Hitchhiking Macedonia


In the Balkans, I’ve had some incredible encounters with many incredible and friendly drivers. But the hours long journey across western Macedonia will forever remain one of my favorite journeys in my heart. I started off taking a bus to the end of Skopje with an OHRID sign right at the start of the highway. At almost the 2 hour mark, I found myself with a friendly Macedonian guy who also picked up two more Macedonian guys other than me. Although he was not headed south to Ohrid, he did bring me west to the off ramp outside of the city of Tetovo.

Hitchhiking Macedonia

Hitchhiking Macedonia

Hitchhiking Macedonia

There on the side of the road, I waited another 30 minutes before a nice older Albanian man picked me up en route to Tirana. He asked where I was going, I decided to tell him Mavrovo, a national park on the western most part of the country along Albania. Not sure if he was taking that route or not, but he did decide to take me through dropping me off at the lake where a beautiful orthodox church sits above the lake. After about 20 minutes of photos, I walked to a local grocery store to buy fruit and a day snack to munch on for the rest of the journey.

Hitchhiking Macedonia

Hitchhiking Macedonia

Hitchhiking Macedonia

In front of me at the counter was a lovely Dutch couple who I ended up hitching a ride with outside of the store by asking them if they were going to Ohrid. While they accepted me as a new passenger, they did mentioned that they were hunting for a hiking trail up to a waterfalls. Like this was such a problem. Of course I wanted in on the excursion. We spent an hour hunting for this village and when we did find the village, we asked dozens of people where the trailhead was. This led us to an incredible older Albanian woman who brough us not only to the trailhead, but ALL the way to the waterfalls. This woman was celebrating Ramadan, which meant she was fasting. SAY WHAT?! Incredible.

Hitchhiking Macedonia Mavrovo

Hitchhiking Macedonia Mavrovo

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The falls were gorgeous as was the rest of the 40 minute hike. On the way back we were randomly greeted by some of the people from the village who spoke with us with so much warmth. They lost it when they found out an American was in their small village. The best part and also the sad one, was the goodbyes. a 10 minute conversation felt like days long and saying goodbye was incredibly emotional as we waved goodbye every couple of footsteps until waving out the backwindow of the couples rental car. It’s little moments like these that remain in your memory forever.

Hitchhiking Macedonia Mavrovo waterfalls

Hitchhiking Macedonia Mavrovo waterfalls

Duf Falls in Mavrovo Nat’l Park

Hitchhiking Macedonia Mavrovo

The rest of the journey was many stops along the highway in and outside of the park. It was filled with many lakes within the valley and beautiful hillside towns with tiny mosques dotting them. It was near sunset where we finally reach Ohrid town and we hugged and said our goodbyes, as if we had known each other for days. After getting settled in my Airbnb, I managed to catch the sunset over the infamous St John Church on Ohrid. At the end of the day, I realized that If I had succumbed to taking the easy route avoiding the sun and caught a bus, I not only would have missed out on this incredible journey, but I probably would have had zero interaction with anyone. Oh, and I really hate buses. Cheers to hitchhiking, Macedonia, and the incredible people whom I made amazing connections with. :)

Hitchhiking Macedonia Mavrovo

Hitchhiking Macedonia Mavrovo

Hitchhiking Macedonia Sunset Ohrid

Sunset over Ohrid & St John Church


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