Ioannina’s location on the banks of Lake Pamvotida has made even the city a place where bird watchers can catch a glimpse of several species. The areas around the lake and on the small island across are known for types such as the Lesser Kestrel, Scops Owl, Penduline Tit, Little Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant and Whiskered Tern.
Aoos Lake – Tsouka Rosa – Aoos Lake Difficulty: Average Altitude variation – 1350 – 1980 – 1350 m
Duration: 6 hours
This circular trail leads followers past a small section of the beautiful Aoos Lake and continues through the mountains of Tsouka Rosa, where a spotting of wild brown bears or several birds of prey is possible. The route finishes where it started at Lake Aoos and is signposted as P4.
Kapesovo – Beloi Difficulty: Average Altitude variation: 900 – 1500 m Duration: 3 hours
Short and steep best describe the route beginning in the village of Kapesovo and taking walkers alongside the top of the Vikos Gorge. Your efforts will be rewarded at the endpoint of Beloi that offers spectacular views from its lookout point of the Vikos Gorge. Hikers are also likely to spot some majestic species of large birds of prey along their journey.
Palioseli – Smolikas Difficulty: Average Duration: 4 hours
From the village of Palioseli, hikers will continue for a half hour on the path marked “Drakolimnes” until they reach the mountain refuge. From there it’s an uphill hike of two hours to Greece’s second highest mountain and the alpine lake.
The Aoos Gorge is smaller than Vikos Gorge but it still offers bird watchers some great opportunities for spotting large raptors. Aoos Gorge is navigable by foot, and those who walk through it are much more likely to spot one of the many species of eagles, hawks and vultures that inhabit the area.
Housed in the former village school, today the Carpet Craft School of Delvinaki is keeping the local textile tradition alive and well, offering lessons and employment to the residents. Housed in the former village school, today the Carpet Craft School of Delvinaki is keeping the local textile tradition alive and well, offering lessons and employment to the residents of the area as well as selling its fine products to customers all over the world. Visitors to the village have the opportunity to purchase hand-made rugs and other crafts.
The spectacular Vikos Gorge is an area of mesmerising beauty and bird watchers will most likely encounter several raptors throughout. There are several lookout points that allow observers to watch without actually descending into the gorge. The best is that at Oxia, which overlooks the deepest section of the gorge. It lies just 3 kilometres outside the village of Monodendri. However, there’s no denying that bird watchers who make the trip through the gorge will be rewarded with viewing various raptors as well as many endangered species of birds.
Founded in memory of two of the wealthiest patrons of the Zagorohoria Manthos and Giorgios Rizaris, this school offers free lessons in several subjects to local girls aged 14 -20. Here, students can learn weaving, hand and machine sewing and tapestry as well as home economics, foreign languages and physical education. Products from the school can be purchased from the tapestry shop in the central square of Monodendri, where visitors can also watch the process of rug-weaving.
Sistrouni – Souli Difficulty: Average Altitude variation: 500 – 600 m Duration: 4 hours
Hikers following this route will begin in the village of Souli, known for its strong resistance and fighting against the Turks during the Greek War of Independence. The path continues through the foothills of Mt. Souli and walkers may catch a glimpse of one of the few herds of wild, free ranging horses in the region. The trail passes the remains of an ancient acropolis dating back to the 4th century BC, just outside the village of Sistrouni.
Much smaller in comparison with neighbouring Vikos Gorge, this canyon has been cut by the Aoos River from where it gets its name. Unlike the Voidomatis River which flows only seasonally through a small section of the Vikos Gorge, the Aoos River has a steady flow throughout the year and runs through the entire Aoos Gorge. Additionally, the river is surrounded by thick vegetation, providing an enchanted walk for those who wish to partake in canyoning through the river.
One of the most impressive caves in Europe and the second largest in Greece is the Cave of Peramatos located 4 kilometres from the city of Ioannina. It was accidentally discovered by locals who were searching for a hiding place from the Nazis in 1940. Speleologists later made a detailed exploration into the cave and discovered some of the most spectacular examples of stalactites and stalagmites throughout Greece.
This large and fascinating cave was only discovered about fifty years earlier when 2 local men were asked to investigate what seemed to be air flowing out of a hole in the ground on the outskirts of Pramanta village. (Anemotripa means “wind hole” in Greek.) What they discovered was an extensive cave system including underground rivers and lakes, waterfalls, and impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Today the cave has been divided into three sections. The upper section is the oldest but due to its ceiling having partially collapsed; it remains closed to the public. The other two sections offer intriguing paths that snake their way through the wonders of the cave. A snack bar offers concessions at the entrance to the cave where tickets are sold. The cave lies just outside the village of Pramanta in the south east corner of the prefecture.
As the Guinness world record holder as the deepest gorge, the Vikos Gorge belongs on every walker’s itinerary. Due to its relatively untouched natural habitat, the gorge is an area of great interest for researchers, and explorers will have the opportunity to witness several plant and animal species that cannot be found elsewhere. The route is relatively easy and takes most walkers between 5-6 hours to complete. There is a pathway leading down to the gorge just outside of the village of Monodendri. From there, walkers have the option of continuing north, passing the springs of the Voidomatis River and ends at the village of Papingo. The other option is to head south until reaching the stone bridge of Kipi. Whichever route you choose, canyoning through the Vikos Gorge is an experience not to be missed!