The Zagorohoria and Vikos Gorge, Northern Greece. 2015

Travelled : 70 kilometres from Ioaninna to Monodendri, Greece
Visited : The Zagorohoria and Vikos Gorge
Stayed : Wildcamped roadside at the edge of Monodendri village (recommended by the information centre), then Camping Ioannina the details are in the previous post.

Up relatively early we service the Hymer and head north from Ioannina. Our fist stop is a supermarket just up the road. It all seems a little chaotic, there are people everywhere. Then we see the people are all waiting outside the two banks that almost adjoin each other opposite the supermarket. It Monday morning and the banks haven’t opened yet. Apparently Greeks can now only take โ‚ฌ420 per week and the cycle starts on Monday !

We have been enjoying wonderful strawberries, raspberries and blueberries from England

through to Italy but we cannot find any in the Greek supermarkets. However the peaches are magnificent. Loaded up with some fresh fruit and a few bits and pieces we drive on into the Zagorohoria. Turning off the E road we start the long climb into the mountains, our first stop is the visitor centre at Aspraggeli.

 

Get Directions

 

Found this wonderful statue on the top of a mountain.  It's a tribute to the work of local woman and there support for the resistance during WWII.
Found this wonderful statue on the top of a mountain. It’s a tribute to the work of local woman and there support for the resistance during WWII.

The Zagorohoria is an isolated area in northern Greece. A very mountainous area with 46 tiny villages perched up high on the side of the ridges. Apparently to isolate themselves from the Ottermans many years ago. The villages were joined by stone paths and bridges suitable for walking with donkeys. We spent the next few hours driving from villages of Dilofo to Kipi, then Koukouli, walking over ancient stone bridges and paths. Just in case your not confused yet about 70% of all the towns and villages in the Ioannina area have names starting with a K, then there’s the Ms which account for another 20%.

One of the many bridge we have a wander over today.  You would think they are a thousand years old, but in reality just a couple of hundred years.
One of the many bridge we have a wander over today. You would think they are a thousand years old, but in reality just a couple of hundred years.

 

A triple ! I really think we should have got bonus points for finding this one.
A triple ! I really think we should have got bonus points for finding this one.

 

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A nice couple took this photo of us on the bridge.
A nice couple took this photo of us on the bridge.

 

By mid-afternoon we travel on further into the Northern Pindos National Park to the town of Monodendri. Our plan is to walk the Vikos Gorge tomorrow. The Vikos is apparently the deepest gorge in the world at 900m deep and 12 kilometres from entry to the exit at Vikos. From Bikos we have to arrange a lift back to our camper. We find a free little parking spot and have a nap.

 

Get Directions

 

In the evening we wandered the little laneways of Monodendri until we found a suitable restuarant , roasting veal and chicken on a bed of charcoal. A few Mythos and a carafe of dry white and another campercar day has slipped by.

This is obviously a before photo, we didn't look this good the next day !
This is obviously a before photo, we didn’t look this good after the walk !
Looks interesting but try it after a few beers and a carafe of dry white
Looks interesting but try it after a few beers and a carafe of dry white

Just after 7am we lock up the Hymer and head off to the starting point. The walk to bottom of the gorge is along a path that descends almost 500 metres and takes about 45 minutes. The next 4 hours is a beautiful walk in dabbled shade as we passed through the forest floor. There are some difficult sections but they were fairly short, though not short enough according to Pam. There is a lovely spring at the end, interestingly called the ‘source’, which makes the start of the climb out. A rise of almost 700 metres which took us 80 minutes with lots of short stops. Unfortunate in full sun which didn’t help.

The Vikos from the Monestary.
The Vikos from the Monestary.

 

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Someone didn't make it perhaps ?
Someone didn’t make it perhaps ?

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Negotiating a price for the return journey to Mond
Negotiating a price for the return journey to Monodendri, trying not to look desperate.

Anyway we walked into a little cafe in Vikos tired and sore, but we did it. After some hard negotiation over a Mythos, the sum of โ‚ฌ30 for the 33 kilometre trip back was agreed. 10 minutes later the nephew of someone’s cousin arrives and we are on our way back to the Hymer.

Pam wants to do a little washing and have a long shower so we head back down to Camping Ioannina for the night.

PS: the feature image is a 1957 VW camper, still in showroom condition.

 

michael and Pam

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