Easternmost Greek Macedonia and Greek Thrace

Central Rhodopi area/ Zagradenia and Tsikhla forests

Rhodopi Mts Eastern ThraceA vast wild forested mountain area that sees few visitors, and which has no well-defined boundaries, is this part of the Rhodope range, which is on the border between Greece and Bulgaria, with its highest point at 2000 meters (6560 feet), though there are no major peaks as such.

The Zagradenia Forest found in the northwestern part of this greater area is a virgin forest of some 1359 acres (550 hectares) with beech, a species of fir, and Norway spruce. It is called virgin forest because there are protected areas within it that have ancient trees.

Rare flowers are among the many found in the forest clearings. Near the protected Tsikhla forest to the southwest (Near Mt. Haindhou) are yet other flowers, including the Rhodopi lily, with lemon colored flowers, found only in these mountains. There are other special flowers found, some of them quite recently, in this scarcely- explored area. Of the small number of brown bears found in Greece (estimated a few years ago at around 100-120) this is one of their better habitats, contiguous with the larger bear population in Bulgaria (a good case in point for the fact that political boundaries are meaningless in biological and ecological terms).

roe deerThere are also wolves, red squirrels, wild boar and roe deer in this area, as well as many birds, including some birds of prey. It is believed that pygmy owls, which have been recorded here, also breed here, in the only site where they have been seen in Greece. Butterflies are also plentiful in most of this area, and are quite varied. This wild area requires some effort to get to, but an effort that will be amply rewarded. From Paranesti there are some roads that pass through Thermia; there are also roads from Neohori, to the west of Stavroupoli.