Mavrovo: Situated in the northwestern region of the Republic of Macedonia, Mavrovo is a region characterised by its small hamlets, a center for winter sports and the famous Mavrovo National Park. Mavrovi Anovi, Leunovo, Nikiforovo and Mavrovo are some of the popular hamlets in the region. The region is named so as the larger section of the population is housed in the village of Mavrovo which was also home to some of the famous families in the area. Two exquisite locations, namely the Mavrovo Reservoir and Bistra mountains fuelled its growth towards becoming a famous tourist attraction. Mavrovo also happens to be the home of a famous skiing resort in the Macedonian republic.
There are a number of tourist attractions in the region besides activities that you can engage yourself with over the course of your stay in Mavrovo. Here we take a look at some of them.
• Mavrovo National Park: It was in 1949 that Mavrovo was proclaimed a national park. Bordering Albania along the north-west, it is spread over a massive area of around seventy thousand square hectares. The park boasts of a diverse geography, covering large parts of the Alpine mountains in the area. There are fifty-two peaks in the region that rise to above two thousand meters, a significant number considering the total area it covers. Each of these peaks are separated by a system of canyons and deep gorges. Mavrovo National Park is also where Mavrovo Lake is situated. An artificial lake, it was created when a dam was built in the area. Mount Bistra, home to a popular skiing resort in Mavrovo, surrounds this beautiful lake.
• Church in Lake Mavrovo: When a dam was built near Mount Bistra, it led to the creation of Lake Mavrovo and flooded the surrounding area. Owing to this, a church was affected and got submerged in the waters of the lake. Parts of this old church can still be seen rising out of the waters. During summer when the lake often dries up, the entire structure emerges into the open. A new church has since been built, standing close to the old one on slightly higher ground.
• Deer Leap Bridge: It is said that the bridge was built by an Ottoman lord (called “bey”) of the region during the fourteenth century. The story goes that the bey was out with his army on a deer hunt. The animal, though wounded, managed to escape every time. After nearing the Garska river, it jumped over to the other side but died soon after. The bey built this bridge, gracefully shaped like the jump of the deer, to commemorate the bravery of the animal. If you want to reach this place, drive south towards Debar from Mavrovo Lake and turn left into the villages of Tresonce, Lazaropole and Gari. Travel a further couple of kilometers on this road and you will come to this six-hundred-year old bridge. Drive too fast and you are likely to miss it altogether!
• Snowboarding and skiing: Zare Lazarevski, or Marovo ski resort as it is popularly known as, is a popular resort in the region. As per the idea of Zara Lazarevski, the construction of the chairlifts and ski-lifts started in 1964. A single chairlift, a couple of double chairlifts and eleven ski-lifts are in use in the region. The single and double chairlifts end at respective heights of 1400 and 1610 meters above sea level while the ski-lifts commence their journey from above. The skiing resort is situated under the Medenica peak which, standing at 2160 meters, is the highest peak in the region.
• Mountain biking: if you are looking for an adrenalin pumping bike ride in the region, Mavrovo offers you some of the best biking trails. Rented bikes are available at the cheap rate of five Euros per hour, something I have had the pleasure of trying. You can also carry along your own bike for a more hands-free riding experience. Summer and spring season are the best times for a run down the slopes. If you are starting out from the region of Mavrovo lakes, head out along the Galicnik trail for the best biking experience.
• Fishing: Minnows and trouts are among the most abundant fishes in the region. Head down to Mavrovo lake for the weekend and you will get a chance to see a lot of fishermen in action. If you are lucky enough, you may even be able to make a catch of your own. Mavrovo trout is a recommended dish at any local restaurant so make sure you do not miss out on the same. Mark my words, it is a delicacy like none other you have ever tasted before.
Conclusion: The transport system and connectivity in the Mavrovo region does not quite live up to expectations. Public buses are the only other means of transport so it is best to have your own vehicle, hired or otherwise, to carry you around the place. Being cramped up inside a rickety bus along with the local peasants is an experience you would want to give a miss while on a relaxing tour.