Mountains set Prespa apart, enclosing its vast waters behind a gallery of stone. They’ve shaped the cultures of the shared lakes, from the spiritual seclusion of hermits in Ottoman times to pastoralism in the recent past.
On the highest mountains – Kitsevo, Belavoda, Mali i Thate, and Pelister at 2,600 metres, snow holds fast until June. Then the slopes suddenly flare into a short summer, their grasslands a storm of wildflowers and butterflies.
In winter, the mountains are owned by others: ravens, horned larks, stone-fastened lichens. The occasional wakened bear. Up there winds scour the snowfields as if blades. Light pours as clear as cold water.
To understand the mountains’ place in Prespa, you need to see inside. Imagine slicing a line down the middle of the basin as you would with a cake. Then tease the pieces apart. Instead of the same substance to either side, you’ll have discovered a world of sharp difference.
Dark, brooding granite holds the eastern flank, while limestone – so pale and porous – controls the west. In their collision they give rise to entirely varied habitats in a single place. And they lend the lakes a rare spectrum of distinguished light.
Next time: wildflowers. Stay safe, everyone.