Whilst staying for three nights in North Macedonia’s capital, “Skopje”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/203391-review-sightseeing-in-skopje-part-1-the-old-town, we took a trip out to the “Matka Canyon”:http://www.canyonmatka.mk/ Matka Canyon, 30 minutes away. Having parked, we went in search of the boats that offer trips to the Vrelo Cave. It was a good 20-minute trek along a relatively level single-track road although there was a steeper section at the end. Here we found a much nearer but very small car park, and our driver said if you weren’t lucky enough to find a space, it meant turning around in a very confined area. Along the route, vendors sold cold drinks, fresh fruit and BBQ corn on the cob. It was then another 10-minute walk along a narrow path hugging the cliff on one side and with the dam and man-made lake on the other. On route, a huge information board described the length of time it took various items of rubbish like plastic bottles and cans, to decay. It was a good message and we found the place much cleaner than the “Sharr Mountains National Park”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review?id=203265 outside “Prizren”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/203237-review-sightseeing-in-prizren.
As the boats only set off when full (14 people including the skipper), we waited 10 minutes for others to join us. The flow of boats is also managed well to avoid overcrowding. Our visit was on a weekday in late September, but it didn’t require much imagination to see how busy it would be during a summer weekend. Kayaks were for hire and walks available: we could see a walkway continuing along the lake edge.
We set off for what the book described as a 30-minute trip, which was more like 15-minutes. The steep sides of the canyon were very similar to “Lake Koman”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/200590-review-the-lake-komani-ferry in “Albania”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/blog/destination-features-europe-albania/albania, which we’d visited earlier in the year. We both thought that the boat would take us through the Vrelo cave, so were unprepared when on arrival at the entrance, it became clear we had to disembark. Firstly, we tackled a steep climb of slopes and steps to the mouth. A generator switch was flicked, the cave illuminated and having entered, it was a further short walk and climb down into the main viewing area. The sight of the stalagmites and stalactites lit up in various colours was amazing but the 25 minutes we were given, allowed us plenty of time.
All back on board, we set off again with the skipper giving us information about the dimensions of the cave and lake.
Off the boat, our visit was rounded off with a brief stop at the tiny church of St Andreja, built in the 14th century, where in the absence of electricity, we were handed torches to view the frescoes.