Flora and Fauna, Pieria

Olympus National Park

Since 1938, the 3.933 hectares of northern slopes and high peaks of Mt Olympus were declared as the National Park, with the aim of preserving the natural environment of the zone. The flora and fauna are of exceptional beauty and value, and it’s no surprise that holidaymakers, sports fanatics and even scientists come from across the planet to see and enjoy the area. The European Community has included Olympus in the list of “The Most Important Bird areas of the European Community”, and in 1981, UNESCO declared Olympus a “Biosphere Reserve”. Entrance to the National Park is allowed from sunrise to sunset and only while adhering to marked routes. Visitors must keep in mind the following which are prohibited:

  • access to children under 14 without a guide
  • parking outside the designated parking areas
  • cutting down trees, removing soil, collecting bushes, plants or seeds
  • hunting any type of animal in any way, all year round
  • lighting fires and outdoor camping
  • destroying or collecting nests, eggs or hatchlings, distrubing or harming fauna
  • causing damage to geological formations
  • pets without a leash

Olympus Flora

Twenty three rare species of endemic plants, as well as many Alpine – and even a few plants from western Asia – are to be found on the peaks of Mt Olympus.  Amongst the endemic plants found here are Viola striis-notata, Erysimum olympicum, Cerastium theophrastii, Viola pseudograeca, Potentilla deorum, Genista sakellariadis, Campanula oreadum and more, whille the Jankea helreichii species is a particularly interesting species as it is a remnant of the Ice Age.

Other species growing here are rare Balkan plants such as Saxifraga scardica and the Crocus veluchensis, and rare Alpine plants such as Carlina acaulis and Linaria alpina, as well as Asian species such as Omphalodes luciliae.

At a relatively low altitude, there are few shrubs of Mediterranean species and clumps of deciduous and coniferous trees (oaks, oaks, arbutus, heather, maples, elms, cedars and pine species Pinus sp, and fir Abies borissi regis). Near streams one can note the growth of trees, willows, alders and more.

At a slightly higher altitude, in cooler areas, two species of beech prevail (Fagus moesiaca και F. silvatica), while in drier and sunnier areas the black pine (Pinus nigra) grows. The other type is the Olympus pine, robolo (Pinus eldreichii),

Which has formed large forests that reach the verdant subalpine meadows, where the impressive red lily (Lilium clalcedonium) dominates amongst many other flower varieties, such as the genera Astragalus, Berberis, Daphne, Buxus, and Juniperus.

Pieria Mountains

Pieria mountain is a spectacular Macedonian mountain covered in rich vegetation that’s worth visiting throughout the year. It has an altitude of 2,195 and is covered by both deciduous (beech, oak, sycamore, chestnut) and coniferous (pines, firs, pines, bushes) trees. Pieria is a chilly mountain, rich in springs, streams and waterfalls. The landscape is swathed in outstanding natural beauty and of great ecological interest, ideal for a long leisurely hike or even more adventurous pursuits. The standard reference points for visitors here are the two mountain shelters there: that of Ano Milia, at an altitude of 1000m, which is run by the Alpine Club of Katerini; the European Mountaineering Path E4 passes from there, crossing the Pieria Mountains and continuing to Mt Olympus. The other is at Sarakatsana, at an altitude of 1680m, and acts as a stopover for courses that start from the Ritini and the Paliopanayia position.

Enipeas River

Enipeas is the Pierian river, whch runs through all of Litochoro. Its gorge has become widely knownand draws tourists from far and wide. Its source is at the Prionia point, at an altitude of 1000m, and the water temperature is just above zero Celcius, which means bathers with heart or other health problems should take care if they consider bathing in the natural pools that have fomed. The riverside path is actually one of the most favoured journeys to take in Olympus. If walking the nine kilometer path, which starts at Mili in Litochoro, it takes around 5-6 hours to reach Prionia. The journey is damp, extremely scenic and atmospheric.

Many climbers drive up to the Prionia and climb from there to the high mountain peaks.

Orlia Waterfall

Located near Dion, this enchanting natural landmark is in the heart of lush greenery and has a small lake beneath it, under the imposing shadow of Mt Olympus. A wonderful place to hike to and relax or camp out at, especially in summer with a swim in the lake’s crystal waters.   

Wetlands

Three large wetlands stretch across tens of thousands of Pierian stremmata, all of great ecological significance. Visitors are often delighted by the beautiful landscapes and the dazzling colours that emerge from the amalgamation of rare plants and water.

Elos Agathoupolis

The Delta of Aliakmonas covers an area of 40,000 stremmata. A great variety of animas live within the dense vegetation surrounding its banks, such as foxes, jackals, badgers, weasels, hares, wild cat and the European ground squirrel.

The most important life form in this wetland are the birds; some 215 species of birds, which nest, winter or stop here during their migration, have been recorded here. Herons are the most typical amongst these species. Other bird species include egrets, owls, spoonbills and glossy ibis (which are endangered), cormorants, terns, twelve species of ducks, geese, raptors, and more. Two other species of birds that are endangered are the Dalmatian pelican and the curlew.

Also in Aliakmonas there are 33 species of freshwater fish, such as the endemic mafrotsironi (Rutilus Macedonicus), as well as frogs, turtles, water snakes, and the bass, mullet, and eels. The mix of sweet and salty water instigates the growth of shellfish and especially mussels, which in this region accounts for about 90% of total production in Greece.

More than 500 different species of plants adorn the area, with their vibrant colors and aromas. Some of the most characteristic species found here are the sea lily (Pancratium maritimum), the kompochorto (Ephedra distachya), the salvinia (Salvinia natans), and the azole (Azolla filiculoides).

Aliki Kitrous

This remarkable 15,000 acre large lagoon is home to numerous species, including the Pink Flamingo and a large population of Mediterranean turtles, chiefly owing to the food it produces for them.

Sfive kilometers east of Kitrous beach there’s a alinas Beach is a salt production facility that produces up to 40,000 tons per year from March to October. In the area near the salt marsh is a wetland of international importance with rare birds. In the lagoon one can find the sea lily plant (Pancratium maritimum), a specially adapted species, and until 1989 the area was the nestng ground of the Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus), whose numbers have now significantly dropped. Alyki Kitrous is part of the European ecological Natura 2000 network.

Nei Pori

There used to be an environmental wetland at the point of the Papapouli river in Pieria’s Nea Pori called Tethys Park. The wetland was created from the flow of the Papapouli river and the effect of the tides of the sea, forming a network of water pockets in land area, becoming home to numerous species of fish, fauna, birds and reptiles. The ongoing combination of fresh and salt water, together with the region’s environmental conditions, have made the wetland into a food rich ecosystem. 

The flora here includes over 600 species of endemic plants, and the fauna is made up of both migratory birds and from permanent aquatic wading and predatory birds, as well as a significant number of fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. For migrating birds the wetland area is one of the major points in eastern mainland Greece. Especially the fish fauna consists of more than 30 species, many of which with high commercial and nutritional value and some other significant ecological importance. However, the park no longer exists and the ecosystem has sadly degraded. There are controversial plans to build a highway in the area, which could threaten the wetland. At ecotourism-greece.com we hope that priority is given to the ecoystems if the plans go through.

Kremastos Waterfall

Beautiful to look at as well as offering spectacular views once one manages to climb it, this 1000m high waterfall is reached along the path to Sarakatsana. During winter the water flows more abundantly and 30 m of it can be seen tumbling down from as far as Ritini.

Other Activities for Pieria and Mount Olympus
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