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Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos, walking holiday in greece, hiking in Zagori

The Natural Adventure Company | Walking Holidays in Europe

Self Guided Walking Holidays in Europe

Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos

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Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos, walking holiday in greece, hiking in Zagori
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Average rating:   0,  0 reviews
Country
Greece
Activity type
Self Guided Walking
Duration
7 days & 6 nights
Difficulty
Moderate
Accomodation
Various
Availability
May - October

Itinerary

Day 1: Kapesovo
Day 2: Kapesovo
Day 3: Papigo
Day 4: Dragon Lake
Day 5: Papigo
Day 6: Vikos
Day 7: Departure

Overview for Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos

The Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos is among our most popular walking holidays in Greece. Walk through the impressive Vikos Gorge and hike by the Voiodomatis’ springs, which is considered one of the cleanest rivers in Europe. Reach the alpine zone up to the famous Dragon Lake and enjoy the spectacular views of the Vikos Canyon, then descend down the famous cobbled path of Scala Vradetou, built in the 18th century.

The Pindos (also Pindus or Pindhos; Greek: Πίνδος) mountain range is located in northern Greece and southern Albania. It is roughly 160 km long, with a maximum elevation of 2,637 m (Mount Smolikas). Because it runs along the border of Thessaly and Epirus, the Pindus range is often called the “spine of Greece”. The mountain range stretches from near the Greek-Albanian borders in Northern Epirus, entering the Epirus region and Macedonia region in northern Greece down to the north of the Peloponnese. Geologically it constitutes an extension of the Dinaric Alps, which dominate the western region of the Balkan Peninsula. This vast complex of mountains, peaks, plateaus, valleys and gorges traverses the Greek mainland from the Northwest to the Southeast.

Besides the imposing mountainous terrain of the range, one of the most magnificent gorges in Europe is located in the area: the Vikos Gorge, world’s deepest canyon according to the Guinness Book of Records. Together with the mountain valley of Valia Kalda it has been declared protected region and is part of the National Park of Northern Pindos. Furthermore, many mountain villages with a long history and unique architecture are located throughout the range.

The Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos is among our most popular walking holidays in Greece. Walk through the impressive Vikos Gorge and hike by the Voiodomatis’ springs, which is considered one of the cleanest rivers in Europe. Reach the alpine zone up to the famous Dragon Lake and enjoy the spectacular views of the Vikos Canyon, then descend down the famous cobbled path of Scala Vradetou, built in the 18th century.

The trip includes some of the most beautiful stone villages and bridges in Zagori. Retreat every evening in elegant hand-picked stone mansions in the traditional villages along the route.

Highlights:

  • Vikos Gorge
  • Dragon Lake
  • Scala Vradetou
  • Stone Bridges of Zagori


Itinerary for Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos

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Day 1: Kapesovo – Skala Vradetou – Beloi – Kapesovo

Your holiday starts in Kapesovo. It is easily reachable from the city Ioannina (by public transport or we can organise a private transfer; we can also book extra nights in Ioannina for you before or after the holiday). Check-in. Then start today’s walk by ascending the cobbled stone path – Scala Vradetou – to Vradetou village. From there hike to the breathtaking Beloi viewpoint and walk back to Vradetou for a coffee break or refreshment and then take the path downhill back to Kapesovo.

  • Walking for the day:  12 km, 4-5h ↑600m ↓600m
  • Accommodation: a 3-star quality guesthouse in Kapesovo

Day 2: Kapesovo – Kipi – Dilofo – Vitsa – Koukouli – Kapesovo

Todays’ circular walk will take you through several picturesque stone villages to the traditional village of Koukouli and its beautiful square for a short break. From there through a forest walk back down to Kapesovo.

  • Walking for the day:  17 km, 7h ↑700m ↓700m
  • Accommodation: a 3-star quality guesthouse in Kapesovo

Day 3: The Vikos Gorge: Kapesovo – Megalo Papigo

The main course of your holiday: a picturesque walk in the heart of the VIkos Gorge, covering its entire length from Kapesovo to Megalo Papigo.

  • Walking for the day:  17 km, 7h ↑600m ↓750m
  • Accommodation: a 3-star quality guesthouse in Papigo

Day 4: Megalo Papigo – Dragon Lake

A quite demanding trek with steep uphills and downhills, but also with astonishing views of Tymfi mountain. The is partially in the alpine zone commencing from 1,000m altitude and ending at 2,100m where the beautiful Dragon Lake is situated. You will spend the night at the Astraka Refuge at an altitude of 1,930m.

  • Walking for the day:  13 km, 7-8h ↑1,300m ↓350m
  • Accommodation: Astraka Refuge (dormitory rooms, shared facilities!)

Day 5: Astraka Refuge – Micro Papigo – Red Rock – Megalo Papigo

Today’s walk is mostly downhill, bringing you to the impressive Red Rock and then back to Papigo.

  • Walking for the day:  12 km, 5h ↑200m ↓1,100m
  • Accommodation: a 3-star quality guesthouse in Papigo

Day 6: The Stone Bridges Walk or Optional Voidomatis River Rafting

Today you have two alternatives, depending on your preferences:

  • Option 1: Walk from Vikos to the beautiful Kleidonia stone bridge.
  • Option 2: Whitewater rafting in Voidomatis river (not included, Euro 25 pp local payment)
  • Walking for the day: 8 km, 3h ↑50m ↓400m (option 1) or 3 km, 1h (option 2)
  • Accommodation: a 3-star quality guesthouse

Day 7: Departure or Onward Travel

Morning optional private transfer to Ioannina or you can use public transport. We can also book extra nights for you in the beautiful city of Ioannina.

Hotels for Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos

Go to top of page 3-star quality guesthouses (stone mansions) in the mountains and one overnight in the Astraka mountain refuge. All accommodations have private double/twin rooms. Accommodation in Astraka Refuge is in dormitory rooms with shared facilities. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Sample hotels: Villa Zagori, Megalo Papigo, Ioannina (not included, can be booked as an extension), Astraka Refuge, Kapesovo

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at your hotel or at restaurants and taverns in the village. Meals can be ordered at Astraka Refuge, too.

Travel for Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos

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Our recommended arrival airports are Thessalonica and Preveza which are well connected to the major UK and European airports. Ioannina is also well connected to other airports in Greece by internal flights. Please insert your preferred airport in the “To” field below to see the available flights from your location.

Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking. 

Transfers to/from Airports

Day 1- From Thessaloniki Airport

  • Advised latest flight arrival time: 13:00
  • From the airport take a taxi to the bus station of Thessaloniki (45 minutes)
  • Take the bus to Ioannina (3.5 hours)
  • From the bus station take a taxi to the hotel in Kapesovo (40 minutes)

Day 8 – From Vikos hotel to Thessaloniki Airport

Our recommendation is to book a private transfer with us from your last hotel to Ioannina, as it is less expensive than taxi services. From Ioannina continue by public transport to your departure airport, or book an extra night in Ioannina.

  • Advised earliest flight departure time: 16:00
  • Take taxi (or book a private transfer) from the hotel to Ioannina bus station (30 minutes)
  • Take a bus to Thessaloniki (3.5 hours)
  • From Thessaloniki bus station take a taxi to Thessaloniki Airport (45 minutes)



Private Transfers

On arrival and departure day, private transfers can be arranged from/to Ioannina at an extra cost (£60 per car, up to 4 people).

Baggage Transfers

Baggage transfer is included and your bags will be transferred by your current hotel (or by private transfer) to your next hotel, with the exception of Astraka Refuge which is not accessible by car. So for the Dragon Lake walk please bring your essentials for the walk and the overnight, preferably in a small rucksack (15 – 25 l). Your main luggage will stay in Papigo.

Country Info

Timezone: GMT +2

Language: Greek. In big cities, many people speak English, but in remote areas, this might not be the case. However, most of the hotel personnel where we stay speak English and are ready to help you. Road signs/markers are normally in both Greek and Latin alphabet – and you can always call our 24/7 helpline if there are any problems.

Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50Hz, two-pin round plugs.

Currency: Euro (€). We strongly advise taking adequate cash for your daily requirements. Banks and ATMs are not available outside of Ioannina but credit/debit card payments are accepted in most places.

Cost of living: in Greece is cheaper than in the UK. Some sample prices follow:

  • A 3-course meal in a standard restaurant: 12€
  • A litre of mineral water from a street shop: 1€
  • A cup of coffee: 2.5€

Up-to-date travel advice on Greece is available here.

Detailed up-to-date travel information and hints will be provided in your holiday information pack.

Trip Info for Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos

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Difficulty Grade: Moderate

This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers (no high mountain experience required) and requires a good level of fitness. Average walking is 13 km (6 hours) per walking day. Average elevation gain is 600 m per walking day (read more about difficulty grades).

Route Navigation

We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to Go

This trip is available between May and October.

The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking

Weather

The climate in Zagori is Mediterranean continental with an average of 100 days of sunshine in the May-September period. It is influenced by the mountain range of Pindos and spring and autumn are pleasant with cool nights and occasional rain. Depending on location and altitude, temperatures vary, but generally, in the May-September period, the daily averages are 15 –25C. High summer daytime temperatures are rarely too hot as even though temperatures can occasionally reach 30C. Summer nights are quite cool and pleasant.

What to Bring

We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing not more than 20 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.

  • Good hiking boots
  • Hiking socks
  • Several t-shirts (cotton or preferably breathable/fast drying)
  • Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
  • Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
  • Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
  • Hat/Baseball cap
  • Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)

Included for Vikos Gorge and the High Trails of Pindos

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  • GPS tracks, topo maps and detailed instruction by our local guide on arrival
  • 5 nights in quality small hotels or guesthouses (private rooms with en-suite facilities)
  • 1 night in a mountain refuge (dormitory rooms, shared facilities)
  • 6 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days, excluding Day 4 (your main luggage will stay in Papigo as Atstraka Refuge is not accessible by car)
  • All car transfers on walking days where necessary
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office in Zagori

Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements

  •  Where solo travellers or individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable as costs are not shared.

Excluded

  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches and dinners
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the program

Extensions and Optional Extras

  • One extra night in Ioannina before or after the holiday
  • Private arrival and departure transfers from/to Ioannina
  • Rafting on Voidomatis River on Day 6 (Euro 25 pp, local payment)

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