Western Balkan is gradually opening up before the world audience. Herein one particular place stands out of crowd and that is the Jasen Nature Reserve Macedonia. Its exquisitly beautiful natural reserve was primarily kept hidden by earstwhile Communist government of Yugoslavia. Due to its hitherto hidden status, central mountainous region of Macedonia is shrouded in rumours and legends. Creation of snaking lake Kozjak has enhanced its chances to grow as a major eco-tourism destination in coming days.
A brief introduction
Jasen Nature Reserve is spread on 300 square kilometers area, located in the Central mountainous region of Macedonia. Jasen is the home of many rare species like Eurasian Lynx, Balkan Chamois etc it’s most probably the best kept secrets of the region. In fact it falls within in the zone of special natural reserves.
How to reach?
Just 15 kilometers away from the capital city of Skopje, Jasen Nature Reserve can be reached by car. There are travel operators who prepare tours and can be found in Skopje.
Where to stay?
There are 3 hotels located deep into wild vegetations and hunting grounds. One of them is located in Selishta near Tazhevo village. Second one is located in Kula and the last one is situated in Ivanje. All 3 have best luxurious amenities billiard halls, VIP suites etc.
A unique geographical history
Spread across a 24,000 hectares of area hidden behind a dense forest, Jasen includes many deep caves, underground rivers, lakes etc. Its highest point is Mt. Karadzica located at 2500mt and lowest is canyon lake Matka which is so deep that still it has not be charted. Because of this Matka falls in the list of New Natural Wonders of world.
Lake Matka is very popular with weekenders as it is located near Skopje. There are popular hiking trails too. The surrounding area has ‘frescoed Byzantine woodland churches’. These 15 monastries and orthodox churches date between 13th to 15th centuries.
Cave exploring experts or speleologists have discovered a deep canyon in Macedonia that is buried under permanent ice reserve of more than 500 mts of depth (still now this one is the deepest).
Some historical treasures
You will wonder to know that few nature reserves have such a variety of historical treasures hidden beneath its lush greenery as Jasen. More than 30 such important sites are there that date back from stone age to Hellenistic and Roman era to medieval times. One of the most amazing discoveries of prehistoric era, an anatomically precise sculpture called ‘Adam of Govrlevo’ was found here.
Glimpses from recent past
Like its old past, Jasen’s recent years are no less interesting. During Yugoslavia’s communist past it was believed that there were secret underground tunnels and military bunkers beneath Jasen, made on the instructions of Marshal Tito.
Wildlife lovers will fall in love with Jasen as soon as they come here. Filled with a wide range of flora and fauna, Jasen is shrouded with black Pine and Berch forests. Love to catch fishes, there are many options available. Mountain rivers are reserves of fresh water Crabs and Trouts. In addition there are more than 160 different bird species along with rare species of Peregrine Falcons and Golden Eagles.
You will wonder about the variety of mammal species that is found here. 47 mammal species that counts to 1/3rd of the total number of mammals found in Europe call Jasen Nature Reserve its home. This include brown bears, wild boar, wolves, hares, deer and a special subspecies of European Sousilk. In addition Eurasian Lynx is also found here.
Sport hunting expeditions
Sport hunting expeditions that are controlled in a restricted manner actually help in conservation of flora and fauna. Jasen is an authentic and rich ground for sport hunting. These are arranged for groups which pay high premium to bag this chance like that of Deers, Wild Sheeps, Wild Boars and the rare Balkan Chamois.
The authority has decided to enhance hunting services but with minimum events of shooting. If you want to come for hunting here, you need to come via a hunting tour operator which follows the policies set out by the Reserve authority and has signed up agreement between them. Hunting packages include hunting guides which are to be strictly followed.
Itinerary include a visit to other historically important sites in Macedonia; welcome sessions at airport; staying permits in Jasen; documents for carrying in and carrying out of hunting ammunitions and weapons in Jasen; total transportation affair; arrangement of hunting certificates and trophies.
Rate of success in hunting is 100% in Jasen.
Balkan Lynx, Bears and Eagle Vultures are strictly conserved species and they can’t be hunted down. Whole terrain is filled up with such exquisite natural beauty that people actually forget about hunting and concentrate upon their camera.
Some unique opportunities for adrenaline-generating experience can be encountered here in Jasen which is specially famous for caving. Majority of events are for serious cavers or spelunkers. For more information you can contact Macedonian Speleological Federation. Some caves can go upto 500 mt deep and stretch upto 1500 mt. These often get flooded with underground rivers.
Winding roads across the Nature Reserve are ideal grounds for biking. You can get best advices from Park managers about nice routes.
Park authority arranges paragliding, rock climbing, crash courses on survival techniques, river rafting etc activities.
In addition sumptuous dishes made of organic produces and homemade wine varieties are offered to tourists.
So if you want to explore deeper secrets of Jasen Nature Reserve, you need to come here. Park is waiting for you with earnest enthusiasm.