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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

Horseback riding in Macedonia's highlands

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Although Macedonia is quite a small country, it has a lot of wilderness to offer. One of it is the Mavrovo National Park. In the middle of the great expanse is the Sherpa Mountain Ranch. Vasko has built a ranch here and is breeding a robust, enduring Macedonian horse, perfectly adapted for the highlands and the harsh conditions. With him we want to do a two-day tour through the Mavrovo National Park. As it has been pouring rain for a few days, we had to postpone our tour a bit. Fortunately, the Macedonians are very flexible and spontaneous. And in order not to have to bridge the rainy days in our van, we stay in a nearby agriturismo - Hotel Tutto in Janche.

tutto janche mavrovo tefik
Restaurant Tutto in Janche

What can I say? An absolute stroke of luck! We have always had delicious meals in Macedonia, but what is served here surpasses everything. Tefik, the hotel manager who calls himself Tutto, lived in Italy for a long time and worked as a cook. For several years he has been running the hotel and restaurant in his home village, where he processes almost exclusively local and sustainably grown food. We are completely thrilled and load our van with all kinds of souvenirs. In retrospect, I have to reveal that they never arrived in Germany - we all plastered them off in our remaining 3 weeks on the trip 😊

mavrovo horse riding sherpa mountain
Endless expanse in Mavrovo Nationalpark

The rainy period is over and we start our horseback riding tour. Vasko welcomes us warmly with a raki and introduces us to his animals. In addition to horses, he also has goats and sheep. And we can even milk a goat - or at least try to. Not that easy at all 😊

We are lucky that there are only the two of us - an exclusive tour so to say 😊 Micha rides Florian, I get Fiden assigned. A perfect match! Micha’s horse is a little lazy and slow. We ride through the Macedonian prairie with Vasko and it feels amazing. The horses are absolutely sure-footed and trustworthy.

After a day out, we set up our camp. Vasko now has support from two other guys. We have our own tent to sleep in, as well as a huge supply tent with an oven. And we are happy to have it, because it gets really cold there at that time of the year. The food is once again the finest. We are served all kinds of Macedonian specialties. From our camp we even have a view of Mount Korab, which we climbed a few days before.

Meadow with a view of Mount Korab 2.754 m

The night is not relaxing, however. There are countless shepherd dogs around who are doing their job really well. They bark all the time. Why don't they get hoarse at some point? Noway! Earplugs don't help either.

After a fantastic breakfast, we are again on the horseback. We ride across the prairie with Vasko and stop at a shepherd's hut where we have warm coffee served. The conversation, as always, works great with hands, feet and a smile. And then it's time to head back to the ranch. We're hurrying up a bit because it's raining again. Micha is having a hard time with his lame horse :-) We arrive in the early afternoon and get the horses ready for the stable. Then again some food is served and we have a farewell drink with Vasko and his colleagues. We have great impressions of this warm country and definitely will be back. Its supposed that there are excellent freeride options in Mavrovo National Park in winter :-)

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