Not too far from the capital of Macedonia – Skopje, is located the Matka Canyon. It is a place that attracts locals and their guests, but is still unknown to random travelers. Is this a well-kept secret of Macedonia? Or is it going to get more and more popular in our full of information world?
We decided to visit it on a whim, after a wedding in Skopje. It was in the middle of the summer and in the middle of the day. The Canyon is only 30 minutes away from the capital. Now we are sharing our experience in the form of secrets, which we discovered, about this nature’s phenomenon. We present to you Matka Canyon.
The Canyon is easily accessible
It is easy if you go by car and drive by the instructions of your GPS to the village of Dolna Matka. Then you just have to follow the road signs and all the other cars. In Skopje you can arrange a taxi or you can join a bus excursion. Dolna Matka’s coordinates are 41°57’59.6″N 21°18’07.0″E. “Parking lot” is a misleading term for what they have there. If you leave your car further away from the paved pedestrian walkway you will have more time and opportunities to enjoy Treska River and the limestone cliffs over it.
Still, do not leave the walkways
Once you’ve reached the hotel and restaurant of Matka Canyon, you will have plenty of choices. You can keep walking on the walkway just under the cliffs, enjoying the 16-kilometer canyon from above. You could also take a boat or canoe and sail along the river. Either way you better not leave the established paths and water corridors. Otherwise you might get surprised by endemics of flora and fauna and you might not be prepared for that.
A boat trip is quite cheap magic
If you are with friends, as were we, you don’t need to bargain a lot to get a good price. With a covered motor boat you can enjoy the river’s turns and be protected from sun and rain. On the way the sights are different – exotic water plants, abandoned villas in the middle of nowhere, a monastery, tired tourists on the walkways.
The caves are a great escape from the heat
There isn’t a better place to hide from the sun (and rain) than a cave. Especially when you can park your boat just up front. Then you just have to climb a few stairs and enter the next karst formation. This cave has enough light and is easily accessible.
Macedonians know how to reward you for the sweat and the efforts you had made
With food! Located on the cliffs themselves and over the river, there is a great restaurant-winery. It will give you a breath-taking view and tasty local dishes. Try the fish and enjoy a glass of wine!
What is the conclusion? Matka Canyon is a well-known secret among the locals. On a summer Sunday many people from Skopje will come with their friends. But don’t let this fool you! The place is yet to be discovered by travelers. It provides a great alternative for those who want some peace and quiet after the craziness of Skopje and for those who want to rediscover nature!
For us, who always think in associations, sailing on Treska River in the Matka Canyon reminded us of a different place in distant China – sailing amongst the karst growths on Li River in Guangxi. One thing remains to be settled – is Matka the Macedonian Li, or is Li the Chinese Matka? Or is the Bolivian jungle really that far from them?
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