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The Vikos Gorge & the Zagoria villages Page 2

zagori villagesFor those interested in the Vlach village of Samarina in this region (or the Vlach people in general) the Tim Salmon book, 'The Unwritten Places' (Lykavittos Press), is highly recommended. The Vikos River Gorge, which separates the western and central Zagoria villages is a major destination for trekkers in Greece.

It can be walked in one day, but only if one makes it to the trailhead early in the morning. Accomodation is available in the villages of Monodhendri at one end of the trek and in the Papingo villages at the other. The walls of the gorge are nearly 1000 meters in places (3,280 feet), and cut through the limestone tablelands of Mt. Gamila, (Mt. Camel) whose peak is at 2497meters/8190 feet. This gorge walk is the equal of the Samaria walk in Crete. Some caution must be observed, however (as with the Cretan gorge).

part of the gorgeThough there have been improvements in recent years in trail maintenance, mapping and sign posting, one can still go astray and get into trouble. During April/early May, the Monodhendri end can become impassable with snowmelt runoff, and in rainstorms the sides of the gorge can turn to mud, scree and dangerous tree trunks.

Even in better weather, it is strongly recommended that hikers go in groups of four or more (what with desperate refugees possibly encamped in the area, and even armed). A strong stick for dealing with snakes or testy livestock, or for traversing rough ground with loose scree, is an excellent idea. In addition, there are bears, whose population has increased with reforestation and diminished grazing, though the chief danger with bears is in getting between females and their cubs; otherwise they are shy and avoid humans. A specialist guide to the area is recommended, especially if planning to go beyond the gorge area, and it is advised that it be up to date as many older guides and maps have erroneous information.

The most popular approach to the Vikos gorge is begins next to the church of Aghios Athanasios in the Zagori village of Monodhendri. This village, near the south end of the gorge, sits high up on its rim. It is one of the best preserved of the villages in the western Zagoria. Also on the rim of the gorge is the abandoned monastery of Aghia Paraskevi, gotten to by following the kalderimi (cobbled path) from the end of the lower village platia. Past the monastery is Megali Spilia (Big Cave), which is a well-hidden, time honored refuge used by villagers in times of danger. For another, very precipitous view of the entire gorge, follow signs to Oxia (7km by car, maybe a little closer by the marked path).

More The Vikos Gorge - Aoos Gorge - Zagori Villages Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11