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Extended Pindos hiking & Alpine Lake hopping

No Footprint - 10 days

  • Extended Pindos hiking & Alpine Lake hopping
  • 10 days / 9 nights
  • Max. group: 10 Persons
  • Difficulty: Easy
Overview
Route
What's Included
Accommodation
FAQ
Packing List
Safety
No Footprint
How to Book

Overview

> Conquering three of Greece’s highest peaks
> Exploring three mythical alpine lakes
>Wander around the most picturesque and remote villages of Greece, the attractive and mysterious Zagorohoria
>Traverse the Vikos gorge, the deepest canyon in the world in proportion to its width
> Enjoying unspoiled sceneries with breathtaking views
> Swimming into crystal clear waters
> Meeting locals and the most original mountainous tribe culture in Europe
> Spotting unique wildlife and endemic flora!

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 this extended version of the Pindos hiking & Alpine Lake hopping trek, you will explore not two but 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 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.

Route

What's the plan?

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

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 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!

After admiring the scenic views from the top, 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 1340m 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 of 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 that range from 450m to 1,600m deep 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, while explaining all about the traditional methods of knitting and color diving.

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 little 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, 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 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 in its historic collection and a lunch cooked by local women. Eventually you will be transferred to Gramousta village and our 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. These lakes, remnants of the ice age, are in hard-to-reach locations, so after a strenuous 3-hour walk you will reach the stunning 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 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.

Important: The above itinerary is subject to changes according to the weather conditions or other special events taking place during the week.

What's Included

Included:

√ Transfers
On the first day of the trek, we will pick you up at Thessaloniki. At the beginning of each day, we will take you to the starting point of the trek and we will take you to the accommodation for the night once the trekking is over.

√ Accommodation
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. Accommodation is based on a double room, shared basis. Single supplement available for EUR 135-.

√ Guides
During the treks at Zagorohoria & Grammos, Smolikas, and Tymfi mountains you will be accompanied by professional guides who will introduce you to the local biodiversity, local flora and fauna.

√ Introductory briefing
On the morning of the first day of the trek, we will meet you in Thessaloniki for an introductory briefing where we will explain all the details of the trek and we will answer all your questions.

√ Breakfast
Breakfast is included and will be provided at the family-run guesthouses and hostels during the trek.

√ Emergency contact number 24/7
There is an emergency contact number available 24/7 in case of an emergency. We will be available to assist you during the whole trek.

√ Fees and Taxes
VAT and other taxes and fees are included in the price of this trek.

Excluded:

× Flights
The total amount excludes flights to and from Greece. You will also have to make your way to the starting point of the trek, in Thessaloniki.

× Lunch and dinner
Lunch and dinner are not included in the price of the trek. You will find plenty of cozy restaurants to enjoy along the treks.

× Accommodation before and after the trek
Before and after the trek you have to take care of your own accommodation.

× Personal expenses
All personal expenses such as drinks at the bar, washing and other similar expenses are for your own account.

× Travel Insurance Including Repatriation
Your international travel insurance is your own responsibility. It is important that your travel insurance also covers trekking trips. Discuss your itinerary with the insurance company before you travel to Greece.

Accommodation

Accommodation

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. They are all traditional and have a local character. The owners are friendly and will do everything in their power for you to have a pleasant stay.

Accommodation is based on a double room, shared basis. Single supplement available for EUR 135,-.

FAQ

Best season
We organize our hiking and alpine hopping adventure in Northern Greece between May and October. 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

Tipping
Tipping in Greece is expected in most places, but it is by no means obligatory. Of course, there is no set standard for how much to tip when you got a good service. As regards tipping your tour guide, tipping between 2 to 5 Euros per person, per day of trek, is a good reference.

Training

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. A good pair of hiking boots and walking poles are essential. Though previous experience is not necessary, a basic fitness level is required.

Being fit for your trek in Greece will not only make the hike safer for you, but also for your team. If you are unsure about being able to complete this trek, we advise you to start training a few weeks in advance, walking a few hours a day, carrying a backpack. Climbing stairs also helps.

Packing List

Packing List

Packing the right clothes and equipment is always one of the most crucial parts of getting ready for a trek. Here is a summary of what you should bring with you for this trekking adventure in Greece:
 
• Hiking boots
• Socks
• Trekking trousers
• Underwear
• Baselayer shirts
• T-shirts and/or casual shirts
• Fleece jacket or warm jumper
• Waterproof jacket
• Gloves or mittens
• Sunhat or cap
• Sunglasses
• Warm Hat
• Daypack 20-35 litres
• Headtorch and spare batteries
• Sun protection (including for lips)
• Water bottles x2 1 Litre (we encourage re-filling water bottles rather than single use plastic)
• Optional: Sheet sleeping bag liner (for the 1 night at the refuge)
• Washbag and toiletries
• Optional: Small Towel (for the 1 night at the refuge)

The main thing to bear in mind is that in the mountainous areas it can get chilly at night so you will need warm clothes. It can be sunny during the day but chilly at night. 

Safety

Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance to us. That is why this is an area in which we simply do not compromise when it comes to keeping the cost of our trekkings low. Our guides have been selected on the basis of their technical competence, proven safety performance, impeccable judgment, friendly attitude and ability to provide useful and expert instructions. They are also very professional and well trained in first aid and personal protection equipment. First aid kits are available on all treks.

No Footprint

No Footprint

There isn’t a better way to experience Greece and explore its natural beauty than by getting out and about on your own feet! Whether you are an experienced hiker who is interested in challenging treks or a beginner who enjoys short hikes to admire beautiful sceneries, then you’ll find what you’re looking for. All our walking and hiking adventure holidays around the Greek islands and the mainland are organized by people who care and are committed to responsible touristic development. 

We are dedicated towards encouraging low-impact tourism and activity holidays, such as walking and minimizing our negative impact on the environment and people. We are committed to building a sustainable future for our community and believe that the best way to protect our natural environment is by educating people about the unique flora, fauna, and culture of our region. Our team of expert local guides is dedicated to introducing you to our unique natural and cultural world and guiding you through the country's untouched paths!

How to Book

How does it work?

On Bookatrekking.com you can find and compare the adventures of your dreams. Is this trekking adventure your match? In that case, you can proceed to book. At Bookatrekking.com you make a deposit of 15% of the total amount. You pay the remaining amount on location prior to the trek directly to the trekking company.

Bookatrekking.com uses only the safest payment methods. Once your booking has been received, your place is reserved, your place is safe and you can look forward to your chosen trekking.

After you have made your booking, you will receive an e-mail confirmation with all the necessary information and the contact details of the trekking company. If you have any questions or if you want to clarify something, you can obtain information directly from the right person. Of course, you can also always ask us your question. Send us an e-mail on support@bookatrekking.com

The trekking company will also receive your details and can therefore always contact you and provide you with extra information.

Cancellation Policy

You wish you didn’t have to, but there is no other way: You find yourself having to cancel your plans. In this case, you lose your deposit, but since you haven’t paid the large sum yet, you at least save that. Please do let us know if you cannot make it. A no-show can be a small disaster for your trekking provider, who did its best to block your dates. View our complete cancellation policy here.

 

 

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