outside ohrid, Ohrid
The only active volcano in on the Balkans can be found about 7 km from Ohrid, in the village Kosel along the road from Ohrid to Resen and Bitola. There is a sign along the road that points to the volcano.
Volcano probably isn't the right word, because it never erupted. Geothermal surface feature would be more correct. Sulfur gasses (hydrogen sulfide, H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are emitted from holes in the ground, from a crack in the deeper layers of the earth.
You already can smell the volcano when you're driving through Kosel. At first you may wonder if one of your fellow travelers cut the cheese :-)
While the smell is still bearable when you are on the road, as soon as you get closer to the volcano, the stench becomes very bad.
I have read an article in the Free Time Guide Macedonia about the volcano, where they wrote that if you keep a dog near the holes, it will die in an hour. Also, there was the story of a man who as a kid witnessed somebody going into the hole, and who was found dead later. I found these stories a bit exaggerated, until I noticed several dead animals near the holes, see the pictures!
There also used to come hot water from the holes, this was last witnessed in 1973 when water of about 30 degrees Celsius was discovered at a depth of 80-100 m.
The sulfuric soil of the volcano is said to have curing qualities, e.g. for hemorrhoids and skin diseases. A mixture of clay and sulfur is applied to the affected parts of the body.
Allegedly, the volcano also tells the locals when the weather is changing: the smell of rotten eggs becomes worse in that case.
Electrical appliances don't live as long in Kosel as in other places: The sulfuric gases eat away the metal and the pipes...
Coordinates: N41.16948 E20.83708
I have included this tip in the "off the beaten track" section as the tiny village of Peshtina, the nearest settlement is, understandably not on the VT database. In fact, it is about eight miles or 13 km from Ohrid itself. It is a place called Bay of the Bones, which I thought slightly macabre although it turned out to be a fascinating place combining two of my great loves, diving and archaeology.
It is incredible to think that beginning in about 1200 BC humans started building a platformed society on piles extending out over Lake Ohrid. It lasted over five centuries and extended, at its height, to 8500 square metres. I have no idea what prompted them to do this, perhaps something to do with fishing but it is an impressive achievement.
What greets the visitor today is an attraction in two parts. There is a museum building housing some of the artefacts so far recovered and then there is a reconstruction of how the communities would have looked. Whilst obviously modern, it gives a great insight into just how comfortably these people could make themselves with very limited technology. Close by is a reconstructed Roman fort but unfortunately we did not have time to visit that.
I believe the authorities here are trying to promote diving tourism exploring the site, which would interest me greatly.
It is situated at GPS coordinate Northing: 40° 59' 39.41" N, GPS coordinate Easting: 20° 47' 52.72" E should you have satnav or else follow the road from Ohrid towards Peshtani, you will find it.
As with so many tips on my Macedonia page, I can give you no information about prices or opening times as everything was organised for us during the wonderful Euromeet 2011. No doubt local sources will be able to assist.
The Bay of the Bones Museum is an open air museum showing an authentic reconstruction of a pile dwellings settlement.
The history of such a city on wooden pillars dates back to the years between 1200 to 700 before Christ.
The existence of this kind of settlement on Lake Ohrid has been proved during archaelogical researchs.
Since 1997 more than 6000 wooden pilars and similar artefacts have been found in the lake.
The entrance to the Bay of the Bones Museum cost 100 MKD (approx. 1,70 Euro)
The Bay of the Bones Museum is situated approximately 14 km south of Ohrid near the campsite Gradisthe. We visited the place during the 7th VT Euromeet on a bus tour. A large parking lot can be found just in front of the museum.
Prehistoric pile dwelling settlement in the bay of bones at Gradishte at Lake Ohrid.
Close to the village Peshtani
also intresting site
Distance from Ohrid downtown: 13.18 km
A visit to Struga should be a must for those who enjoy sandy beaches - the current of Black Drin flows towards Struga and deposits fine sand on its shores. The water is quite shallow, thus perfect for families with kids.
But there are many more good reasons to visit this charming little town. The main city street is full of shops and bars, while the promenade by the Black Drin river hosts numerous restaurants. Local kids use the river, its bridges and waterfalls as some sort of an amusement water-park .
The area where Drin leaves lake Ohrid is picturesque, dtted with small boats, and one section of the riverbank serves as an open-air venue for concerts and other events. The annual Struga Poetry Evenings festival brings to Struga numerous poets from all over the globe and enriches the life of the whole area with great events, such as poetry readings and concerts. Locals are very proud and keen participants, they patiently listen to poets speaking in their native tongues. The festival is on during the second half of August. Even if you are not particularly interested in poetry, this is a perfect time to visit Struga and enjoy a special atmosphere and numerous other cultural events which accompany this festival.
This small church decicated to St Spas (Holy Savior) lies in the Galicica National park, at a place in the mountains called "Pole Doline", which means "field in the valley".
There are several benches around the church, and it is a perfect place for a picnic.
Enter Galicica National Park to the left just after the village Trpejca on the road from Ohrid to Saint Naum. About 5 km uphill, you can see a sign for the Church of St Spas on your right hand (see the pictures).
There is a small parking just enough for one car. Alternatively, you might be able to park somewhere next to the unpaved road to the church if you don't mind to drive a bit off-road.
The church is about 40 minutes walking slightly downhill.
The fields around the church are used by shepherds, so be careful because there also may be shepherd's dogs which are not known for their friendliness towards strangers. We were told to sit down or slowly walk away when confronted with them, I'll leave it up to you what you prefer to do :-)
This hike begins close to the start of the Hike to Lako Signoj summit. Enter Galicica National Park to the left just after Trpejca on the road from Ohrid to Saint Naum and drive all the way up the mountain.
About 5 km uphill, you can see a sign for the Church of St Spas, which is about 40 minutes walking.
You will pass a picnic place, where you can have a stop and walk to the Koritski Rid panorama point. Good view, but it will get only better the higher you go.
On the highest point of the road, there is the stopping place at the Chapel of St George, with excellent view of Lake Ohrid.
Drive a bit further until you see an information panel. The hike to Magaro Peak starts here.
According to the information panel, the hike is a round trip, the starting point is at 1600 m and the highest point is 2254 m. Total length is 10.5 km and it takes you about 4.5 hours. So far so good.
The first part is pretty well marked with red/white dots and arrows, and we could walk quite straightforward all the way up to peak Magaro. However, when we wanted to continue the rest of the circle from the summit, we could not find the trail because the marking was lacking.
So we went back the same way we came, and tried to approach the peak again from where the road splits, in order to complete the walk from the other direction.
We thought we found the right trail this time, but after quite some walking I noticed on my altimeter that we were higher than the Magaro peak! Since we were approximately at one line with the island Golem Grad in Lake Prespa, I figured we had crossed the border and were in Albania! Something you could go to jail for a couple of years ago, but things are more relaxed nowadays!
It is a shame that this trail was not better marked. We heard that efforts are being made to improve the markings of the trails in Galicica National Park in 2010, so maybe this one will also be better marked next time.
See my travelogue in the link below for a more detailed description of this hike.
At St Naum, you can arrange for a cab to take you over the mountain (Galicica National Park) to Lake Prespa. Ask the driver to stop at the panorama points, the view on both lakes is magnificent.
A good stopping point is the little chapel of St George, on top of the mountain, see the pictures.
From a certain point, you can see both lakes. You'll have to walk up the mountain with the electricity pylons, see here.
St Naum can be reached by road or boat from Ohrid. St Naum itself and the springs that feed Lake Ohrid are also worth while visiting.
Ramne is located a bit south-east in the hills above Ohrid.
It can be reached by car from Ohrid, but also via a hike of about an hour, starting close to the Biljana Springs in Ohrid.
Ramne is a rural village with some beautiful houses, as well as several abandoned houses.
The church of St Atanasia can be found a bit off the road from Ohrid to Ramne, as well as a small waterfall.
See the link below for more information.
The small rural village of Velestovo lies about 4 km from Ohrid, in the hills.
It is a good starting point for hikes into the Galicica National Park, and also the starting point of a mountain bike trail into the park.
The Church of St Presveta Bogorodica Precista is certainly worth a visit.
Follow the link below for my Velestovo page.
Velgosti is a village a bit north-east of Ohrid, if you take the turn-off to the right on the road from Ohrid to Resen and Bitola.
You can also walk from Ohrid to Velgosti, there is a marked trial of about 6.5 km starting close to the Biljana Springs in Ohrid.
In Velgosti, you can visit a few churches, among which the working Monastery of St Petka, where you can also get a very cheap room.
See the link below for more information about Velgosti.
The village Lescoec lies a bit north of Ohrid, along the road from Ohrid to Resen and Bitola.
There are several churches to visit, and you will have nice views of Ohrid and the lake.
Follow the link to my Lescoec page for more information.
Struga lies at the northern point of Lake Ohrid. It is a small town, and has a long sandy beach.
Characteristic of Struga is the long boulevard along the river Crni Drim, with restaurants and bars along the riverside.
Follow the link below for my Struga site.
Gorna Belica is small village in the hills north-west of Lake Ohrid.
The springs of Vevcani are also in that region.
Especially the natural environment of Gorna Belica is interesting. There is a trail called the "Via Ignatia Trail", after the old Roman road.
August 8 and August 9 are festival days in Gorna Belica.
Follow the link below for my Gorna Belica page and tips.
Lake Prespa lies south-east of the famous Lake Ohrid, in the south-west of Macedonia. The two lakes are separated by the Galicica National Park.
Golem Grad is a beautiful uninhabited island in Lake Prespa. It is rich in flora and fauna, such as pelicans.
Golem Grad means Big Town, but the island is also called Zmiski Ostrov, meaning Snake Island. Indeed, many snakes can be seen on the island.
Although you are free to navigate around the island by boat, all visits to the island have to be agreed with the administration of the Galicica National Park.
Follow the link below to my Golem Grad page and tips for more information.