Macedonian National parks cover large mountainous area, protecting the untouched wilderness and rich biodiversity. Among others, they are home of the Big Five European mammals: the Bear, the Wolf, the Wild Boar, the Deer and the Lynx. Also, a significant population of endemic wild goat (chamois) – which is crucial for the existence of the endangered Lynx – lives here.
On this expedition you will practically become part of the Rangers team, working with them on surveying, feeding and conservation activities and accomplishing very important tasks for the sustainable existence of the wildlife. You will also learn how to behave in the wilderness, to trace wild animals and to capture their presence. You’ll follow “Leave-no-trace” practices, learning how to minimize human impact in nature. But the greatest attraction will be the real chance to see and observe Bear, Wolf, or if lucky, a Lynx in their natural habitat.
Day 1: Introduction and acclimatization – Skopje
Your adventure begins at Skopje Airport, with a warm welcome by our agency’s staff. After a brief introduction and orientation presentation at the hotel, our guide will take the group at the city center and the old town core, on a sightseeing tour and dinner.
Day 2: Wild goat & dear conservation survey – Mavrovo National Park:
Join the park Rangers and attend to the seasonal conservation operations at the Dear Reproduction Center. Continue on a 4×4 Jeep safari to the wild goat habitat area of the park. The wild goat is a main prey species of the Lynx, but also an important part of the feeding chain of the bear, wolf and even the golden eagle. Its sustainable existence is one of the most important challenges of the park management. We will take salt licks and mineral tablets for the goats, a vital supplement to their diet in this period of the year.
Day 3: Brown bear watch – Mavrovo NP and Pelister NP
Departure for bear viewing trek led by Mavrovo National Park Rangers. After up to an hour 4×4 driving to the location, we take a two-hour guided hike, stalking and tracking, into the most densely populated ‘bear areas’ in the park. We will look for evidence of the bears, tracks and scat and also to see the entrance to the winter hibernation caves. Continue to Pelister National Park. Welcome meeting with the Park Rangers at the village taverna, following a traditional Macedonian slow food lunch, with domestic organic food and drinks. Our bear watch expedition starts at 17.00h so that we can hike about 1,5 hour out to the viewing hide before sunset, keeping noise to a minimum and hopefully keeping downwind of our destination. Once in the hide we will maintain a silent vigil (with hot drinks and snacks), our best chance to see the Dinaric Pindus Brown Bear in the wild.
Day 4: Rare Molika Pine conservation survey – Pelister National Park
Drive to the Eastern slopes of Pelister NP, where is the biggest community of the rare prehistoric type of pine, Pinus Peuce (Molika). Join the park rangers on an easy, 3 to 4 hours hike, introducing the main attributes of mount Pelister: The so called “stone rivers” (remains from the glacier period), the alpine vegetation, and participate in seasonal conservation activities of the park’s rare fauna. Evening guided walking tour at Bitola, sightseeing the old town core. Once a significant center on the Ancient road Via Ignacia, Bitola later became the one of the major diplomatic and cultural centers in the Balkans…
Day 5: Farewell day – Skopje
The adventure ends with a drop on the airport. Our guide will assist for checking in and farewell the guests.