From the beautiful sunshine upon my arrival into Macedonia the previous day, the weather now had completely changed into a cold, windy, wet condition. Seems as though I had brought it here with me from Pristina! Albeit, as an Englishman, the rain will never put me off doing anything, probably due to the fact of growing up in a grey and gloomy melancholic atmosphere.
I was off to my tour and the walk was a nice peaceful one and I made my way up to Skopje Fortress, also known as ‘Fortress Kale’, to reach the meeting point for my minibus tour to ‘Matka Canyon’ as well as the ‘Millenium Cross’.
The tour that I booked was via TripAdvisor and is named the ‘Half-Day Tour from Skopje‘ and this cost me as little as £22. I highly recommend this tour!
The rain began to pour down even harder and we arrived at the first phase of ‘Matka Canyon’. The weather though was creating a really awesome atmosphere. As you walk along the canyon hugging pathway that snakes its way round, you will approach a huge dam! Okay yea, not on the same scale as say the ‘Hoover Dam’ but most certainly a beautiful one (see pic above).
Once the dam had been passed, a lovely ancient-looking harbour began to appear along with its very own church (see pic above).
Then looking out across the water that lay between the high walls of the canyon, was a scene that looked like something straight from some kind of fantasy movie! The water so green and the canyon rock so dark and eerie, it looked stunning.
We climbed into what looked like a large motorised canoe with a roof, and then with the guide, sped off further into the canyon on the water at a reasonable speed. I enjoyed how low this boat felt in the water, and from looking at the edges of the canyon, the water was certainly at a high level.
Eventually we approached a mooring point, and the guide pulled up and we disembarked onto the canyon and headed up the natural staircase until arriving at a huge generator and a cave entry! Once the generator was fired up, the guide unlocked the steel gate that was keeping the entrance to the cave locked up and we entered…
As I headed down into the cave, all of a sudden I was exposed to this huge, wonderful and colourful cavern! Peering over some of the rock and seeing further into the cave, you could see several bodies of water at the lowest level, reflecting the light back up at us. It really did look enchanting!
Overall I highly recommend a visit to Matka Canyon and the caves if you make a trip to Skopje. True, Lake Ohrid is the more popular destination, but with its close-proximity to the city of Skopje, if time is an issue, this has to be the choice!
After a magical visit to the Matka Canyon, it was on to the next part of this tour before heading back into Skopje, and we were off up to the dizzying heights of Mount Vodno, to view up close, the ‘Millenium Cross’. This huge 66-metre cross was constructed to serve as a memorial to Christianity’s 2000 year existence.
To get to the feet of the ‘Millennium Cross’, a cable car is needed, which travels all the way up to ‘Krstovar Peak’, the highest point of ‘Mount Vodno’ at an altitude of over 1,000m! The journey took just short of 10 minutes, and then through the heavy mist, the snow began to fall!
The weather up at the top of the mountain was like we had entered a completely different country on that cable car journey! In just my two days in Skopje so far, I had seen beautiful sunshine, heavy rain and now snow!
So after a visit into deepest winter, the journey back to Skopje would commence and to see how life at night would be, in Macedonia’s capital…