Shar planina


October 2019

Autumn colors in the wilderness of the country’s second highest mountains, peaking with Titov vrv (2747 m).

26/10, day 1: Popova ShApka – KRIVASHIJA valley

Climbing towards the saddle below Plat. The rocky peak in the background is Kobilica (2528 m).

View from Plat (2398 m). The pyramid on the left is Titov vrv (2747 m) which is the highest peak of Shar planina. The rocky peak in the middle is Sreden Kamen (2465 m).

Descending into the Leshnica valley.

Below the rocks in the background we saw two chamois (mountain goats).

The ruin of a former mountain hut, which was unfortunately destroyed during the conflict in 2001. The conflict seems to be unresolved. The local hiking club (P K Ljuboten) is continuously marking trails and putting up signs in the area, but some locals just keep destroying them.

Rocks above Leshnica valley

A hill affected by an avalanche

Pena river valley

We pitched our tent on a small meadow in the Pena velley, by the Krivashija stream, and made dinner over the open fire.

Some animal had dug out this wasp nest. Possibly a bear or fox, but more likely a badger or honey buzzard bird (Swedish: bivråk)

A few wasps were still coming out of the ground


A short detour in the lower Krivashija valley visits a small gorge with a waterfall.

The waterfall in the small gorge from the detour

The mist was getting thicker as we ascended up the Krivashija valley. We saw bear droppings on the path and a dead mole.

Suddenly the rain started pouring down. We took shelter in this small shepherds hut.

Sara gathering rain water from the roof, we will turn it into coffee :)

The Krivashija waterfall was near the hut

It stopped raining so we started ascending to the upper part of Krivashija valley. But the mist from below came closer and closer…

…and closer

When we reached the uppermost part of Krivashija valley, the mist seem to have stopped chasing us. Perhaps we could climb the Titov vrv now?

A lake in the uppermost part of Krivashija valley.

We climbed to the pass below Turcin peak, hoping to climb Titov vrv from there. But as soon as we got to the pass the weather turned worse. Heavy thunder made it dangerous to be up there, so we immediately descended into the Slapska valley instead. We didn’t know anything about this valley, but it turned out to be quite easy to walk there.

We pitched our tent in strong winds and rain. It was very cold so it was nice when we could finally crawl into our sleeping bags and make some hot coffee.  The night became interesting, with plenty of thunder, rain and strong winds. Some of the lines of the tent became loose, but Sara was brave and went out into the storm in the middle of the night to secure the tent. The next morning, we discovered that the long metal poles that hold up the outer tent were deformed.


Our campsite in Slapska valley the next morning. It was still wet and my camera lens was foggy…

Rainbow over Slapska valley. We saw bear droppings on the path.

Last view of Titov vrv (the second peak from the right)

The last part followed a dirt road and then over skislopes down to Popova shapka.

Macedonian food in a restaurant in Popova Shapka.

We hauled down a car and asked the driver if he knew how to get down to Tetovo. The driver and his friend (both called Jovan) happened to be members of the hiking club P K Ljuboten.  They not only drove us down to Tetovo, but gave us a guided tour of the city’s historic sights. They also showed us their club office and found us a nice hotel in the center. Thanks Jovan & Jovan! :)

Old Ottoman building, now a recidence for people of the Bektashi religion, which is a branch of Islam.

The Bektashis offered us some Baklava. The guy to the right spoke Danish. The bearded guy was the “priest” and they assured us he was no terrorist in spite of his long beard :) The guys sitting next to the priest are Jovan & Jovan. It was really interesting to get to know the Bektashi, which we had never heard about before.

Old Ottoman hamam in Tetovo, now an art gallery. Next to this was the famous “painted mosque” which was very beautiful.

The office of P K Ljuboten, the oldest hiking club in Macedonia (from 1925).
Jovan & Jovan showed us a bunch of photos and old gear, and gave us maps and other information about the Shar mountains. It was really nice to see all this – THANKS! :)

In Skopje a last surprise awaited us – Bojan!!! No visit to Macedonia is complete without meeting him :)

Matka canyon

October 2008

Just outside Skopje lies this fantastic canyon. It is the most developed place for climbing in Macedonia. Hidden among the rocks are several ancient monasteries that you can hike to.

Matka lake – Sv. Nikola MONASTERY (2010-10-03)

The entrance to the Matka canyon

The Matka lake

Nice layers on the rocks to the left. Our plan was to walk a zig-zagging trail up the forested slope between the two rocky peaks, to Sv. Nikola monastery.

We took a short boat-ride to the other side of the lake, to reach the trail.

Cyclamen flowers along the steep zig-zagging trail.

The medieval church of Sv. Nikola. To the left are rocks where people were climbing.

We camped here. It was a tranquil, beautiful spot.
To the left in the background you can see the forest-covered mountains that gave the place a feeling of being in the middle of the wilderness.

Frescoes inside the church.

Sadly it was covered by “graffiti” from visitors.
Some of them were old, we found one from 1881.

We walked out on the rocks to get this view into the Matka canyon.

The view down to the restaurant at Matka lake.

Benjamin & Eva enjoying the view

Dinner at the little house behind the church

BOAT RIDE TO VRELO CAVE (September 2018)

Suddenly a woman started singing a Maceodnian song, very atmospheric!