Lazaropole and the monastery St. Jovan Bigorski

Today we started our day with a hike from our Bradt guide book. It starts at the end of the village Oktisi where a sheep herd track starts climbing a green hill. We soon realized we had no idea how far we were walking and couldn’t identify small side tracks on the map in our book.

A steep climb and nothing but forest around us for the first two hours. Where are those promised views?

We climbed up the hill without any visible path hoping to find a wide leafy avenue as it was described in the book. We did found a wide track but still had no confirmation this was really the our path we should take. Our confusion only got bigger when we reached a cross road of about five dirt tracks.

About 50 meter in front of us, a group of men suddenly came from a small path on our track. Two of them were carying a rifle. Big surprise! Luckily they didn’t show to much attention to us. But we did need some help so we approached them and asked for some help with our navigation.

We told them we had to go to Crni Kamen as it was written on our map. “Crni Kamen? That’s 5 hours on foot from here!” They responded. We didn’t understand as the total length of the hike should only be a few hours. Finally they said our map is correct, but the name of the place we need is Yankov Kamen. Just 20 minutes away from our current position.

Before we left, they gave each of us a bottle of water and a pack of melted chocolates. Also, with an axe, they prepared a solid stick to be able to protect us from wild boars. A bit later we arrived at the picnic area of Yankov Kamen.

The artificial small lake at the picnic place Yankov Kamen near vevcani in Macedonia.
The artificial small lake at the picnic place Yankov Kamen.

From here the village of Vevcani, another way point of this hike, was signposted. The path turned into an asphalted road and kept on descending but we were still waiting for any view on the surroundings as for now, the vegetation around us had been blocking every view.

Then we noticed a larged message board on the right side of the road with information in English. “Starca lookout hut”. We followed the instructions and took a small narrow path down to the right. We reached a covered bench with great views on the village and even on Lake Ohrid.

View on Vevčani from the 'Starca' lookout hut near the picnic place Yankov Kamen (Yanko's Stone) ohrid lake in background in Macedonia.
View on Vevčani from the ‘Starca’ lookout hut near the picnic place Yankov Kamen (Yanko’s Stone)

Once in Vevčani, we went straight to our favorite restaurant for a well deserved lunch with dessert!

A well deserved dessert back in Vevčani.

So let’s move on towards Mavrovo National park!

A view along the road north to Mavrovo national park. in Macedonia.
A view along the road on the shore of Debar Lake north to Mavrovo national park.

We decided to go see Lazarapole, one of the heighest villages of Macedonia. Maybe we would try some horseriding there as well.

A view when climbing with our car to Lazaropole.
Arriving in Lazaropole. This village is one of the heighest villages of Macedonia.
Arriving in Lazaropole. This village is one of the heighest villages of Macedonia.
Another view on houses at the other side of the village of Lazaropole.

We had dinner in the Kalin hotel where we also informed about the horseriding. I turned out there was no horse riding available in Lazaropole these days. Unless we had made a reservation. However, he made a reservation for us the next day near the village of Galichnik.

After dinner, we left Lazaropole and started driving in the direction of Galichnik. On the road we would still visit St. Jovan Bigorski monastery. According to our Bradt guide book, it is possible to spend the night inside the monastery. Maybe we should try that?

View on the village Jance from the main road. Mavrovo national park in Macedonia.
View on the village Jance from the main road.

We arrived just on time at the monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski before the gates would close and the monks would start their evening prayer.  After Lada was properly dressed, a monk showed us our room. How does a room look like in this monastery? It has two single beds. One on both sides of the room. It has a private bathroom with a shower and a sink. It does not have any windows.

Monastery St. Jovan Bigorski
Inside Monastery St. Jovan Bigorski. We arrived just in time to ask for accomodation for the night. We got a room in the building on the left side of this photo. No, not in the tower!

It was about 60 euro for both of us. A little expensive if you compare it with our previous accomodations but you do get to sleep in a famous monastery!