Secrets of Prespa and Ohrid

3 countries, 3 lakes, 1000's of species

Group:

4 - 7

Cost:

£1,695 (£100 sgl.sp.)

Walking:

Gentle

Dates:

06-14 June 2020

20-28 June 2020

tbc June 2021

 

INTRODUCTION

A crossroads of European life, the Prespa and Ohrid lakes are shared by five ethnicities,

four national parks and three different countries: Albania, Greece and North Macedonia.

 

The mix of geology, climate and the varied habitats give rise to 170+ species of butterfly,

270+ species of birds and over 1,800 plant species, in an area the size of Greater London.

 

Stroll in ancient juniper forests that look down on the world's largest breeding colony

of Dalmatian pelicans, whilst learning how to follow the tracks of brown bear, grey wolf 

and wildcat through the ruins of Roman cities, Byzantine churches & Ottoman mosques.

PDF Documents

Day 1

Days 2-3

Days 4-5

Days 6-8

Day 9

Meet in Thessaloniki GR

Heraclea & Galichitsa NM

Albanian Prespa & Korce AL

Pelicans, Tsars & Shepherds GR

Bees & coastal wetlands

 

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Nature

Prespa might be tiny, but it blends lakes, wet meadows, mountain pastures and forests into one home, for an exceptional variety of plant and animal life.

History

Human tribes built by the lakes at least 6,000 years ago, before the arrival of empire - Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians & Ottomans.

People

Lake Great Prespa is today shared by three nations, with ancient races like Vlachs living across the borders. All of whom you'll meet along the way. 

  • Dalmatian and white pelicans

  • Wildflower meadows at 1,500m

  • Reed beds hide warblers, little bittern & squacco heron 

  • Bears, bats and beech marten 

  • Endless nightingale song

  • Neolithic village & archaeology museum

  • Heraclea and its mosaics

  • Tsar Samuel's 10th C basilica

  • 13-15th C hermitages

  • 15th C mosque 

  • UNESCO Thessaloniki (optional)

  • Pondic Greek beekeeper

  • Raki distiller

  • Resident nature writer, Julian Hoffman

  • Vlach Shepherd

  • Galicitsa park warden

  • Albanian teacher

Heraclea ampitheatre.jpg
Lunch in Basillica Ay Achillios.jpg

Day 1 - Cultural Capital of Thessaloniki

Fly into Thessaloniki (Salonica) and meet at hotel for dinner. Thessaloniki has 13 UNESCO sites and we recommend coming a day early or staying after. Ask us about extending your trip before or after.

Hotel in Thessaloniki, Greece for one night

Day 2 - Bees, Ancient Heraclea & into Prespa

Take the scenic route through northern Greece before a lunch of homemade pies and nightingale song in a beekeeper's garden. Just over the border is the ancient city of Heraclea, with its well-preserved mosaics. With time before dinner, we'll arrive at our hotel on the shores of Great Prespa.

Hotel in Oteshevo, North Macedonia for two nights

Day 3 - Mt. Galichitsa & the Bay of Bones

Start on the sub-alpine pastures of Galicica National Park, overlooking Prespa on one side and Lake Ohrid on the other. Walk through this butterfly hotspot, before descending to the lakeshore for lunch. Then to the prehistoric village on stilts, shown in the photo above in Tour Highlights.

Day 4 & 5 - Albanian Prespa and Korce

This part of Prespa is free of intensive agriculture - the tiny plots of land are havens for wildlife and are also home to 'dwarf' cows. We'll explore the lakeside allotments and small villages with a local teacher who grew up under the Hoxha regime.

 

Korce was a wealthy trading centre in Ottoman times, with a fine bazaar next to the 15th century Mirahori mosque. It's also home to two excellent museums for archaeology and religious art.

Hotel in Korce, Albania for two nights.

Day 6 to 8 - The Tsar's Island, Vlachs & Pelicans

Over the next three days in Greek Prespa, we'll delve into the history of Tsar Samuel, whose 10th-century citadel sits on Prespa's largest island and now looks over the world's largest Dalmatian pelican colony.

 

As we take to the lake by boat, the very same pelicans circle and fly past us until we stop by a long-abandoned 15th-century chapel and its centuries-old wall paintings. 

For one of the days, Julian Hoffman - a resident nature writer and talented birder and naturalist - guides us around his favourite places by the lakes, before heading for the hills and ambling around a traditional livestock village with a Vlach shepherd. 

Our hotel is chosen for its location just outside a village, surrounded by streams and meadows, and so allowing the opportunity on one or two of the afternoons for some free time, should one wish.

Hotel in Laimos, Greece for three nights. 

Day 9 - Lunch by the sea

After breakfast, we drive back to Thessaloniki via a small coastal wetland that holds a spectacle not seen in Prespa - flamingo and stone curlew. For any bird lovers amongst you, it often throws up some waders and seabirds not found in northern Europe. And it's a great spot for lunch by the sea.

We aim to arrive in Thessaloniki for 13:00 should anyone have late afternoon flights home. Many guests, however, choose to stay in Thessaloniki this evening, and we offer an extension package or can assist you with hotels and things to do and see. Its 13 UNESCO sites are well, well worth seeing.

 

SHORT ITINERARY

Below is an overview of the natural and cultural highlights.

For full information, you can click the three buttons below.

The PDFs can be printed and brought with you.

PHOTO TOUR

Below is a photographic run-through of the itinerary

Click on the main image to expand it

 

BALKAN TRACKS

CONTACT

FOLLOW US

info@balkantracks.com

0044 (0)7506 381757

 

 

Unit 8A, Red Lane Mill, Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, LS28 5UJ

UK

 

 

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