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  • Secrets of Epirus - 13 Days

 

“It’s easy to see why the Greeks have been keeping Epirus a secret from the world for so long”
- Caroline Shearing

Epirus. Few words can describe the beauty of this region. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions of Greece, and its lack of human impact is evident in its lush near virgin forests providing safe haven for many endangered species. The regions natural beauty is only met by the charm of its historic cobblestone villages. This region truly is Greece's best kept secret.

We take our time getting from Athens to the beginning of our trek. We spend a whole day exploring Athens by foot, guided by our historian tour guide, we learn about Emperor Hadrians Arch, the temple of Zeus, and a few other famous sites before exploring the Acropolis. We then start our road trip to touch the centre of the universe at the Ancient site of Delphi, stand upon the hallowed ground at Thermopylae, the famous battle site of King Leonidas and his 300 spartans, and enjoy both sunset and sunrise views over the cliff top monasteries of Meteora.

We eventually make it to Zagoria and once we start trekking we will experience some of the most remote and beautiful areas of all of Greece, stay in a mountain refuge, at a remote and secret camp site and enjoy the famous Greek hospitality.

Like any journey, it should not only be pleasing to the eye and soul, but also the stomach! Some of the things that will tantalise your taste buds are traditionally home made wines, jams, bread, milk, cheese, yogurt, cured meats and the regions famous pies. Not to mention chances to get at the famous Greek delicacies, gyros, moussaka, pastitsio, squid, grilled meats and cheeses galore!

HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

  • Explore Greece's ancient sites
  • Delphi, Thermopylae and Meteora
  • Cross the worlds deepest canyon
  • Secret camp site
  • Spend a day Canyoning
  • Visit the 'Dragon Lake'

ITINERARY:

DAY 1: Arrive in Athens. Transfer to hotel, the rest of the day to relax and explore the city sites. Overnight in hotel in Athens.

DAY 2: Our historian will guide you on a walking tour of some of the best sites Athens has to offer. We then drive to Delphi in time for dinner. Overnight in hotel in Delphi

DAY 3: We explore delphi, and then head to Thermopylae for a picnic lunch and a tour of the site. If time permits we'll visit the hot springs then head to Kastraki. Overnight in hotel in Kastraki.

DAY 4: Spend the morning exploring Megalo Meteora and continue our drive to Ioannina for lunch and the old city before heading to the small town of Papigo, the start point of our trek. Overnight in Guesthouse in Papigo.

DAY 5: From Papigo, climb up to Astraka Refuge, then the afternoon walk out to the Dragon Lake and back.  Overnight in refuge.

DAY 6: Day walk to the summit of Gamila peak. Overnight in refuge.

DAY 7: Hike from the refuge off the end of the Astraka plateau and traverse around to the secret camp. Overnight in Camp.

DAY 8: From the Camp we ascend the valley and traverse further before heading out to Vrysochori. Car transfer to Tsepevolo. Overnight at B&B in Tsepevolo Village

DAY 9: Canyoning day! 3-4 hour adventure down the Vikaki canyon* to Kipi village. Overnight at B&B in Kipi.

*choice of canyon will depend on group skills and water levels. This is a non technical experience, ideal for first timers.

DAY 10: Today we cross the Vikos Gorge finishing in the village of Vikos then get transfered back to Papigo. Overnight at guest house in Papigo.

DAY 11: Rest day in Papigo. Walk down to enjoy the natural pool and explore the canyon. Other possible activities include exploring the local towns, an archery session, or a white water rafting day. Overnight at guest house in Papigo.

DAY 12: Transfer to Ioannina for flight back to Athens. Overnight in hotel in Athens

DAY 13: Departure Day, Transfer to Airport for flights home, or make your own way to your onward journey.

DAY 1: Landing in Athens you will be greeted by one of our staff and transferred to our hotel right in the heart of the tourist district of Athens. The rest of the day is yours to rest, and explore. There are a multitude of great restaraunts right outside our hotel, as well as a roof top cafe/bar for light meals in the hotel with a view of the Acropolis!

Accommodation: Hotel in Athens

Meals included: None

 

DAY 2: Today we explore Athens! On foot our historian tour guide will teach you about the history, mystery and architecture of some of Greece's most famous sites. Stops include the Great Library, the Academy, Emperor Hadrian's Arch, the temple of Zeus and a few others before exploring the Acropolis Museum, and the Acropolis itself. After a short rest, we'll depart in the late afternoon and start our road trip by driving to Delphi to spend the night.

Accommodation: Hotel in Delphi

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

DAY 3: We step back in time this morning at the Ancient site of Delphi, believed for many years to be the center of the universe! We'll be guided around this ancient site and also the museum gaining an insight into ancient life through the 3 pillars of society, religion, arts and philosophy and of course sports! We'll then grab some provisions, and head to the famous battle site of Thermopylae where King Leonidas od Sparta and his 300 bodyguards held off the entire Persian army of King Xerxes. Here we are lucky enough to have some inside information about the site, and will be able to explore some of the areas most people don't know about! If time permits, we'll stop at the healing hotsprings then continue to the town of Kastraki, at the base of the cliffs of the Meteora Monasteries. If timings permit, we can head up to the tops of the cliffs and watch the sunlight fade over the spectacular scenery.

Accommodation: Hotel in Kastraki

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

 

DAY 4: An early start, we've got the option to head up to our viewpoint again and watch the sun rise over the cliffs painting them in new colours! After breakfast we'll visit Megalo Meteora, the biggest of the monasteries and gain an insight into the history of these sites and what life living on the famous cliff tops is like. We'll then drive to the lakeside city of Ioannina for a picnic lunch by the lake, and a tour of the ancient city centre. The afternoon sees our drive up to the tiny village of Papigo, where we'll meet our mountain guide, and spend the night in a lovely guesthouse.

Accommodation: Guest house in Papigo

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

 

DAY 5: Today our trek begins in style as we must gain the high plataue from the lowly villages. We ascent a large valley, as the vegitation thins and we emerge above the tree line. Each step higher the views become more and more spectacular. After 2.5-3hrs walk we reach the Astraka Refuge where we'll stop for a rest and lunch. In the afternoon we'll cross the small pass and an opposite rise to visit Drakolimni or the "Dragon Lake". Here we must be carefull as the area is home to many dragons! Back to the refuge for dinner and the night.

Accommodation: Astraka Refuge (dorm room)

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

 

DAY 6: We'll spend another night here tonight so we can lighten the load for our day walk. We'll head out over to the main plataeu of the range, with the objective of the day to reach the summit of Gamila Peak, the highest peak in the area, and the 6th highest in Greece at 2497m. After taking in spectacular views all the way to Albania in the north, and trying to spot our camp for tomorrow night, we'll head back to the refuge for a well earned rest.

Accommodation: Astraka Refuge (dorm room)

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

 

DAY 7: A hearty breakfast prepares us for heading deeper into the national park today venturing to areas the only see the most adventurous of trekkers. We'll launch of the end of the plataeu in a spectacular fashion, and traverse around the base of the great 'north edge' of the Pindus Mountains. Today is our most dificult day in terms of terrain, it is quite evident that these paths see very little use! The scenery is amazing though and we'll likely see many signs of wildlife in the forested areas as Chamiox, bear, pig and deer live safely after hunting was banned in the park. You can also pick some wild mushrooms and the famous herbal 'mountain tea' along the way to enjoy at camp later. Tonight we stay in a tented camp at our secret hut site. We'll enjoy a camp fire and a BBQ while staring up at the north face of Gamila Peak, where we stood just the day before, now nearly 1000m above us!

Accommodation: Secret Camp site

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

 

DAY 8: Another big day today we head up the valley and skirt around the north of the mountains before descending all the way to the small village of Vrysochori. We'll stop here for a celebratory drink and well earned rest before a van transfer to the village of Tsepevolo. 

Accommodation: B&B/Guesthouse in Tsepevolo

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

 

DAY 9: A very relaxing night sets us up well for a change of pace today! We trade in our hiking boots for an old pair of runners, don wetsuits and begin our canyon journey down the Vikaki canyon. This non-technical canyon trip involves some trail and river walking and a little swimming. Taking around 3-4 hours we end up down the canyon at another stunning village. Hot showers and great food and hospitality at another guesthouse in Kipi.

*Note - There are several options for different canyons, allowing us to select the appropriate one at the time due to group abilities and safe water levels. There is also an option to bypass the canyon trip should you not feel confident with it. If weather and river conditions deny passage of the canyon there are plenty of activites we can do this day including via ferrata.

Accommodation: Guest house in Kipoi

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

 

DAY 10: Our last day trekking is a long one. We walk the path along the floor of the Vikos Gorge, from one end to the other! Being the deepest gorge in the world, in ratio to its width, the tall, sheer cliff walls will be sure to impress! From the southern end of the gorge we walk along its floor and visit a small church and swimming hole before ascending the last 45 minutes out to the village of Vikos. Here we'll have a short rest before being transfered to back to Papigo. Dinner is spent out on the town of Papigo where there are several great options, all surrounded by the typical beauty of this historic region.

*For those who wish to extend their walk, it is possible to finish the hike by walking an extra 2.5 hrs all the way up to Papigo, most of this is a long steep climb.

Accommodation: Guest house in Papigo

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch.

 

DAY 11: A well-deserved rest day. Take a stroll down to the natural swimming pools and explore up the small canyon. There are many other activities that can be arranged today, exploring the local towns, archery, or even rafting and rock climbing. (Some additional costs may apply). We finish the day, and our trekking trip with a big banquet at our guesthouse to celebrate a great trip.

Accommodation: Guest house in Papigo

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

 

DAY 12: Departing Papigo, we are driven back down out of the hills to the lakeside town of Ioannina, where we'll catch a flight back to Athens. The rest of the day is yours to explore!

Accommodation: Hotel in Athens

Meals included: Breakfast.

 

DAY 13: Departure Day, if you're flying out today we can arrange an airport transfer for you, or assist in getting you on your way to your onward journey however we can.

Accommodation: N/A

Meals included: Breakfast.

Expedition cost is $3490* twin share, ex Athens, Greece.

*minimum number of bookings required, see Terms and Conditions for full details

COST INCLUDES:

Airport transfers to Hotel in Athens
All accommodation as set out in itinerary
All breakfasts
Meals while while trekking
Domestic airfare from Athens to Ioannina
Private vehicle transfers from Papigo to Ioannina
Private transport and historian guide during tour phase
Qualified and experienced local mountain guide for the duration hike
Canyoning day (or alternative activity) during the trek and special equipment hire (wetsuits)
Transfers of food and camping equipment required for trek
Farewell banquet dinner on the last night in Papigo
All access permits and fees
Registration with commercial air rescue organistaion.

COST EXCLUDES:

Lunch and dinner in Athens and one dinner in Papigo (as in itinerary)
Travel Insurance (compulsory)
International Flights to Athens
Personal clothing and equipment
Additional personal expenses such as alcohol and additional snacks
Tips for guides and porters
Cost raised by cancelation or modification due to events beyond our control, e.g., landslides necessitating trail diversions, weather delays, political unrest, illness, et cetera.

Note the below items can be added at the time of booking.

Contact us for Upcoming Departures
Location: Epirus, Greece
Activity: Trekking,
Duration: 13 Days
Difficulty Rating: Grade 2 - Moderate
Comfort Level: Very comfortable
Season: Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct,