It was supposed to have been just a 30 minute drive but it ended up taking more than double that because of bad traffic. Since it’s so close to the city, it's one of the favorite weekend destinations for Skopje citizens. The area is famous for its many mountain hikes that put Lake Matka on the to-do list of the more active visitors. The area is also home to several monasteries that cling to the mountainsides, each one with its own astonishing history.
As we began walking up the canyon, it felt like we had been transported back through Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon with its rugged mountains and river running through it.
The water was the clearest emerald green imaginable.
What lovely wedding photos these must have been but how uncomfortable too, traipsing on the narrow path in a full length ball gown.
I loved the reflection of the cliff and the dam in the lake.
We shortly came to St. Andrew Orthodox Church that I went into alone so Steven could rest up outside. I think he was also becoming ‘iconed out’ and needed a breather from them for a bit which I certainly understood.
A number of the tourists on the bus from Skopje rented kayaks and canoes and saw the amazing canyon that way. If Steven had felt better and we had started earlier in the day, we might also have considered doing that too but not in the mid afternoon.
Absolutely vertical cliff face in this spot.
We saw some trees just beginning to change from a rich dark green to golden yellow. We could only imagine how even more beautiful the colors would look a little later in the fall with all the trees an absolute riot of color.
The entrance to the cave and the map showing its lakes.
The marvels of nature: The colors and shapes were magnificent.
One of the underwater lakes in the cave:
Steven looked so good even though he felt so lousy.
Recently Italian divers have plumbed the depths of the lake accessible through the cave here.
The boat returning to the dock on the opposite side:
Our goal was to hike to St. Nicholas Monastery somewhere up the mountain. But we sure didn't know how far it was or the difficulty of the climb when we began the hike. In retrospect, that sounded pretty stupid.
We hiked up to St. Nicholas Monastery which turned out be one of the steepest hikes we’ve been on in many years. Beechwoods, the small pink flowers at the lower elevations, were just exquisite.
View from the open door of the WC: Who would want a door when there was this stupendous view anyway?
The temperature dropped a lot on our hike down and we were both relieved we had thought to bring our sweater/fleece as we needed them then.
Hitting the gong calling for our boat ride back across the lake!
What great service as we only had to wait a minute or two before our ‘boat taxi’ or should that be ‘taxi boat’ arrived?!