Hiking & Alpine Lake hopping in Northern Greece

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF our Hiking & Alpine Lake hopping in Northern Greece

Conquering three of Greece’s highest peaks and exploring three mythical alpine lakes

Visiting the most picturesque and remote villages of Greece, including the attractive and mysterious Zagorohoria…

KEY INFORMATION:

Tour Duration: 7 days (tailor made available)
Group Size: Small groups
Season: May – October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Price Per Person: 7-day package: 839 Euro (contact us for offers!)

PICTURE THIS!

A vast complex of mountains, peaks, plateaus, valleys and gorges traverses the Greek mainland from the Northwest to the Southeast, creating the Pindos mountain range – the so called “Spine of Greece”.

Pindos is considered the southernmost extension of the Dinaric Alps and lies in the rugged and mountainous Epirus region, which boasts an incredible history and culture dating back to ancient times.

During our 7-day trek you will explore three of the highest mountains of Greece – Grammos, Smolikas and Tymfi – and their alpine lakes, remnants of the Ice Age. Dramatic high altitude sceneries and incredible landscapes will be a feast for your eyes!

Locals in Greece call high altitude alpine lakes ‘dragon lakes’ or ‘drakolimnes’ because they are believed to have been created by dragons throwing stones at each other. Each ‘dragon lake’ bears the name of the monster that created it. We will aim to spot the Alpine newt Triturus alpestris, a very rare amphibian specie living in these lakes, believed to be one of the few survivors of the dinosaurs’ era.

Every day you’ll rest at picturesque guesthouses and refuges at remote villages such as Grammousta (Mt Grammos), Pades (Mt Smolikas) and Papigo and Kapesovo (Zagorohoria, Mt Tymfi). You’ll experience how life is perceived at the highlands of Greece… where one of the last remaining original mountainous tribe cultures of Europe still exists! If we are lucky we’ll join one of their famous “panigiria”, village celebrations that take place throughout the summer.

HIGHLIGHTS

Those who will dare to take the endeavor will reward themselves with the experience of a lifetime:

green_bullet Conquering three of Greece’s highest peaks,

green_bullet Exploring three mythical alpine lakes,

green_bullet 
Enjoying unspoilt sceneries with breathtaking views,

green_bullet Swimming into crystal clear waters,

green_bullet Visiting the most picturesque and remote villages of Greece, including the attractive and mysterious Zagorohoria,

green_bullet Meeting locals and the most original mountainous tribe culture in Europe,

green_bullet Spotting unique wild life and endemic flora!

Here is an example of what you will experience during our unique hiking & alpine lake hopping in Northern Greece:

OUR ITINERARY

DAY 1: CULTURAL WALK AT KASTORIA TOWN & TRANSFER TO GRAMMOS MOUNTAIN LODGE
Meeting and welcome at the town of Thessaloniki. Transfer to Kastoria, one of the most beautiful towns of Northern Greece, dramatically situated by the shores of Orestiada lake, with a rich cultural history dating back to the Byzantine times. After a short cultural walk around the city, you will enjoy traditional ‘mezes’ at our favorite local tavern! We’ll then leave civilization behind to reach the remote village of Grammousta (1,380m), high on Mt. Grammos. There we will have a heart filling dinner prepared by our host while we discuss tomorrow’s trek.

DAY 2: HIKE TO GISTOVA ALPINE LAKE AND TSOUKA PETSIK PEAK
After breakfast we will begin our trek to the ‘dragon lake’ of Gistova. This alpine lake is Greece’s largest one and the one on the highest ground, as it lies on 2,350m elevation on the massif of Grammos Mountain, bordering Albania. After a strenuous 3-hour walk you will come face to face with the blue lake that decorates the green and sometimes white backdrop of alpine meadows, enhancing the beauty of the scenery. A perfect spot for our picnic!

Those courageous enough will have the opportunity to continue the trek for another two hours, up to the highest top of Grammos, “Τsouka Petsik”, at an elevation of 2,520m. Back at our lodge a rich and delicious dinner will be your reward!

(Distance: 19.71km. Technical difficulty: Medium to challenging (if continue to the peak). Walking time: 8-10 hours.)

DAY 3: HIKE THROUGH PRISTINE FOREST & TRAVEL 'BACK IN HISTORY'
Τoday’s trek will take us through an area of extreme beauty, passing through a pristine pine and beech forest and dramatic cliff formations. You’ll walk back in time to one of Greece’s most dramatic periods, the 2nd World War and the subsequent civil war that was fought high on the mountains between 1946 and 1949.

Living the village of Grammousta, we’ll walk along Aliakmonas River, heading towards the abandoned village of Lianotopi, passing by the famous “Rebel’s Hospital”, a cave that during the war was used as a hiding spot for the wounded rebels of the Greek Liberation army. Spotting tracks of wild animals such as deers, wolves, even bears is not uncommon. After 4 hours, we will reach the village of Lianotopi where our pick up service will be waiting to take us to our next destination, the beautiful village of Pades, at the foothills of Mt Smolikas. Dinner will be served at your guesthouse.

(Distance: 7km. Technical difficulty: Easy to medium. Actual walking time: 3-4 hours.)

Day 4: ASCENT TO GREECE’s SECOND HIGHEST PEAK, MT SMOLIKAS

Take a few moments to breath in the air coming down from Greece‘s second highest peak and the highest of the Pindos Mountain range (2,637m) and take in the green colors of the scenery. Starting from the square of Pades village, we’ll ascend steadily through a lush coniferous forest, mainly of black pines and oaks. The whole area is a Natura 2000 site featuring very extensive flora and fauna, including some of Greece’s most rare wildflowers as well as wildcats, bears and wolves.

Within 3 hours we’ll reach Smolikas’ alpine lake at an elevation of 2,200m. The lake has a perimeter of about 380 human steps and is quite deep for its small size. The sheer beauty of it will tempt you to go for a swim in the crystal-clear yet very cold waters. After a small break for a snack, those who wish will continue ascending for an hour and a half through a steeper path carved in the stony slope in order to reach the summit!

On our way back we will descend, following a different path leading to the beautiful village of Palioseli. There we will visit one of the few remaining water mills in Greece, where locals still grind their own flour, originating from homegrown varieties of ancient grains. After a celebratory drink, we will return to Pades village where we will have dinner at the famous local tavern.

(Distance: 16km. Technical difficulty: Medium. Actual walking time: 7-9 hours.)

Day 5: REST DAY & TRANSFER TO ATTRACTIVE and MYSTERIOUS ZAGOROHORIA

Perched on the Pindos mountain slopes, lie the 46 ‘stone fairytales’ of Epirus, the Zagorohoria villages, considered to be the best-preserved settlements of Greece. Stone pathways, stone bridges, beautiful mansions, flowing rivers, natural pools and waterfalls amidst thick forests, awe-inspiring views of mountains peaks and gorges… nature at its finest!

Today you’ll enjoy a relaxed morning. After breakfast you’ll be transferred to your guesthouse at Papigo where our trek will start the following morning. On the way we’ll visit the Zagori village of Vikos where you’ll have the opportunity to gaze the breathtaking views of Vikos gorge, listed as the deepest gorge in the world.

We’ll continue towards Papigo where you can rest, have a spa, explore the villages of Mikro & Megalo Papigo… or enjoy an optional activity such as white-river rafting!

Day 6: HIKE TO TYMFI’S 'DRAGON LAKE' & SPEND THE NIGHT AT A MOUNTAIN REFUGE
Our ascent towards Tymfi’s alpine lake will start from the village of Mikro Papigo. On the way, you will pass from 4 springs and a seasonal lake named Xeroloutsa. After a 4-hour walk, you will be rewarded when you reach the alpine lake, located at a 2,050m elevation and lying next to a precipice facing Aoos River. The surrounding landscape, although naked, is incredibly impressive, offering you panoramic views to the surrounding mountain peaks.

The ‘Drakolimni’ has a rich fauna, which includes the Alpine newt Triturus alpestris, a very rare amphibian specie between 8 and 12cm in length with a black-brown shaded outer spine, which is protected by the Greek and European legislations alike.

Coming back from the lake we will stop at Astraka’s mountain refuge where we will spend the night to experience the ‘mountain spirit’ and hopefully a clear night sky offering excellent opportunities for stargazing.

(Distance: 12km. Technical difficulty: Medium. Actual walking time: 6-7 hours.)

Day 7: CONQUER GAMILA’s PEAK & DECENT TO THE ZAGORI VILLAGE
Today’s goal is to conquer Gamila crest (2,497m), which is Tymfi’s highest peak. The path to the summit is 6km long and it will take about two hours starting from the refuge, while offering panoramic 360° views of the surrounding mountains and peaks. After a small break at the top, we’ll follow a captivating path descending to the village of Τsepelovo. In Tsepelovo we will make a ‘tasty’ stop to the local pastry shop known for their traditional homemade sweets before continuing to the nearby village of Kapesovo.

Kapesovo is one of the most excellent examples of traditional stone architecture, dominant in every public building, dwellings and churches, in the village paths, which still remain unspoilt. Dinner will be served at the premises of our guesthouse, one of the most atmospheric places in Zagori.

(Distance: 20km. Technical difficulty: Medium to challenging. Actual walking time: 8-10 hours.)

Day 8: TRANSFER BACK TO THESSALONIKI
 Farewell breakfast and transfer back to Thessaloniki.

 

It is possible to extend your hiking adventure for a few days and explore Vikos gorge, Olympus mountain or Meteora… or combine it with a week at the Ionian islands of Lefkada or Ithaca. Please contact us for further information.

The above itinerary is subject to changes according to the weather conditions or other special events taking place during the week. The enjoyment of our guests and their safety are always our priorities. Flexible itineraries are available based on the needs of our guests. We can organise a more challenging or a more relaxed-pace itinerary offering you more time to relax and enjoy the mountains and nature of Pindos and its picturesque villages. 4, 7 and 10- day itineraries are offered.

This is a relatively demanding hiking adventure, with treks at high attitudes and remote alpine zones and large cumulative elevation throughout the week. You should estimate between 6 and 10 hours approximate walking time per hike. Though previous experience is not necessary, a basic fitness level is required.

Temperatures can get pretty chilly at night, even during the summer months, while rain is always a possibility. You are strongly advised to come prepared for a real mountaineering experience, meaning you’ll need a good pair of hiking shoes and walking poles, a backpack of no less that 40lt, a day pack, waterproof shells, warm clothes and socks and a personal first aid kit. Full list and further information will be provided. Away from the big towns, there are no shops, so you’ll need to purchase everything you need prior to the beginning of the adventure.

We look forward to show you the best North Greece has to offer! This unique cross-country hiking holiday is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the Greek mountainous nature, history and culture, off the beaten track… while enjoying the great outdoors to the maximum.

Solo travellers are welcome. It’s always more fun to walk with a group of like-minded travellers.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

We organise our hiking and alpine hopping adventure in Northern Greece between May and October.

We have reserved for you lovely authentic family-run guesthouses and hostels at very picturesque location.  The owners are very hospitable and helpful and are known to provide the most delicious breakfasts and meals. We’ll send you full details.

The combination of natural beauty and culture but also the hospitality of the residents will make this holiday unforgettable for you.

green_bullet Check our fees!

green_bullet How we walk towards nofootprint…

green_bullet Check photos from our walking holiday!