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Northwestern Greece Experience

Northwestern Greece Experience – Tour Overview

A UNESCO world heritage site, boasting the deepest gorge in the world, home to an ecosystem unique to Greece and renowned for their hospitable mountain villages of incredible architecture and vibrant history, the Epirus region is the ultimate active traveler’s destinations in the country. The Vikos Aoos and Tzoumerka National Parks, one of the most impressive mountain destinations of Southern Europe, a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, provide us with various outdoor opportunities and are the perfect places to lay back and unwind in an amazing natural setting after a long day of exploration. On our Adventure tour we use the scenic village of Megalo Papingo in Zagori as our base. From there, we set out to go hiking, horseback riding on beautiful mountain trails, river trekking and rafting down the impressive Voidomatis and Arachthos rivers, rappelling in one of Tzoumerka National Park’s most scenic river gorges, all while exploring the picturesque mountain villages of North Western Greece.

Tour Highlights

  • Experience the rich culture and millennia spanning history of Thessaloniki
  • Hike along numerous mountain trails in the Vikos Aoos National Park
  • Have an amazing trekking experience, crossing the World’s deepest gorge, Vikos
  • River trek by the crystal clear waters of the Voidomatis river
  • Unwind in one of the National Park’s natural swimming pools
  • Enjoy the delicious local cuisine of the Zagori and Tzoumerka villages
  • Walk around a 15th century castle in the city of Ioannina
  • Paddle down the crystal clear waters of the Voidomatis and Arachthos rivers
  • Explore the valleys around Papingo on horseback
  • Rappel in one of the most beautiful river gorges of Tzoumerka National Park
  • Have a guided walking tour of the gravity defying ancient monasteries of Meteora.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival at Thessaloniki

On the first day of your trip, you arrive at the Macedonia International Airport of Thessaloniki. A transfer from the airport to Anatolia 4* Hotel in downtown Thessaloniki is arranged for you. Upon arrival, depending on your flight, you may choose to explore the sights of the second largest city in Greece. The impressive White Tower, the city’s most iconic landmark, along with the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine church of Agios Demetrios, Rotunda and the Roman Forum, are all located conveniently within a minute’s walk from one another. For those of you who want to get a first culinary taste of Northern Greece, the nearby neighborhood of Ladadika is bustling with traditional tavernas and is popular year round.

Overnight: Anatolia 4* Hotel in the center of Thessaloniki

Day 2

ThessalonikiIoanninaMegalo Papingo

After a hearty breakfast, you get the chance to immerse yourself further into the history and

culture of Thessaloniki. A morning walking tour is arranged for you. Our walking tour leaders will guide you through the main archaeological sites and areas of cultural interest. Starting from the Hellenistic and Roman periods and eventually reaching the 19th and 20th centuries, you will visit glorious monuments, many of them UNESCO world heritage sites, and places where human activity has built the city’s unique cultural identity. In the afternoon you leave Thessaloniki for the great outdoors and your adventure begins. Driving west along the “Egnatia” national highway it’s a 3 hours drive to reach the historic city of Ioannina, Western Greece’s largest city. A place with rich history, an important financial and cultural hub in Byzantine times and the center of the Greek Enlightenment during the Ottoman Period, the city is built on the hills around lake Pamvotis. Here you may allow some time to stretch your legs by the lake and walk around the 15th century castle of Ioannina, the city’s fortified old town. From there it is an hours drive to the mountain village of Megalo Papingo in the area of Zagori, which is going to be your base for the rest of the week.

Total Driving time: 4 hours

Total Walking tour time in Thessaloniki: 3 hours

Overnight: Pantheon guesthouse in Megalo Papingo

Meals: Breakfast

 Day 3

Water RaftingHorseback RidingRiver trekking in Voidomatis River

This day is dedicated to river rafting, horseback riding and hiking. After breakfast, we gear up, grab our paddles and board the boats. We spend the next 23 hours going down the turquoise waters of the Voidomatis river, passing through an amazing landscape of diverse tree species. About halfway through, we leave our boats for a while to do a short hike to the small Byzantine church of Agioi Anargyroi. The Kleidonia stone bridge marks the end of our river adventure. Once there, we have a midday break by the river banks and head back to Megalo Papingo. Depending on the water levels, we have the opportunity to river trek back to the rafting starting point. Early evening, we saddle up and explore the green valleys and slopes around our base on horseback. For the next few hours we gallop through stunningly beautiful landscapes, guiding our horses through mountain trails.

Total hiking time: 2 hours / T otal river rafting time : 23 hours / T otal horseback riding

time: 12 hours

Overnight stay: Traditional Guesthouse in Megalo Papingo

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch

 Day 4

Exploring the Zagori Villages

This day is dedicated to getting to know the scenic traditional mountain settlements that have survived for centuries in this part of the country. Villages full of history, unique architecture and distinct, yet delicious, local cuisine, abound on both sides of the gorge. An hour drive through the National Park takes us to the eastern mouth of the Vikos gorge and the village of Monodendri, where we enjoy magnificent morning views of the gorge from the Oxia lookout point. From there, we head towards the village of Kipi, where we have a chance to admire and walk across the stone arch bridges of Plakida, Kokori and Misiou, built centuries ago by exceptionally skilled local stonemasons. Our next destination is the village of Vradeto, where a short hike to the top of the gorge brings us to a natural balcony overlooking the valley within the gorge. There, we have plenty of time to unwind at an altitude of over 1600m, before we head back to our Guesthouse.

Total hiking time: 2.5-3 hours

Overnight stay: Traditional Guesthouse in Megalo Papingo

Meals: Breakfast

 Day 5

Crossing the world’s deepest gorge, Vikos

This day presents you with a chance to trek through the World’s deepest gorge as listed by the

Guinness Book of Records. The trek through the Vikos canyon is a highlight of any trip to this part of Greece and an amazing experience for nature enthusiasts. Early in the morning our trekking guides will drive you to the village of Monodendri. There you will buy some snacks for the trek and start walking down the path to the canyon’s base. Crossing the gorge is a 5 to 6 hour trek, walking along the banks of one of the Voidomatis River tributaries. Under the shadow of Vikos’s steep cliffs you will have a short break for an energy snack, before you continue trekking towards the springs of the Voidomatis river. Voidomatis is one of the cleanest rivers in Europe and its water is potable. From there you will head up, towards the village of Vikos or back to Megalo Papingo, depending on the route your trekking guide will choose to take. Upon arrival at your base, you may spend your evening to take a rest after a long day of hiking at one of the natural swimming pools of Rogovo.

Total hiking time : 5-6 hours

Overnight: Pantheon guesthouse in Megalo Papingo

Meals: Breakfast, picnic

 Day 6

Tzoumerka National Park

Early morning we leave Papingo behind and head south towards the Tzoumerka National Park, a place of amazing landscapes, unique flora and fauna and relatively unexplored when it comes to tourism. Here you will experience rural Greece at its finest as well as one of the best rafting routes in Greece! There are waterfalls, caves, gorges and canyons as well as hike trails with varying scales of difficulty, enough to keep everyone excited. We have two options when it comes to outdoor activities. We can go water rafting down the Arachthos river or go canyoning in one of Tzoumerka beautiful waterfall gorges. After our picnic lunch by the river banks, we visit the village of Syrrako, a protected 16th century settlement up in the ountains, that is renowned for its traditional Epirotic architecture and aristocratic history. From the village of Syrrako our route by the banks of river Kalarritikos, takes us to the traditional village of Kalarites and the isolated 13th century Monastery of Kipina, that is hanging from an almost vertical cliff.

Total rafting time: 2-3hours

Total canyoning time: 3 hours

Overnight stay: Xenion Guesthouse in Tzoumerka National Park

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch

 Day 7

Meteora Monasteries

Leaving Tzoumerka behind on the last day of your trip, the downhill drive towards Central Greece passes through heavily forested areas and green valleys, leading you eventually to a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the highlights of every trip to Greece: The gravity defying Orthodox Monasteries of Meteora. The name Meteora, which translates into ‘suspended in the air’, is given to the only 6 surviving 14th century monasteries, built on the tops of unique rocky cliffs. A local guide will take you on a hiking tour, an opportunity for you to learn more about the history of one of the most striking natural and cultural sites in Southern Europe. Today you will spend your night at the village of Kastraki, in the foothills of Meteora and the shadows of the high cliffs.

Total walking tour time: 1,5 hours

Overnight: Meteoritis 3* hotel in Kastraki

Meals: Breakfast

 Day 8

Departure from Thessaloniki

After Breakfast you will check out from your hotel and drive back to the airport of Thessaloniki for your flight.

Important tips

  • Travel Bite date and/or time might be modified or cancelled due to weather conditions and in this event the option of an alternative date or full refund will be given.
  • Drivers need to be at least 21 years old, have their international driver’s license with them and show it prior to departure.
  • Camping equipment is provided by supplier but you need to have a sleeping bag with you for the night you spend at the camp.


Tips & Useful Info

Starting point: Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece
Languages: English, Greek
Included Amenities: Accommodation: 1 night at Anatolia 4* Hotel (Thessaloniki), 4 nights at Pantheon guesthouse (Megalo Papingo), 1 night at Xenion Guesthouse, 1 night at Meteoritis 3* Hotel (Meteora), Meals/Drinks: All Breakfasts, Picnics (Days 3,5,6), 1 Dinner (Day 1), Transport: Economy class car rental costs, Opel Corsa, Toyota Yaris or similar (for 2 persons), Compact class car rental costs, Opel Astra or Similar (for 3-4 persons), Mercedes Vito or similar (for 5-7 persons), Airport transfers, Tour Staff: Tour Leader, ), Mountain trekking guides, River rafting guides, Local Guides in Thessaloniki and Meteora, Tour Activities: All outdoor activities, necessary equipment and guided tours as listed in the tour itinerary, Route Notes/Instruction Set
Excluded Amenities: Airline tickets, Fuel costs, Tolls costs, Personal expenses, Travel insurance, GPS (optional when you pick up the car), Entrance fees to archaeological sites to be paid on spot
Minimum number of guests needed: 4
Maximum number of guests: 14
Physical Level: Difficult. Previous experience is not required. Advance level of fitness is highly recommended but not required for travel bite enjoyment.

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