Zagoriya’s magical stone villages are the perfect place to take a break from the British way of life. Zagoriya has remained unchanged for the last 1,000 years, with intoxicatingly clear air, local food harvested in a land of wild herbs and fresh goat cheeses, and residents who welcome us with the easy smiles of people living in paradise.
This is a unique trip, with little car travel and very easy hiking besides one challenging day. We will stroll among wildflowers, clear turquoise springs and ancient pine trees. We will cross streams on 1,000-year-old stone bridges and spot wild horses on the high slopes of Astraka. At Dragon Lake, perched at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level, we will gaze out on the horizon and see the snowy mountains of Albania in the distance.
We will catch a morning flight from London to Thessaloniki. Take the fast route to Zagory, we’ll sit for lunch on the edge of Ioannina magical lake. We’ll then take a short tour of the city, visit the grave of Ali Pasha, the Ottoman governor of the city in the 19th century. A short half-hour drive places already deep in the heart of Zagoria. We’ll freshen up at our hotel and then set out for a brief afternoon walk to an amazing viewpoint over the mighty Vikos Canyon . In the evening, we’ll enjoy an authentic Greek meal under a chestnut canopy in the center of the village.
We will descend into the Vikos Gorge, and at the bottom find the amazing Wildomatis springs. The water is clear and inviting, but ice cold, so we’ll fill our water bottles and climb to the north bank of the gorge. From there, we’ll continue to the two most beautiful villages in Greece: Papingo and Micro Papingo, where we’ll spend the night in a beautiful stone hotel.
We’ll spend the morning taking a short walk along the Wildomatis River, strolling among the 500-year-old pines. We’ll follow the winding turquoise river, with Zagoriya’s signature arching stone bridges criss-crossing the clear waters. After lunch and a nice rest, donkeys will arrive to help us with our baggage and equipment, and anyone who may also ride them part of the way to our cabin at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level. On our way up, we will leave the Mediterranean landscape behind and enter the Alpine region, observing dramatic changes in the vegetation and the topography. Will pass over rolling hills with snow still left over from the last winter and gaze out at the lights of the village far below us.
We awake in the cabin to a misty morning surrounded by snowy peaks. Shouldering our backpacks, we’ll hike out to a solitary “dragon lake” at a height of 2,200 meters above sea level. This peculiar lake of folk legend perches on the edge of a huge cliff overlooking the impressive Haos canyon. This is the best place We’ll rest a little around Dragon Lake and then head back to the cabin for lunch. A two-hour downhill stroll will land us back in Papingo and our wonderful stone hotel. Evening will find us topping off an amazing day with dinner at a traditional Greek taverna.
We’ll wind up our journey with a day of rest and relaxation, bathing in a series of stone pools right next to our hotel, or taking a short walk through the quaint village to purchase souvenirs. Around mid-afternoon, we’ll head out to Ioannina for a farewell dinner and our flight back home.
Large and comfortable car for 9 people for the trip’s duration.
Meals are usually eaten in family-run taverns. Usually, the grandmother cooks, the mother picks the produce in the mountains nearby, and the granddaughter is the hostess. Breakfasts will be at our hotel.
3 nights in a beautiful, warm, family-run hotel, and one night in a cabin on a mountain top with sleeping conditions similar to a hostel.