, we’ll switch gears and get on our bikes for the day, riding 50 km / 30 mi through Mavrovo National Park’s mountainous and alpine terrain. We will first have a 30 minute drive to Carevec, our starting point located at 1600 m / 5200 ft. From there, we’ll cycle on dirt roads that wind through pastures and meadows, passing several flocks of sheep along the way. We’ll eventually enter deep into a forest, the road gradually leading to the village of Leunovo. At the village, our ride will return to paved roads as we cycle toward Bunec, a national park known for its deer. Along the way, we’ll have time for a short stop to explore an educational trail to learn about the national park’s wildlife. We will then continue biking around the lake on the lookout for a perfect, picturesque picnic lunch spot. That evening, we’ll return to our same hotel within Mavrovo National Park for dinner. 

Biking Distance: 42 km / 26 mi
Biking Duration: 3-4 hours
Ascent: + 300 m (984 ft)
Descent: - 750 m (2460 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Mavrovo National Park - Mount Medenica
Hiking
This morning, we will transfer 45 minutes to the small town of Galicnik. From there, we’ll spend the day hiking in another area of Mavrovo National Park. The hike starts at 1400 m / 4600 ft and at Mount Medenica we will reach our highest point, 2160 m / 7100 ft. From there, we will descend on foot to Galicnik where we’ll have a special lunch served by a local family in their small family restaurant. After lunch, we’ll meet our driver and transfer to Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site. En route, we’ll stop briefly at the monastery of St. John the Baptist Bigorski, one of the region’s most famous monasteries, famous for the wooden carved iconostasis created by local woodcarvers in the 19th century. The monastery is a must-see for any visitor to Macedonia. This evening, we’ll be arriving in Ohrid in time for dinner.

Hiking Distance: 13 km / 8 mi
Hiking Duration: 5 - 6 hrs
Ascent: + 600 m (1969ft)
Descent: - 800 m (2625 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Macedonia & Albania - Ohrid Lake
Biking
We’re back on our bikes today, riding around Ohrid Lake and into Albania. Today’s route is entirely on paved roads.  Once we’ve passed the border crossing, we’ll ride along the Albanian coast of Lake Ohrid, stopping for coffee in the small coastal town of Pogradec. We then continue back to Macedonia on a leisurely ride back to Ohrid, along the lake’s east coast. This section has a few steep but short climbs. We’ll stop for lunch in a quaint lakeside village where there is a small beach for a refreshing swim. Once back in Ohrid, we’ll explore the city by foot, visiting the Church of St. Sofia, the Amphitheatre and the Tzar Samuil’s Fortress. For dinner, we’ll be transferred from the hotel to the nearby village of Kuratica, where we’ll have a very special home-cooked dinner. 

Biking Distance: 45 km / 28 mi 
Biking Duration: 4 - 5 hours
Ascent: + 320 m (1050 ft)
Descent: - 560m (1837 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Prilep - King Marko's Towers
Hiking
After breakfast, we will depart for the city of Prilep. From there, we will start our hike from King Marko’s towers onward to the Treskavec Monastery, established in the 12th century and located at an elevation of 1250 m / 4100 ft. The hike entails a little bit of scrambling with some sections secured with a steel cable. Upon arrival, we will be rewarded with extraordinary views from this ancient monastery’s exquisite location overlooking Prilep. The area’s last remaining monk, Brother Kalist, runs the monastery. Once here, there is a good chance we will have the rare opportunity to meet him and learn more about him and of the monastery. We will then drive 1.5 hours to the Tikvesh wine region for an overnight stay at a winery estate. If time allows on the way, we’ll stop to explore the Roman archaeological site of Stobi. This site is famous for its remains of the Roman city Stobensium, once an important trade and cultural centre. Tonight, we’ll have a wine tasting during dinner, arranged at our hotel-winery. 

Hiking Distance: 9 km / 5.5 mi
Hiking Duration: 4 - 5 hrs
Ascent: + 650 m (2133 ft)
Descent: - 100m (328 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7

Tikvesh
Biking
Today, we will be biking in the picturesque Tikvesh wine region. Tikvesh is the largest wine region in the Balkans. After breakfast, we’ll take a short drive to our starting point. We’ll cycle on peaceful country roads, through an endless panorama of vineyards, tobacco fields and centuries-old village houses. After a stop in Barovo, we will cycle to a small family boutique winery in the village of Krnjevo. There, we will have a full wine tasting accompanied by an epic farewell lunch filled with dishes typical for the Tikvesh region. Our bellies filled, we’ll be transferred to Skopje in the late afternoon hours. Tonight, our last Macedonian dinner will be enjoyed in Debar Maalo, Skopje’s bohemian quarters.

Biking Distance: 25 km / 16 mi
Biking Duration: 3-4 hours
Ascent: + 350 m (1148ft)
Descent: - 200 m (656 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Day 8

Skopje 
Departure
Today is the conclusion of the Macedonia and Albania Multi-sport through the Balkans Adventure. You will be transferred to the airport to connect with your flight home. 

Meals: Breakfast

NOTE about Ascent/Descent numbers
The ascent/descent numbers are usually generated using Ride with GPS. The numbers are TOTAL ascent/descent for the day and these numbers do not suggest altitude. There are usually multiple small ascents and descents added up throughout the day to reach this total ascent/descent for the day. (While our numbers are generally consistent with Ride with GPS, depending on the mapping technology used, numbers may vary).

What's Included

TRIP INCLUSIONS:
All accommodation in 3-4 star hotels (twin shared), meals as indicated, land transportation, Specialized/Scott/RAM bikes, sit-on-top kayaks, airport transfers and English speaking guides. 

TRIP DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International airfare, airport departure taxes, gratuities, meals not indicated and items of a personal nature.

MEALS:
7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners

ACCOMMODATION:
Hotel: 7 Nights

Trip Facts

Weather in Macedonia

In Macedonia, the best time to travel is during the summer and fall as May-October is the warmest and driest part of the year. The average monthly temperature in the summer is 73 F/23 C, but a sweater may be needed in the evenings. The winters can be very cold, and often drizzly, snowy and windy, especially in the interior and the north.December to February: Sunny skies, warm days.

May to September: Summer. Warm, dry season. 
October to April: Winter. Cooler, snowy months. 

Travel Documents

Citizens of Canada and the US only require a valid passport to enter Macedonia. Please ensure that your passport is valid for six months beyond the date of arrival, or you may be refused entry. Always carry a photocopy of your passport in the unfortunate case of loss or theft; this precaution will speed up the reissue process. Visa requirements vary from country to country. Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Macedonia and can enter as a tourist for up to 30 days. Americans also not not require a visa and can enter Macedonia for up to 90 days as a tours. Check with your airline in case you have connecting flights overseas as part of your journey to Macedonia as it is possible one of the countries you pass through en route to your destination may require a separate transit visa.  

Food and Water

Traditional Macedonian cuisine combines Balkan and Mediterranean characteristics, influenced most dominantly by Greek and the Turkish tastes. You will notice a great deal of grilled meat (Skara) and freshwater fish. Macedonian Meze is a variety of cold “creamed” vegetable spreads, initially cooked until soft and then blended with herbs and spices. The most common are Ajvar (a sauce of red peppers, eggplant, garlic, chili and oil), Tarator (yoghurt, cucumber, walnuts and garlic) and Pindzur (roasted eggplant and peppers). These spreads are eaten with pita bread.Tavce Gravce is the Macedonian national dish and unique to the country, which is boiled beans with onions, peppers, tomatoes, cooked with spices in oil and flour. It is traditionally served with sausage and eaten with bread. Rakija is a strong grape brandy claimed by many to be the national beverage. Macedonia also has many beer breweries and an impressive wine culture. The preferred drink in Macedonia is usually coffee though, either as a strong Turkish variety or as the usual European cappuccinos and espressos. Water is chlorinated in Macedonia and locals drink tap water. However, for foreigners who have not built up an immunity, bottled water is recommended as some strains of bacteria may be still present in the tap water in some places. Fruit drinks, soft drinks, coffee and tea are all widely available and safe to drink.  

FAQ

How big are BikeHike's groups?

Our adventures are built for small groups, with a maximum of 12 travellers on each guided tour. Each group is diverse, comprised of men and women of many different nationalities and ages. By travelling in small groups we leave minimal ecological impact, cause less disruption to the native life and are able to gain a better appreciation for our surroundings. Small numbers also allow greater flexibility and spontaneity: a dinner in a local home, an impromptu village wedding invite and any such experiences that can become among the most memorable experiences of your BikeHike adventure.

How fit do I need to be to join this trip?

We understand that people come in many fitness levels, so we've graded our trips accordingly. There are four difficulty levels on our trips: Easy, Moderate, Challenging, and Strenuous. 

This is a “moderate” trip. These trips include 4-5 hours of physical activity throughout the day, with many breaks along the way. The biking portions of BikeHike Adventure’s trips are the most cardiovascular portions of the trips. During the biking section, our travellers don’t have to carry anything on their backs as any packs can be carried in the support vehicle. During the hiking portions of the trip, the most you would have to carry on your back is a daypack.

What does the Ascent/Descent indicate? Is it the same as Altitude?

The ascent/descent numbers are usually generated using Ride with GPS. The numbers are TOTAL ascent/descent for the day and these numbers do not suggest actual altitude. There are usually multiple small ascents and descents added up throughout the day to reach this total ascent/descent for the day. (While our numbers are generally consistent with Ride with GPS, depending on the mapping technology used, numbers may vary).  This trip is not a high altitude trip.

Has this trip been run before?

BikeHike Adventures has been operating since 1994. 

The logistics of organizing tours to remote corners of the world can be very complex. Our trip development department spends long hours researching destinations, routes, ground operations and equipment. All itineraries are screened without clients before they are added to our growing repertoire of adventures. Nothing is untested. 

Can you tell me about your typical BikeHike travellers on this trip?

Our travellers share a common love for outdoor adventure. Most are looking for a physical adventure in an unfamiliar destination. A typical trip is comprised of men and women who are in good physical condition, who exercise regularly and are invigorated by a personal challenge. The age range on this trip is typically from 35-60, although we occasionally get younger and older travellers as well.

Which airport do we fly in and out of for this trip?

Skopje, Macedonia. You can arrive anytime on day 1 of the trip, although there is a group dinner arranged in the evening. You can depart  anytime on day 8.

Can I take this trip if...

I am a solo traveller? How does solo accommodation and costing work?

Many of our travellers (both men and women) join as singles. On average, BikeHike groups are 75% single travellers and 25% couples. Unlike many adventure travel companies, we don't charge single supplement fees to solo travellers. Instead, we pair you with another traveller of the same gender. If we can't find you a roommate, you get your own room at no additional charge. A single private room supplement fee is only required if you specifically request a confirmed private room for the duration of the trip. Learn more about solo travel with BikeHike

I have special dietary requirements?

We will do our best to accommodate special dietary requests (e.g. vegetarian, gluten free, etc.), but ask that you please discuss your request with us when signing up for a trip. Macedonia is a destination with a great variety of food options, and many of the meals are farm to table with an excellent variety of locally grown vegetables and other produce. This is one of our top trips with one of the greatest abilities to provide a wide variety of dietary options. 

I am travelling with children? Is this trip children friendly?

While most of our trips are created with adults in mind, many of our itineraries are suitable for strong and active teenagers. This trip is generally good for older children or teenagers. However, we do offer many Family Focused trips, some of which are able to accommodate children as young as six.

Accommodation

Most of our trips include comfortable mid-range accommodations. This includes accommodation that provides a clean and comfortable experience in characterful surroundings that reflect the destination. To build stronger connections with the communities and support the local economies, we avoid using large international chain brands on BikeHike trips. 

More about our hotel choices in Macedonia

BikeHike prefers small hotels that showcase the character and local flair of each destination. Throughout this tour, we have hand-picked accommodations for you that showcase Macedonia’s character and charm. One night, we’ll stay at a hotel-winery in the stunning Tikvesh wine region. Many other nights, we will be staying in some especially charming inns that resemble more of a western style B&B than a hotel. Often times, these stays are a highlight of the trip as they really connect you to the small villages where you’ll be visiting. In Kuratica, a village of merely 300 inhabitants, we’ll stay at a small hotel where we will also dine with a home-cooked meal. In Mavrovo National Park, we’ll also stay in the small village of Janche (150 inhabitants) for two nights at a small hotel where we’ll enjoy delicious home style meals. These are experience one would not be able to have otherwise.  



Overall, this trip has a spectacular combination of exceptional hospitality and fantastic meals, making it a tour that really stands out in Europe. 

Click HERE for more information about accommodation styles.

Adventure Dates

  • Oct 06 - Oct 13, 2019
  • May 23 - May 30, 2020
  • Jun 14 - Jun 21, 2020
  • Jul 12 - Jul 19, 2020
  • Aug 08 - Aug 15, 2020
  • Sep 05 - Sep 12, 2020
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Price

(Land only, based on twin/shared room)
2999.00
USD
per person

No single supplement fees
** Guaranteed departures on two travellers

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Add-Ons

  • It's easy to add days before and after your tour. Just ask! 
Day Destination Activity
Duration
Distance Ascent / Descent Lodging Meals
1
Skopje
Arrival
— / —
Hotel
d
2
Skopje - Matka Canyon
Kayaking
3 - 4 hours
6 km
3.7 mi
— / —
Hotel
b,
l,
d
3
Mavrovo National Park
Biking
3 - 4 hours
42 km
26 mi
+ 300 m (984 ft)
- 750 m (2460 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
4
Mavrovo National Park - Mount Medenica
Hiking
5 - 6 hours
13 km
8 mi
+ 600 m (1969ft)
- 800 m (2625 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
5
Macedonia & Albania - Ohrid Lake
Biking
4 - 5 hours
45 km
28 mi 
+ 320 m (1050 ft)
- 560m (1837 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
6
Prilep - King Marko's Towers
Hiking
4 - 5 hours
9 km
5.5 mi
+ 650 m (2133 ft)
- 100m (328 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
7
Tikvesh
Biking
3 - 4 hours
25 km
16 mi
+ 350 m (1148ft)
- 200 m (656 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
8
Skopje
Departure
— / —
b

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PB
Patch B
June 17, 2018

Our Macedonia trip was everything we could have asked for….and more! It exceeded all expectations, and is really a unique destination.
All of the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly. We were spoiled with two amazing guides with impressive knowledge of history and politics as well as a passion for their work and their country. They are also both really interesting individuals and fun to travel with! The scenery was breathtaking, there was plenty of culture to soak in, and the food was was simply organic, flavourful, beautiful, healthy and abundant! It was a family trip to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday, and we are all thankful and over the moon to have been able to hike and bike and kayak in such amazing places as a family. This was my 7th trip with Bike Hike Adventures, and once again they provided the opportunity to explore a different part of the world in a unique way - off the beaten track, and without many other tourists to be seen. They scouted out quaint accommodation, the best meals, and activities and sights that are a great mix of adventure and awe. The Macedonia trip has so many special touches - meals prepared and served in local homes, incredible characters that add to the journey, and coffee/tea and local treats served at a beautiful waterfall! - the people are welcoming, helpful and friendly! The history and art that exists in the Churches, Monasteries and Mosques is incredible to experience - especially when you have to hike and to access some of them! When telling people that we were going to Macedonia, many didn’t know exactly where it was, and why we would want to go there. I am really happy to be able to explain all the amazing things that we experienced in Macedonia and to be able to recommend it as a fantastic travel destination! Great people, interesting culture, fantastic food, exceptional guides, and a beautiful landscape…all with hardly a tourist to be seen!

Banff, Canada
AK
Alice K
June 10, 2017

I went on my first trip with BikeHike in May 2016 to Macedonia, and it definitely will not be my last. I loved it, mostly because BikeHike created experiences that I could not have achieved if I planned it on my own.

Vancouver, Canada
YB
Yana B
May 30, 2016

I've traveled with BikeHike Adventures four times and I'm planning my next trip now! I traveled to Macedonia this year and had the best time with the people on my trip. We had a local guide who shared his favorite mountain biking trails and hiking spots along with a vast amount of historical and cultural information. The trip also included several opportunities to experience the culture of Macedonia in locally owned restaurants and hotels where we met the owners and enjoyed meals and shared food, music and stories.

The trips are always well-organized with balanced between being on the go and having time to explore and relax on your own. The guides, activities and the accommodations are tailored for safe yet challenging adventures. I appreciate the attention to finding parks and trails that are off the beaten path and full of spectacular scenery.

I have traveled independently for many years but now I prefer to visit new places with BikeHike because they've done the advance work for me. I don't have to find the trails, hotels or restaurants on my own and hope things work out. I get to really relax and soak in the experience.

Looking forward to the next trip!

New York, New York, USA
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