Less than 100 km from Skopje one can find a natural oasis virtually untouched by man. Spreading over an area of about 300 square miles, the Mavrovo National Park offers the visitor sublime scenery of great environmental value - deep canyons, snowy peaks and blue lakes combine with dense forests that abound with diverse wildlife.
The park is situated in the westernmost part of Macedonia, between the Korab, Shar, and Bistra mountain ranges. Mavrovo is one of the leading tourist areas in the country along with Ohrid, Prespa, Dojran, Popova Shapka (Shar Planina), Pelister, and Krushevo.
|Winter in Stogovo|
Perhaps one of the features that make the Mavrovo National Park so attractive to visitors is its vivid topography. The relief of the park contains three Alpine mountain systems: the Shar, Korab and Bistra mountains. They are exceptionally high, the Shar and Korab, reaching heights of more than 9000 feet (the Golem Korab peak is the highest in Macedonia with its 9100 feet). These tremendous mountains are distinguished by chains of snowy, jagged peaks and broad grassy plateaus below them.
The ecology of the national park is particularly interesting. Namely, dense forest vegetation covers mountain slopes in the park, while Alpine pastures grow in the higher areas. The various climatic influences, as well as the large differences in altitude are the main contributing factors for the diversity of flora and fauna. The fact that this region is a kind of "geographical crossroads" where major changes of climate have occurred through history is a direct reason for the existence of an enormous number of relict and endemic species.
The flooded church on |
the shore of Mavrovo Lake
As a result of its long geological history, the park abounds with relicts from the tertiary and glacial epochs (even two plant species from the early tropical vegetation). The most interesting tertiary relicts are the Macedonian pine and the Whitebark pine, rare endemic conifers of the Central Balkans. This group includes the endemic Greek maple and the yew (extremely uncommon in the Mediterranean). One of the few natural habitats of the common chestnuts (an endemic Balkan tertiary relict) exists on the southern slopes of Mt. Bistra. A large area of the park is overgrown with astonishingly old and beautiful forests of the Macedonian fir (a riddling hybrid fir species) which is to be found only in these areas of the Balkans and is also a remnant of the late Tertiary age.