"Conquering three of Greece’s highest peaks and exploring three mythical alpine lakes..."
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 9-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 species 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 & Elafotopos (Zagorohoria, Mt Tymfi). You will have time to relax and wonder around the most picturesque villages in Greece, the attractive and mysterious Zagorohoria and traverse Vikos gorge, the deepest canyon in the world; a real paradise for nature lovers!
Finally you’ll experience how life is perceived at the highlands of Greece… where one of the last remaining original mountainous tribal 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.
Here is an example of what you will experience during our unique Pindos hiking & alpine lake hopping in Northern Greece:
Take a few moments to breath in the air from Greece‘s second highest peak and the highest of the Pindos Mountain range (2,637m). After admiring the scenic views we will return to Pades village for a delicious dinner at our favourite local tavern.
(Distance: 22km. Technical difficulty: Medium. Actual walking time: 8-10 hours.)
Here you will have the opportunity to enjoy some majestic views over the Vikos gorge, in a short walking distance from the village or hike down the famous “Skala of Vradeto”, a stone built path, connecting Vradeto with its neighboring village, Kapesovo.
At the end of your trek, you will reach Astraka refuge for a heart-warming dinner and a long sought after rest. By spending the night in the mountain refuge, you will experience the “mountain spirit” and hopefully a clear night sky offering excellent opportunities for stargazing.
(Distance: 18km. Technical difficulty: Medium to Challenging. Actual walking time: 8-10 hours.)
On the way to the lake, you will pass from a spring and another seasonal lake named “Xeroloutsa”. The surrounding landscape, although naked, is incredibly impressive, offering panoramic views to the surrounding mountain peaks. After a delightful picnic you will start your descent to the charming village of Mikro Papigo, where we will spend the night.
(Distance: 10 km. Technical difficulty: Medium. Actual walking time: 7-8 hours.)
Vikos is an enclosed ecosystem and our guide will introduce you to its unique flora. You will also have to opportunity to refresh by jumping into the cold waters of the springs! You will end your hike by ascending to Monodendri village and after a rewarding lunch, you will be transferred to our guesthouse at Elafotopos village.
(Distance 17km. Technical difficulty: Medium. Actual walking time: 8-10 hours.)
Today you will enjoy a relaxed walk to the nearby villages of Vitsa, Koukouli and Kipi through traditional stone-built paths and arched bridges. The area is full of rivers where, still today, some remarkable centuries-old arch bridges can be seen. We will stop for lunch at Koukouli village and visit its unique folk and botanical museum. After visiting Kipi village we will make our way back to Elafotopos for a rest and dinner.
(Distance 7 km. Technical difficulty: Easy. Actual walking time: 3-4 hours.)
Time to leave Zagori behind and move to the remote Grammos mountain range, marked by the history of the several wars which were fought on its mountains. It belongs to the Natura 2000 network and is the most important habitat of the brown bear Ursus arctos, an endangered species in Greece and Europe. Our base for the next 2 nights will be Plikati village, built at the foot of Mt Grammos at 1,240m. Dinner will be served at the local guesthouse.
(Distance: 5.5km. Technical difficulty: Easy. Actual walking time: 3-4 hours.)
After a strenuous 5-hour walk you will reach the stunning ‘dragon Lake’ of Gistova, remnant of the ice age, that decorates the green and sometimes white backdrop of alpine meadows, enhancing the beauty of the scenery. This is Greece’s largest and highest alpine lake as it lies at 2,350m. A perfect spot for our picnic. Back at our lodge, a farewell BBQ will be your reward!
(Distance: 22 km. Technical difficulty: Medium to challenging (if continue to the Gistova alpine lake). Walking time: 11-12 hours.)
“The Tymfi area had outstanding natural beauty and it would have been better to have more time there… Taking the trip in early June meant an abundance of wild flowers too. Yannis and Daphne were both great fun to travel with, the itinerary was well thought out and everything was seamless thanks to their hard work, not to mention great food, good weather and a nice group. It is fair to say that we enjoyed the experience very much.”
"Thanks for the follow up and for all the support you gave us in the build up to the holiday – this left us with a very positive impression. Yannis and Daphne were both great fun to travel with, the itinerary was well thought out and everything was seamless thanks to their hard work, not to mention great food, good weather and a nice group. It is fair to say that we enjoyed the experience very much J Sadly back to the routine of work now."
"Hiking around Vikos Gorge was amazing. A fairly remote place, the hikes were challenging but beautiful and the food at the end of each day was superb. A truly memorable experience."
“The most memorable part of the holiday was seeing a young wolf running along the road ahead of us while we were driving on a mountain track through a forest! It was excellent, not only wonderful walking in a very little known area of Northern Greece, but plenty of opportunity to experience local life and visit the delightful villages in the area and walk the traditional paths and bridges built many years ago by local people. The walking was well balanced with tough days interspersed with easier days. Plenty of good local food and wine. The scenery was breath taking. Our guide was very helpful and very knowledgeable of local customs, flora and fauna as well as the mountains. Definitely 5 stars.
“Long days with climbs through dramatic high mountain scenery, shorter days among mountain villages and ancient footpaths. Each day delightful different, with excellent friendly accommodation and guide. Highly recommended!”