Pindos Hiking in Northern Greece

PINDOS HIKING & ALPINE LAKE HOPPING

  • May - Oct
  • Small Groups
  • 7-9 days
  • Customizable

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

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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:

Join our Pindos hiking & alpine lake hopping adventure!

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

images Conquering three of Greece’s highest peaks,

images Exploring three mythical alpine lakes,

images Wander around the most picturesque and remote villages of Greece, the attractive and mysterious Zagorohoria,

images Traverse the Vikos gorge, the deepest canyon in the world in proportion to its width,

images Enjoying unspoilt sceneries with breathtaking views,

images Swimming into crystal clear waters,

images Meeting locals and the most original mountainous tribes in Europe,

images Spotting unique wild life and endemic flora!

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 reasonable 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.

The itinerary below 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 main 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 Zagori villages.

It is possible to join us for 7 or 9 days or extend your hiking adventure for a few days and explore Olympus mountain or Meteora… or combine it with a week at the Ionian islands of Lefkada or Ithaca. Please contact us for further information.

We have reserved for you lovely authentic family-run guesthouses and mountain refuges at very picturesque locations. The refuges in Greece are quite basic but they provide shelter. The owners are very hospitable and helpful and are known to provide the most delicious breakfasts and meals. We’ll send you full details.

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

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.

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

Contact us for further information and special offers!

HIKING & ALPINE HOPPING IN NORTHERN GREECE HOLIDAY FEES

9-day hiking holiday staying at traditional family-run guesthouses and refuges:

All prices are per person for two people sharing a standard double room.

  • 9 nights – EUR 996 to EUR 1107 depending on the season
  • Supplement for single rooms: EUR 135

We offer group and special offers. Please contact us for further information…

The fee includes:

  • 6 guided hikes at Zagorohoria & Grammos, Smolikas, Tymfi mountains
  • Accommodation x 9 days
  • Breakfast
  • 24% VAT
  • Transfer from and to Thessaloniki
  • Luggage transfers
  • Transfers to and from our starting and ending walking points
  • Client’s information brief by e-mail
  • An arrival briefing
  • Presentations and information on the biodiversity & local flora and fauna

Book your walking holiday and discover the best Northern Greece has to offer!

Itinerary

DAY 1: TRANSFER TO PADES & STROLL AROUND THE VILLAGE
Meeting in Thessaloniki and transfer to the remote and pristine village of Pades, at the foothills of Mt. Smolikas. On the way, we will stop for lunch at a picturesque village. In Pades you will enjoy a relaxed walk around the village before our welcome supper.
DAY 2: ASCENT TO GREECE’S SECOND HIGHEST PEAK, MT SMOLIKAS
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 unique flora and fauna, including some of Greece’s most rare wildflowers as well as bears and wolves. Within 3 hours you’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 its crystal-clear yet very cold waters will take your breath away. After a short break for a snack and rest, you can continue ascending for an hour and a half through a steeper path carved in the stony slope in order to reach the summit!

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.)
DAY 3: REST DAY AT THE HIGHEST VILLAGE OF ZAGORI OFFERING MAJESTIC VIEWS
After summiting Smolikas peak, we will take a day to relax and introduce you to the atmosphere of the Zagori villages. After breakfast you will be transferred to Vradeto, the highest of the Zagori villages at an elevation of 1,340m above sea level. Vradeto is one of the most excellent examples of traditional stone architecture, dominant in every public building, dwellings and churches and in the village paths, which still remain unspoilt. Vradeto still today is an original village, off the main tourist trails, with just a few permanent inhabitants.

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.
DAY 4: TRAVERSE TYMFI MOUNTAIN RANGE TO REACH ASTRAKA REFUGE
We will start our trek early in the morning, leaving Vradeto behind to hike up to Tymfi’s plateau through one of the least visited, but yet most beautiful, paths. Tymfi is a mountainous system of towering peaks, vertical cliffs, alpine meadows, endless mountain ranges, canyons, precipices, forests, seasonal lakes and rivers that form a landscape reminiscent of the Alps. It is also called Gamila after its highest peak (2,497 m). The landscapes and views will leave you speechless.

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.)
DAY 5: HIKE TO TYMFI’S 'DRAGON LAKE' & DESCENT TO PAPIGO VILLAGE
Today’s goal is to visit the second alpine lake of our tour, the famous “Drakolimni” of the Tymfi mountain range, located at 2,050m. It has an elliptic shape and a perimeter of approximately 5,000m while it offers stunning views of river Aoos in the background. The alpine lake has a rich fauna, which includes the alpine triton “Triturus alpestris”, a very rare amphibian species between 8cm and 12cm in length with a black-brown shaded outer spine, which is protected by the Greek and European legislations alike.

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.)
DAY 6: TRAVERSE THE MAGNIFICENT VIKOS GORGE
Today you will descend to the bottom of Vikos gorge, where the Voidhomatis river springs lie. You’ll be fascinated by the surrounding natural beauty. The landscape of the gorge presents a diverse relief and is characterized by abrupt altitudinal changes. With a length of 20km, walls whose height ranges from 450m to 1,600m and a width from 400m to a few meters at its narrowest part, Vikos gorge is listed by the Guiness Book of Records as the deepest canyon in the world in proportion to its width.

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.)
DAY 7: ZAGORI VILLAGE HOPPING THROUGH TRADITIONAL PATHS & BRIDGES
You will start the day with a beautiful breakfast on your guesthouse’s terrace followed by a demonstration of the Greek “Ergalios”, a very old form of warp-weighted loom used in the Zagoria villages for centuries. The owner of the ‘Roka’ guesthouse is an affectionate loom collector and she will show us around her collection.

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.)
DAY 8: HIKE THROUGH PRISTINE FOREST & TRAVEL 'BACK IN HISTORY'
Today we will 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 specie in Greece and Europe.

Your introductory hike to Grammos will take you through a lush forest up to Kotili tower, a watchtower during time of war, with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. You will end the hike with a visit to the “Museum of National Reconciliation” for a guided tour of its historic collection and a home-made lunch prepared by local women. Eventually you will be transferred to Gramousta village and a unique lodge, totally hand-built from local wood, where dinner will be served.

(Distance: 7km. Technical difficulty: Easy to medium. Actual walking time: 3-4 hours.)
DAY 9: HIKE TO GISTOVA ALPINE LAKE AND TSOUKA PETSIK PEAK
After breakfast you will begin your trek to the ‘dragon Lake’ of Gistova. This is Greece’s largest and highest alpine lake as it lies at 2,350m. After a strenuous 3-hour walk you will reach the stunning lake, remnant of the ice age, 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 continue for another two hours up to the highest peak of Grammos, “Τsouka Petsik”, at an elevation of 2,520m. Back at our lodge, a farewell BBQ will be your reward!

(Distance: 20 km. Technical difficulty: Medium to challenging (if continue to the peak). Walking time: 8-10 hours.)
DAY 10: TRANSFER BACK TO THESSALONIKI
Farewell breakfast and transfer back to Thessaloniki.

Map

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