New country souvenir, North Macedonia, with Geocache of the Week: Snake Island

by Galejnik
North Macedonia
N 40° 52.164 E 020° 59.304

Today, we released a new country souvenir for North Macedonia. If you have found a geocache in North Macedonia, you automatically receive the souvenir on your profile.

Nestled within Southeastern Europe is the Republic of North Macedonia. Located on the Balkan Peninsula, the country lies at a junction point between several historic trade routes and is comprised primarily of mountains. In fact, 80% of North Macedonia’s land is mountainous!

Image by SisqoKid.

The rugged landscape and sprawling forests make the perfect habitat for one of the planet’s rarest animals, the Balkan lynx. This critically endangered species and national symbol even appears on the back of the 5 denar coin, the country’s currency.

North Macedonia has a cultural history that dates back to the Neolithic Era. This means there is a rich cultural tapestry that includes one of the world’s oldest astronomical observatories, dozens of castles and fortresses scattered throughout the country, and a wealth of ancient ruins and archaeological sites. Interestingly, it is also unique in that it is one of only a few countries that has an island despite being landlocked.

Image by neonka.

Guarded by the water of Lake Prespa is the location of our Geocache of the Week, Snake Island (GC4V3FE). Also known as Golem Grad, or ‘Big City/Town’ in English, Snake Island is 600 meters long and 350 meters wide, a few kilometers away from the Greek and Albanian borders. Aptly named, the island is home to three types of serpents: Dice snakes, Grass snakes, and the venomous Horned Viper Snake.

While at one point the island was swarming with snakes, many of them venomous, visitors can now visit with lowered guards, knowing that the main occupants of the island are pelicans, turtles, and cormorants. However, some geocachers have reported seeing at least a few snakes during their visit to the island, so it is always best to come prepared and be cautious when visiting the island.

Image by geomady.

The only way to get to this Terrain 5 geocache is by boat. This only adds to the adventure of this experience, as the view upon arrival makes you feel like Robinson Crusoe!

The expedition begins with finding a boat to embark on the one hour journey to the island. Luckily, there are several coastal cities nearby with a few options to choose from, and some geocachers elect to take a guide to lead them on their quest. There is a reason this cache holds a D/T rating of 5/5; as the sole cache on the islet, Snake Island requires you to work hard to make the find!

Image by vriskodromo.

Once you step on the island it’s time to dig up your inner archaeologist and explore the nearby ruins dating from the Middle Ages to Ancient Rome. There’s a meandering trail that travels around the island that guides you through different centuries in search of the geocache.

After your journey through history is finished, it’s time to make your way to the cache to claim your long-awaited prize. The northern end of the island, just off-trail, is where X marks the spot. The trees are dense in this area, however under the roots of one of the trees is the treasure. Be sure to first check carefully for hidden snakes. Once the area is deemed safe, grab the cache, claim the find, and mark your treacherous journey complete!

Image by B1ntk8.

On your voyage back to the mainland, you can bask in the accomplishment of your quest and rest easy knowing that your days of fending off snakes are over. Then it’s time to start planning your next adventure, as North Macedonia has so much more to offer. From trekking through the many mountains, exploring ancient ruins, and maybe even spotting a rare Balkan lynx, there is bound to be a new adventure around every corner.

We know geocachers love country and regional souvenirs and we do too! We are releasing at least one new country/regional souvenir per month starting in January 2019. These new souvenirs will be featured alongside Geocaches of the Week in each region and shared on the third Wednesday of each month. Check out all of the Geocaching souvenirs here.

Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world. Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.

Nikki is a Community Coordinator at Geocaching HQ. Her specialties include making cheesy puns, talking endlessly about coffee, and being the only Californian who enjoys rain. She is passionate about geocaching and loves that it brings communities together.