I think our best day trip during our month in Ohrid was a visit to Galicica National park (GNP). This park is one of four national parks in North Macedonia. It is large, covering 24 152 hectares. The main features of the park are the Galicica mountains, with Lake Ohrid on the one side and Lake Prespa on the other. Water from Lake Prespa (created when the tectonic plates shifted) flows into Lake Ohrid.
We entered the park just passed the beautiful town of Trpejca. The roads were very windy with lots of hair pin bends but the road surface was fine. There were just several rock falls, with some rock on the road. Often the width of the road was only about 5m. The views onto Trpejca and lake Ohrid were utterly stunning.
Lake Ohrid is believed to be the oldest continuously existing lake in Europe, with an age of three to five million years old. It is also one of the deepest lakes on the continent with a maximum depth of 288 metres. It is fed from underground springs from the East which represent about half of the inflow. 25% of the lake’s waters come from precipitation and rivers. The remaining part flows in from Lake Prespa, 10 kilometres to the South-East. Prespa passes its water to Ohrid through mountain springs as there is a 150-metre elevation difference. The springs are near Ohrid town and near St Naum. Lake Ohrid has an area of 347 square kilometres.
Suddenly the road had lots of snow which was not unexpected as we could see snow on nearby mountains from the town of Ohrid, but it was more than we thought. We were uncertain whether it was safe to proceed as our hire car did not have snow tyres. But there was a clear path on the road from multiple cars passing. We waited until we saw a car coming in the opposite direction and stopped them and asked them their opinion. They thought we would be fine. It was quite nerve wrecking but utterly beautiful. Adu had to be careful driving to stay in the tyre path!
After a while we could not see Lake Prespa yet, but could no longer see Lake Ohrid. There is a point that one can hike to, where one can see both lakes but we could obviously not do this in the snow. We stopped at a viewpoint quite a bit further on and ate some sandwiches. A person raced towards us in their car with loud music blasting and veered off to the left. We watched in disbelief as he went up a bit of the slope and then stopped and got out ski’s and proceeded to then do lots of activity getting his ski’s ready. Maybe he was going cross country skiing?
After a while Lake Prespa came into view. It seemed to have a deeper blue colour, and was so pretty also with the reflection of snowy mountains showing in the lake.
Lake Prespa is one of the oldest tectonic lakes in Europe and is the highest tectonic lake on the Balkan peninsula. The region is famous for having rocks from the oldest Paleozoic form to sediments belonging to the Neogene era.
The road then changed to a stunning tar road and we travelled on this with the lake on our left. Eventually we left the park and continued our drive for about 45 minutes back to Ohrid. The area surrounding lake Prespa is well known as an apple growing area.
It is such a worthwhile day trip and must offer very different views in the different seasons. The GNP is also known for lots of hiking possibilities.