Hiking Vikos gorge & Zagori villages

Hiking Vikos gorge & Zagorian villages

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR HIKING Adventure in ZAGORI VILLAGES, vikos gorge & lefkada island

Wander around the picturesque Zagori villages, traverse the Vikos gorge and submerge into the turquoise waters of Lefkada island

KEY INFORMATION:

Tour Duration: 8 days (tailor-made available)
Group Size: Small groups
Season: May – October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Price Per Person: 8-day package: 861 to 957 Euro (contact us for our special  offers!)

PICTURE THIS!

Perched on the mountain slopes of Epirus, these 46 stone villages challenge you to explore their mysteries. ‘Zagorohoria’ are considered to be the most beautiful and well-preserved villages of Greece. They are not only great examples of traditional stone architecture, but of a still living tradition, full of myths, customs and cultural expressions of a culture nearing extinction; the culture of the mountainous populations of Greece.

Dramatic Papigo at the foot of the rock “towers” of Astraka… mountainous Vradeto with the outstanding stairs to the Beloi ‘balcony’ offering panoramic views to Vikos gorge… verdant and charming Elafotopos… picturesque Kipi with its wonderful hiking routes and stone built bridges… tiny Kapesovo with its delicious local products… Tsepelovo with its traditional festivals… sophisticated Aristi… authentic Vista… unexplored Dikorfo… the Zagorian villages’ natural beauty exceeds imagination!

Deep gorges, ravines, streams and flowing rivers, stone paved paths, staircases and bridges, challenging mountain trails… will definitely captivate you!

After wandering around the picturesque Zagorian villages and Vikos gorge for four days, we will continue our walking adventure along the west coast of Greece and the Ionian island of Lefkada, one of the prettiest and more authentic of the seven Ionian Islands.

Lefkada, Ulysses homeland, is a precious green stone in the turquoise blue waters of the Ionian Sea, an island of contrasts characterised by rugged mountains and lush green valleys. If you are a nature lover, Lefkada’s mountains, waterfalls, ravines, natural springs, gorges, lagoon, forests, lush vegetation and rare wild flowers, old network of footpaths and cobblestone donkey tracks as well as its stunning beaches with crystal clear waters… will enchant you.

HIGHLIGHTS

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

green_bullet Wander around the most picturesque and remote villages of Greece, the attractive and mysterious Zagorohoria,
green_bullet Traverse the Vikos gorge, the deepest canyon in the world in proportion to its width,
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Enjoy dreamy sceneries with breathtaking views,
green_bullet Submerge into the turquoise waters of Lefkada island,
green_bullet Meet locals and the most original mountainous tribe culture in Europe,
green_bullet Spot unique wild life and endemic flora!
green_bullet Do not forget to try out the famous pies, spoon sweets and the meats of Zagori as well as the local delicacies of Lefkada!
green_bullet Accompany your meal with fine red wine produced in the area and try in the evenings the local drink, tsipouro!

Here is an example of what you will experience while hiking in Vikos gorge & the Zagorian villages in Northern Greece and then in Lefkada island:

OUR ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT ZAGORI & RELAXED VILLAGE WALK
Meeting and transfer to our traditional guesthouse situated at the beautiful village of Elafotopos. As a Zagorian village, Elafotopos is another little gem, well-hidden underneath lush green mountains. The old name of Elafotopos village was “Cervari”, deriving from the word “Cerva” which means deer in Latin, signifying the high presence of deers in the area. In an attitude of 1100m Elafotopos holds an excellent climate and enjoys, due to its orientation, many hours of direct sunlight. In the afternoon you will stroll around Elafotopos traditional “kalderimia”, the centuries-old stone paths, visit the church, the square, the museum and the little “kafenio” (coffee shop) of the village. To complete taking in the atmosphere of our base camp we will enjoy a heart-warming dinner cooked by Lena, the owner of our guesthouse.

DAY 2: HIKE FROM VRADETO TO BELOI VIEWPOINT OVER THE WORLD’S DEEPEST GORGE

After having breakfast with a view, you will be transferred to Vradeto, the highest of the Zagori villages at an elevation of 1340m. Vradeto 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. This is where we’ll take a captivating path towards the viewpoint of Beloi, a natural stone balcony offering breathtaking panoramic views over the gorge. It is also the ideal spot for wildlife spotting due to its isolated and strategic location, so an encounter with a bold Eagle or one of the few remaining Pindos Black bears should not come as a surprise.

After admiring this wild, untouched scenery and returning to Vradeto for a coffee in its beautiful square, we will zig-zag down an impressive cobble-stone staircase of 1200 steps and 39 turns, that was painstakingly built stone by stone, and was the only connection of isolated Vradeto with Kapesevo and the rest of the world till the road was built in 1973! Completing our descent of this architectural masterpiece, the “Vradetto stairs”, we will have our dinner at Kapesovo, another village of unique architecture and tranquil atmosphere.

(Distance: 10 km. Technical difficulty: easy to medium. Actual walking time: 4-5 hours.)

DAY 3: TRAVERSE THE MAGNIFICENT VIKOS GORGE
Today is the day! After admiring the gorge from above, today you will be amazed by its ravines and hidden spots as you follow a long traverse route that will take you through the gorge, from the village of Monodendri all the way to the beautiful village of Papiggo. Starting in Monodentri, you will descent to the bottom of the gorge and then move up along the river bed until the Voidomatis springs. Vikos Gorge, with a length of 20km, walls that reach 450m and 1600m depth, and a width ranging from 400m to just a few meters at its narrowest part, is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the deepest canyon in the world in proportion to its width.

The park of Vikos Aoos is one of the ten national parks of Greece, part of the ecological network Natura 2000 and the UNESCO Geoparks Network, because of the rich variety of flora and the great variation of biotopes. Our naturalist guide will be glad to spot for you the most important plants and herbs!

After reaching Voidomatis springs – the brave enough can jump into the frozen water! – we will ascent to Papiggo, one of the most popular Zagorian villages. Papiggo is situated in a breathtaking landscape, under the towers of Astraka, some of the most amazing solid rock formations of the area. After a delicious meal at a local tavern and a stroll around the village, you will be transferred back to your guesthouse.

For those seeking some luxury, a visit to Mikro Papiggo 1700 Hotel can be arranged, which has an excellent spa overlooking Astraka’s towers.

(Distance: 18km. Technical difficulty: Medium. Actual walking time: 7-8 hours.)

Day 4: VILLAGE HOPPING THROUGH TRADITIONAL STONE PATHS AND ARCH BRIDGES

After a delicious breakfast at our guesthouse, you will start your recovery walk around the picturesque villages of Vitsa, Koukouli, Kipi and Dilofo through traditional stone-built paths and arch bridges. The Zagori area as you have realised by now is full of deep gorges, ravines, streams and white water rivers. Whereas today those water reservoirs serve as the playground of many outdoor activities, such as kayaking, rafting, river trekking and so on, back in the day they were big burdens for local people, especially in the winter, as some of them were impassable. Local wealthy families and noble governors were building bridges so that villages won’t stay isolated during winter and thus transport of goods and people was facilitated. The bridges were named after the family or noble who build it. Due to their remarkable architecture, most of these stone bridges are still standing and during this circular walk you will admire some of the most remarkable centuries-old arch bridges in Greece.

We will stop in Koukouli for a lunch break and a visit to the local museum dedicated to local and endemic herbs and plants. We’ll continue our village hopping till we reach our base, Elafotopos. Time to rest before enjoying another lovely dinner.

(Distance: 8 km. Technical difficulty: Easy. Actual walking time: 4-5 hours.)

Day 5: VISIT IOANNINA & TRANSFER TO LEFKADA

Today you’ll leave behind the mountains of Pindos to explore one of Greece’s most dramatic coastlines, the West coast ending up on the beautiful Ionian island of Lefkada. Lefkada is considered as one of the prettiest and more authentic of the seven Ionian Islands. On our way to Lefkada, we’ll have a break at Ioannina city in order for you to visit Pamvotida lake, the largest lake of Epirus offering majestic views to the surrounding mountains and the Byzantine castles of the city. Your journey will end at our beautiful guesthouse in Agios Nikitas fishing village, situated on the west shore of the island. Swim, relax and enjoy a delightful supper by the sea.

Day 6: CIRCULAR WALK AROUND EGLUVI’S PLATEAU

Today you’ll explore the beautiful plateau high above the highest village of Lefkada (730m) and until recently the most populated one, Egluvi village. Traditionally villagers used to grow wheat in sophisticated terraces around the village, and after the end of the harvest, they would make their own mix of flours using the windmills that were strategically situated in the nearby high hills. Our hike follows a circular route where you’ll have the opportunity to explore ruined windmills, abandoned terraces and threshing floors, as well as remote chapels, while enjoying panoramic views of the Ionian sea.

While the village of Egluvi today holds less than 30 inhabitants and no wheat is cultivated, the few remaining local families grow in the fertile grounds one of the most renowned variety of lentils. You’ll have dinner at the village’s main square under the shade of evergreen trees, where you’ll have the opportunity to taste the famous lentils and other delicious local “mezes”.

(Distance: 10 km. Technical difficulty: Easy. Actual walking time: 4-5 hours.)

Day 7: WILD HERBAL TOUR & HIKE THROUGH ANCIENT OAK FOREST TO TOP OF MT. SKAROS

We will start our walk from the picturesque village of Kolyvata where you will meet one of the most emblematic figures of Lefkada Island, Aris the herbalist. Aris will take you on a walk around the fertile valleys of Kolivata to introduce you to the local endemic medicinal plants and talk to you about their traditional uses through the centuries. After this unique herbal immersion we will have a small lunch break at the local tavern, where Maria, the owner, serves mouth-watering dishes with the products she grows in her garden.

We’ll continue to Mt Skaros, famous as the place where Ulysses took his sheep to pasture, and as one of the island’s most precious habitats. Located up in the river-crossed mountain, it is made up of centuries’ old moss-draped trees, especially a very rare type of oak which can only be found in Lefkada and in a handful of other forests in Europe. During the Venetian and Ottoman occupation guards were posted throughout the forest to protect it. At the top you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding islands and scattered picturesque villages. We’ll end our circular walk back at Kolyvata.

(Distance: 14 km. Technical difficulty: Easy to medium. Actual walking time: 6-7 hours.)

Day 8: ANCIENT TRAIL THROUGH A GORGE & SUNSET DINNER
Free morning to enjoy the surrounding beaches of Agios Nikitas, including the famous beach of Milos because of its crystal clear turquoise waters. Our last hike will start in the afternoon from the picturesque village of Exanthia, one of the more dramatically situated villages of Lefkada, overlooking the big blue and the amazing sunset.

The windy path will take you through ancient olive grooves and vineyards to the location of the “old” village and the chapel of Panagia. You’ll continue your descend through a small gorge and farmlands back to the village of Exanthia just in time to admire the pink sunset sky. For our farewell dinner, we chose Rachi restaurant, the most amazing “balcony amidst the clouds of the Ionian Sea”, where you will taste the most delicious dishes!

(Distance: 8 km. Technical difficulty: Easy. Actual walking time: 3-4 hours.)

 

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 mountains and its picturesque Zagorian villages. 4, 7 and 10- day itineraries are offered.

The carefully chosen walks during this hiking holiday in Zagori and Lefkada are graded as easy to moderate. We will walk mainly on paths of moderate gradient with ascents of up to 500m in a day. We will walk around 5-6 hours most days including stops to rest and for lunch. Being predominately limestone some parts of our paths can be quite rough and stoney. A good pair of hiking boots and walking poles are essential. Though previous experience is not necessary, a basic fitness level is required.

Temperatures can get pretty chilly at night, even during the summer months in Northern Greece, while rain is always a possibility. Full list of what to bring with you 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 Zagori and Lefkada have to offer! This unique hiking holiday that combines the mountains of Northern Greece and an Ionian island is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the Greek mountainous and island 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 adventure around the Zagorian villages, Vikos gorge and Lefkada island between May and October.

We have reserved for you lovely authentic family-run guesthouses at very picturesque locations.  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 hiking adventure at Vikos gorge & Zagori villages… as well as Lefkada island!