Secrets of Prespa and Ohrid
3 countries, 3 lakes, 1000's of species
4 - 7
£1,695 (£100 sgl.sp.)
06-14 June 2020
20-28 June 2020
tbc June 2021
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.
Meet in Thessaloniki GR
Heraclea & Galichitsa NM
Albanian Prespa & Korce AL
Pelicans, Tsars & Shepherds GR
Bees & coastal wetlands
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.
Human tribes built by the lakes at least 6,000 years ago, before the arrival of empire - Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians & Ottomans.
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
Resident nature writer, Julian Hoffman
Galicitsa park warden
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.