Time  9 hours 22 minutes

Coordinates 1973

Uploaded August 13, 2019

Recorded July 2019

4,988 ft
2,897 ft
13.86 mi

Viewed 196 times, downloaded 11 times

near Stenje, Општина Ресен (Македонија)

See https://mymacedoniablog.wordpress.com/ for more info about sightseeing and hiking in Macedonia

The longest version of this hike is about 24 km with 1000 m ascent, but it can be chopped up into smaller parts.

Early in the morning I left from Ohrid to Stenje at Lake Prespa and took the road via Resen. Not only is this faster than taking the (more scenic) road from Trpejca through Galicica National Park, you also avoid the toll for Galicica National Park. I parked the car at the beginning of the trail along the road to Stenje. There is not much parking space directly along the road, but if you drive a few meters up the trail there is more space to park.

You can walk all the way to Peak Magaro from this spot, 12.5 km in one direction according to the signpost, which sounds about right.

It had stormed the night before and the trail was quite wet and muddy. Broken trees were blocking the path here and there as well, along the whole trail.

There is a spring after 2 km and after less than 3 km you enter the small village Leskoec.

I had read about the existence of a cave near Leskoec, the Leskovska cave and had found coordinates in a scientific paper about bats (Contribution to spring chiroptera fauna of lake Great Prespa and its vicinity in the Republic of Macedonia by Primoz Presetnik in 2015). Another scientific paper (Faunistic diversity of spiders (Araneae) in Galichitsa mountain (FYR Macedonia) by Christo Deltshev and Maria Naumova published in 2013) showed a picture of the cave. I asked some locals in Leskoec and tried to find the cave using their directions. The first part was quite overgrown but on the other site of the dried up stream it became easier. It’s just 200-300 m with some 40 m climbing to reach the cave from the square in Leskoec.

The cave was quite shallow, with a chimney going up at the end.

It is still a bit unclear to me if this was the right cave. It unmistakably is similar to the one in the picture in the paper of Christo Deltshev, but it does not fit the description I have seen elsewhere.

In “Draft Amendments to the Management Plan for National Park Galichica for the Period 2011 – 2020” (https://www.scribd.com/doc/283103358/Draft-Amendments-to-the-Management-Plan-for-National-Park-Galichica-for-the-Period-2011-2020#) the following is written:

“The cave is located in the immediate vicinity of the village of Leskoec, i.e. below peak Strnina (1,107 m). The entrance to the cave is at the bottom of a rocky slope, at an altitude of 1,070 m. The entrance has extremely small dimensions (0.6 x 1m), making it very difficult to notice. The entire length of the cave at the village of Leskoec is 43 m, while both the main tunnel and the secondary cave tunnels, and reach a length of 48 m. The three cave tunnels cover a total surface of 69 m2, i.e. the total surface of the interior reaches up to 96.25 m2. The cave at the village of Leskoec represents a typical example of a cave where an underground water flow was present but no longer exists, i.e. it is completely dry and belongs to the dry, fossil cave type. Interesting cave deposits have formed at certain parts of the cave. The first cave deposits, represented by stalagmites are present along the eastern part of the cave tunnel wall. The cave deposits in the central part of the cave are especially interesting. Smaller cave pillars have also been formed here. The first two cave halls are almost have no cave deposits, but the last hall, however, especially its ceiling, is covered with 0.5 m long stalactites.”

According to a booklet published by the Municipality of Ohrid (www.ohrid.gov.mk) basically uses the same text and states that the cave is under the peak “Strnina (1107 m)” which I cannot find anywhere.

Since the above description does not fit the shallow cave that I have found, there may be another cave in the vicinity worth exploring. Please drop me a note if you have found it!

Back on the main road through Leskoec I had to make a small circle to avoid some dogs that seemed to be very attached to their territory. I was following a GPS track that I had downloaded (https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/stenje-galichitsa-stenje-10781039), which would follow the asphalt road through Galicica National Park for the next 7 km. Since this seemed not very appealing, I took a 4x4 dirt road almost as soon as I reached the asphalt road. This dirt road was not on the digital map from OpenStreetMap (2019) but it seemed to go in parallel with the asphalt road and I hoped it would take me to the Lipova Livada pass where I could pick up the rest of the trail.

The dirtroad was an attractive trail and I kept following it. Here I had my first encounter with some wild pigs in Macedonia! The small ones ran away quickly before I could take a good picture, but I could hear the parent making unhappy grunting noises in the vicinity.

Unfortunately, the dirt road took me back to Leskoec after 5 km (where I was chased by the same territorial dogs as before). Not willing to stop this hike already, I noticed a signpost in Leskoec pointing to the Lipova Livada pass, my original destination. Aware of the fact that this would involve a rough 500 m of ascent I started to follow the trail, which was not on the digital OpenStreetMap but remarkably well marked with red/white paint.

I could not have made a better decision. The path was through a cool, dark and old forest, offering a completely different scenery than the beginning of the hike. A scenery I had not yet experienced before in Galicica National Park.

You would almost forget the rest of the world here, if it wasn’t for the occasional tire that must have rolled here all the way from the Lipova Livada pass above you.

When you arrive at the end of the forest trail, there is this signpost between lots of high nettles. You have to make a sharp left turn at this point and follow the trail that soon will become clearer.

After about 1 km, make sure you take the trail to the left at a small clearing from which you can see the Antenna Station at the Lako Signoj peak. This spot is indicated with a waypoint (After I had missed this turn to the left, I decided to go ahead and check out where the trail was leading to because it was not on OpenStreetMap. The trail connected with a trail which actually is on OpenStreetMap and that leads to the Gorice-Stenje border crossing with Albania. I walked back because that was not the right direction. This part is deleted from the GPS track).

Once on the right track again, it was easy although the trail is getting pretty overgrown at some places. Never too much to pass though.

When I got back to the parked car, an hour driving back to Ohrid was waiting for me!

Since this long 24 km hike with 1000 m ascent may not be for everybody, you could try the following versions:

17 km with 715 m ascent, starting along the road near Stenje and going to the Lipova Livada pass. This option skips the part north of Leskoec.

13 km with 640 m ascent, starting in Leskoec. This options also skips the part north of leskoec. Note the possibility to add peak Magaro! This would add about 9 km and 700 m to the hike.

7 km with 340 m ascent when you only walk north of Leskoec after visiting the Leskova cave.

And as last the option with 13 km with 510 m ascent, the same route as above (north of Leskoec) but starting along the road near Stenje. This would be my least favourite option since you would walk the part from Stenje-Leskoec (3 km) twice.

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Leskovska cave




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