Hiking and kayaking in Macedonia

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This is my last blog from the amazing journey in Macedonia this summer. The book about our hikes, our stays in cozy villages, and our swims in crystal clear lakes is now hopefully available on all markets, Travel Light in Macedonia - Hiking, cozy villages & crystal clear lakes. The next blog will be about Borneo to where we take off tomorrow.

After hiking to Magaro peak in Galicica National Park we headed to Pestani by Lake Ohrid to swim and relax, but we did not stay more than a day before we took off again. Next stop was to stay in a small monastery in Mavrovo National Park, but they did not have room for us. It is great to travel light when you find beautiful waterfalls on your way, but the six dogs that decided to join us on the hike made it a bit tricky on the narrow path. On the other hand, we had good laughs when they tried to run away with our shoes the second we put them down. What do dogs do with shoes? If we had found a room in the beautiful village Rostusja, we would have stayed and checked out a few of the other waterfalls.

We managed to get a lift to Mavrovo for our last challenging hike. To prepare we had a massage in the spa since we had surprised ourselves by booking a hotel with a lot of facilities. Staying in a ski resort during summer is cheap! The hike in Mavrovo was different in many ways. Parts were extremely steep, but it was open and sunny. The view in all directions from the 1980 meter top was stunning — a place to return to.


Kayaking in Matka Canyon had been on our bucket list, and it was perfect since we did it on a Monday morning, all alone in the dam. The Vrelo Cave was also better than expected, but it still does not put Matka on top of the list of places to return to even though we had a quite good hike there too. On the other hand, it was fantastic compared to Pristina in Kosovo where we headed next. We will not return there without male company, and we were grateful to return to Skopje for a short stay before returning home to Sweden.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Packing tips for your next journey

Some keys when we travel are - not carry heavy luggage, never having to say no to an adventure, and always be able to dress well when we visit fine restaurants.
Normally we plan our travels a few months, or at least weeks, before departure to get reasonably priced tickets since we travel during school holidays. But also to have time to learn about our destination. We read, talk about places we would like to visit, ask friends, and enjoy the feeling of excitement of having a journey to look forward to. When we left for Bosnia, Croatia, and Venice this summer, we had not even decided a destination 3 days before departure. You can read more about it in the book, but the summary is that we managed to find tickets to reasonable prices but had to be a bit flexible when it came to the destination. To put together a well planned and light backpack was extra challenging when the only thing we knew was that we would land in Sarajevo, visit Mostar and return home from Venice. 

When we make our packing list, we start with the following headings:
1.    Travel – what we need on planes, buses, and trains
2.    Walks – thin pants, nylon stockings, and water shoes
3.    Evening - nice clothes, shoes, sarong, flashlight
4.    Day - everything we need for walking, activities, sunbathing, and swimming
5.    Sleep – silk sheets and clothes to sleep in (which we also use for other purposes)
6.    Toilet - everything for the body
7.    Medicines - plus tablets for diarrhea and motion sickness
8.    Other - electronics, safety, games, coziness (tea lights, lighter, string lights), glasses, food

Our backpacks weigh 7-8 kilos each, and this is our packing list. In the book, you will find explanations why we pack what we do and how we manage to have a relaxed journey without emergency shopping and never having to say no to activities no matter if it’s a zip-lining or a nice show. 


Packing list for 2-5 weeks in a warm climate:
a.    4-5 bottoms - long thin pants, skirt, shorts, dress plus shorts under f. below.
b.    8 tops - thin shirt, wind jacket, 2 Tank Tops, 4 thin t-shirts, one of which you can use for swimming and one to sleep in.
c.    Hat, cap, or bandana.
d.    3 pairs of shoes – sandals, or lightweight sneakers, water shoes that you can use for walking, flip-flops or slip-in sandals.
e.    8-10 thin panties, 2 bras (one soft bra), nylon socks, nylon tights, or thin tights.
f.    2 swimsuits or bikinis, surf shorts or cycling shorts for swimming, snorkel and mask or goggles, sunglasses, bathing cap.
g.    2 sarongs, one to lay on and one to use as a blanket, sundress or outerwear.
h.    Phone, tablet, iPod, headset, 2 chargers, adapter, power bank, waterproof case.
i.    Defense spray, flashlight and a small headlamp, lighter, 4 tea lights, string lights. 
j.    Wet wipes, 7.5 cl hand disinfection, 2-3 small packs of paper handkerchiefs, soap sheets, detergent.
k.    Deck of cards, crossword magazine or from weekly magazines, Yatzy, 2 pencils or pens, small notebook, manual hand fan, small compass with a thermometer, spork (spoon, fork, and knife in one), safety pins.
l.    Shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, toothbrush, toothpaste, face cream, body lotion, sunscreen, aloe vera, makeup remover, mascara, cerate or lip gloss, tweezers, nail cutter, nail-file, razor, small hairbrush, silk towel, tampons.
m.    Personal medicines, diarrhea tablets, bracelet or pills against motion sickness, painkillers, surgical tape, Compeed. 
n.    Silk sheets, eye mask, mosquito net.
4-5 storage bags of different sizes, 2 vacuum bags