Believe it or not Greece is primarily a mountainous country with more than 800 larger or smaller mountains, 53 of them with altitude exceeding the 2000m zone. The mountains, which served as natural barriers and boundaries, dictated the character of the country and have always played an important role in the life of Greeks, who incorporated them in their myths and legends as sacred places full of spiritual energy. They become "peaks of identity", tangible and towering symbolic landscapes representing a distinctive set of community and cultural ideals.
Our trip starts in Athens and the next day we drive to Litochoro, the village at the base of Mt Olympus. On the list of iconic mountains of the world, Mount Olympus surely has a place. Not only is it a geographically impressive peak, rising straight from the Aegean Sea to a height of 2,918 m, but it's also one of great mythological importance. We will spend three days hiking in the mountain wilderness with a benefit of a bed, hot food and good company. Next, we head towards Zagoria one of the most intriguing regions of Northern Greece, and on the way we will visit Vergina, the royal burial site and the first capital of the Macedonian dynasty. From there we drive to Monodendri, and for the next three days we will hike the trails that connect the bucolic villages of Zagoria. Before heading to Athens for the farewell dinner, we will stop at Ioannina and wander in the cobblestone alleys of the old town.
Climb Mt Olympus, Greece's highest mountain, and the legendary abode of the gods
Follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great at Vergina, the ancient first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia
Get away from it all while hiking through the imposing Vikos gorge in Zagoria
Wake up to the quietness our mountain refugees offer, and savor a few moments over a steaming cup of coffee as the dew dries and steams in the morning sun
Dates:September 8-September 17
Days/Nights: 10 days / 9 nights
Price: 4 participants: 1565 euros/Person
For less participants please contact us
Single supplement: Cost based on request. Availability limited.
Condition grading: Moderate to Strenuous
Arrival in Athens and welcome dinner
Athens today is a busy Metropolis but it is well-known that the city was the intellectual beacon of the ancient world. The heart of the city is the Acropolis, the most important site in the Western world and as you wander in the surrounding neighborhoods, you have the sense that you walk in the footsteps of the great minds that created democracy, philosophy, theater and more.
Tonight we'll have a welcome briefing at 6pm to discuss the trip, followed by a walk in Plaka, one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city, and a festive welcome dinner.
Overnight in Athens, Philippos (D)
Drive to Litochoro and hike to Spilios Agapitos
Let's work off that moussaka with a hike up to the most monumental of the Greek mountains - Mount Olympus. Known in Greek Mythology as the home to the Twelve Olympian gods, it is the highest mountain in Greece and owing to its specific microclimate, which is partly due to the short distance from the sea and the steep increase in height above sea level, it stands out for its great diversity in terrain, climate and vegetation.
After driving to Litochoro and having a light lunch, we will start the ascent from the trailhead of Prionia, towards one of its refuges Spilios Agapitos, a well-run hut with superb views perched on a ledge behind an outcrop, where are we going to spend the night.
Skolio, the second highest peak of Mt Olympus at 2911m. On the way Balkan Chamois could be seen high up among the broken crags, and magnificent birds of prey circling on the thermals. When we reach the top we will be rewarded by an outstanding panorama as we crest the ridge and discover the 500m cliffs of the Kazania chasm. Depending on the team skills and the weather conditions we can also climb Mytikas, a more technical summit at 2,918m, and once the Gods' meeting place.
We will conclude our hike at the beautiful Plateau of the Muses, a rolling grassland surrounded by cliffs above and below and dwarfed by the extraordinary formation of Stefani, the throne of Zeus.
Mt Olympus area is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with four distinct vegetation zones hugely rich in flora, with 17,000 recorded plants, as well as a varied animal population. Today we will experience that, as we hike the well-maintained path from the Plateau of the Muses back to Prionia through beautiful forests of pine and beech. From there we drive towards Litochoro, a cheerful town at the foot of the dramatic Enipeas Gorge in the base of the mountain.
In the afternoon we can go for a refreshing dip at the nearby beach of Plaka and in the evening our Mt Olympus adventure will culminate with a festive dinner in one of the traditional restaurants of the town.
Overnight in Litochoro, To Palio Litochoro (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 11km / Hiking Duration: 4 hours
Prionia to Litochoro 18km / 25min
Visit the archaeological site of Vergina and drive to Monodendri
On our way to Zagoria westop at the awe-aspiring Macedonian tombs of Vergina. We visit the monumental palace, lavishly decorated with mosaics and painted stuccoes, and the burial ground with more than 300 tumuli, some of which date from the 11th century B.C.
After lunch we will head towards Monodendri, one of the prettiest villages of Zagoria, which in Slav means a location behind and beyond the mountains. It is a complex of 46 picturesque traditional villages built in a magical setting amidst pine and fir trees with a unique traditional architecture, impressive stone mansions, water fountains and bridges. Tourism has developed slowly and organically here, with strict regulation reining in excess and eyesores
Overnight in Monodendri, Archontiko Zarkada (B,L,D)
Litochoro to Vergina 76km / 1h 30min
Vegina to Monodendri 232km / 3 hours
Hike through Vikos gorge from Monodendri to Mikro Papigo
Forget Grand Canyon, the Vikos Gorge is the deepest worldwide. At least as impressive, as the famous American, but certainly very much greener and surrounded by monasteries, small villages, rivers and past history. Due to its geological isolation and the absence of human presence, this part of Greece hasn`t changed in hundreds of years, in fact the modern world seems to have passed it by.
Today we start from Monodendri and we will hike first to Voidomatis springs and from there to the village of Mikro Papigo, a stunning village perched on the mountainside where all the houses are made of stone and are topped with slate roofs.
Overnight in Mikro Papigo, Dias Guesthouse (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 16km / Hiking Duration: 7 hours
Hike from Mikro Papigo to the Dragon Lake
In one of the most beautiful alpine areas of the country, on the edge of a plateau on the mountain of Tymfi, there is probably the most fascinating Dragonlake in Greece, created 10,000 years ago due to the melting of the glacier.
The hike to the lake starts from Mikro Papigo and after a steep ascent to Astraka refuge, we stop for lunch with stunning views to the surrounding mountains. From the hut we set off for a beautiful serene hike on a path that climbs steadily towards the Dragonlake. The lake itself sits at an altitude of 2,050m, and is a fantastic manifestation of geological history and current processes of nature.
Hike from Astraka refuge to Tymfi summit and from there to Tsepelovo
Today is a day for soaking up the pure pleasures of being in the truly great outdoors while we hike from our mountain refuge to Tymfi summit at 2,497m and from there to the village of Tsepelovo through alpine meadows filled with wild flowers.
According to the legends of Sarakatsanei narrated by livestock farmers who grazed their flocks in the mountain meadows of Papigo, two dragons used to live at the Dragon Lakes of Smolikas and Tymfi, and having great enmity between them, they quarreled constantly. The dragon of Tymfi threw at his opponent giant logs and the dragon of Smolikas responded with white stones. This explains the fact that the limestone peaks that we are going to hike today are bare of vegetation.
Drive from Monodendri to Ioannina, visit the city, and from there to Athens
Ioannina the beautiful capital of the prefecture, is a city where history and tradition blend together in a mysterious way. Ioannina was under the Ottoman rule for almost 500 years, and Turkish influence has survived here more strongly than anywhere. Under the Turks the city flourished as a center of arts and crafts and no one had more impact on the town than the ruler Ali Pasha. In the morning, drive to Ioannina and discover the living history through a walking tour in the city's old citadel. After lunch we will depart to Athens for the farewell dinner.
Overnight in Athens, Philippos (B,L,D)
Monodendri to Ioannina 36km / 1 hour
Ioannina to Athens 422 km / 4h 30min
Say farewell to Greece or continue on your own
Breakfast is at your leisure at the hotel and following that, your trip with Tripin Adventures in Greece concludes. Transfer independently from our accommodation in Athens to the international airport for return flights home or continue
Price includes: All accommodations as listed (or similar) based on double occupancy
Hotel taxes and service charges
All transportation during the trip
All activities mentioned in the program
Entrance fees to the archaeological site of Vergina
Tourist guide for the archaeological site of Vergina
Services of a guide throughout the tour
Transport and handling of one reasonably sized suitcase and one carry-on per person
Climbing equipment (Helmet, harness, rope, carabiners, slings)
Included meals: Breakfast, lunches and dinners as indicated in the itinerary, snacks during activities
Not Included: Domestic and/or international air fare
Travel or emergency evacuation insurance
Gratuities for leader/guide or driver
Alcoholic beverages and meals other than outlined in itinerary
Visas if needed
Transfer to and from the airport/port
Other items of a personal nature
Anything not mentioned in above program
We are constantly updating our unique itineraries based on new information and experiences available. The walks, accommodations, and visits listed may be adjusted. The itineraries presented are subject to modification and change by Tripin Adventures. We reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in our judgment, conditions warrant, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of participants, anything not mentioned in above program.
This trip Level is Moderate/Strenuous and is suitable for most people that are in fairly good physical condition and are not afraid of heights. It is not recommended for individuals who suffer from acrophobia. Although the daily distances are not extremely far, it has been rated Moderate/Strenuous as there are quite significant elevation gains and losses and increasing steepness during the summit attempt. Although the paths are quite well-kept the terrain often tends to be very stony and rocky, during the hike. You will mostly be walking on footpaths, mountain trails and be prepared for steeper passages near the main summit.
Climbing to the main summit of Olympus, Mytikas 2918m, is just at the edge of what is called hiking, because it partly requires also a basic use of your hands, as we say easy climbing or scrambling. From technical point of view, it is not very demanding but there is a certain exposure and if the psychological factor or bad weather comes into play it could hinder you from achieving your goal or even jeopardize your safety. This is why we always imply some technical gear such us ropes, carabiners, harness helmets, gps, etc. Hopefully you will not need most of it at all, but it is always available as a backup.
Trips designated "Moderate" are more active and require a bit more endurance. Hikes and treks includes occasional steep ascents. Trip members should be experienced hikers in good physical condition, capable of walking 3-5 hours
Trips designated "Strenuous" require strong physical stamina, as we're often active for 6+ hours per day. Hikes and treks include traversing more rugged and mountainous terrain.
Getting There & Away:Athens airport Eleftherios Venizelos, is about 27km east of Athens. Athens is connected with direct flights with various cities in Europe, North America and Asia.
Getting around: We can arrange for a transfer from the airport to your hotel. If you want to come by yourself, the metro and the suburban rail provide quick connections to central Athens (1 hour / 10 euros ticket). The bus option is cheaper though it takes longer (1h 30 min / 5 euros ticket). You can also take a taxi (1 hour / 35-50 euros).
Simple, nutritious and flavorsome, the food is one of the pleasures of travel through Greece. Rustic Greek Cuisine reflects the history and bounty of its diverse regions and relies in the fresh, seasonal home-grown produce and generally simple, unfussy cooking that brings out the rich flavors of the Mediterranean.
Greece's relaxed and hospitable dinning culture makes it easy to get into the local spirit. Greeks love to eat out and share impossibly big meals family style. Given the long summers and mild winters, alfresco dining is central to the dining experience. Service could be slow by Western standards, but why being in rush either way.
As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own. Note that alcohol and soda are not included.
The climate of Olympus and Tymfi is affected by its geographical location, size, strata and the exposure of the mountain slopes. Generally speaking, it has a Mediterranean climate, warm and dry in the summer and wet in the winter. For approximately seven months of the year both mountains are covered in snow (from November to May). They have a high level of precipitation throughout the year in the form of snow in the winter and rain and hail in the summer. In fact, the level of precipitation on both mountains is 3 to 4 times higher than that in Athens or Thessaloniki (1100 to 1800 mm of precipitation a year, while in Thessaloniki precipitation is 500 mm and in Athens 400 mm annually). Half of the precipitation falls as snow and the other half in the form of rain and hail.
The average temperature in the winter ranges from -20o C to +10o C and in the summer from 0o C to 20o C, though this is not to say that there are not some exceptions that fall outside these ranges. Every 100 m up the temperature drops by approximately half a degree. Thus if at sea level the temperature is 20o C at the same time on Mytikas Peak (2918 m) the temperature will be approximately 5o C. Finally, strong winds are a common phenomenon on both mountains and sometimes the wind reaches speeds of over 100 km per hour.
Greece has a temperate climate. Base your clothing on the "layering system", if it is hot you can "peel off" layers quickly, if it is cooler and windy you can quickly "dress up". The lighter you travel, the easier you travel. Use your best judgement and pack as lightly as possible. You will appreciate light luggage towards the end of your trip.
Please consider taking along the following items on your trip.
40l Backpack to carry clothing, climbing gear, camera, water bottle and snacks etc.
Midweight polar fleece sweater
Polar fleece jacket
Rain jacket and rain pants, or poncho
Fast drying synthetic t shirt (2x pair)
Casual clothing made of light-weight fabrics
Hiking pants, loose and easy to move in
Sun hat or baseball cap
Supportive hiking boots, broken-in with good ankle support
Casual, comfortable shoes for evening
Sunscreen and lip protection
Sunglasses and retainer strap
Personal hygiene items (towel, soap, etc.)
Security pouch or money belt
Trekking poles or walking staff
Camera, memory and batteries
Reading and writing materials
Watch with alarm or travel alarm
Motion sickness remedies
Personal first-aid kit
Insect repellent (lowrisk)
Electric adapter plug/converter
This is not a fixed list, but more of a guideline, so feel free to add and remove items as you see fit.
CURRENCY & BANKING
Greece has adopted the Euro as its currency. The easiest way to obtain local cash is from an ATM. Greek ATMs accept cards bearing the Cirrus, EC, Euro card, Visa and Plus symbols. If you take cash, US or Canadian Dollars can be easily exchanged at banks. Most major credit cards, Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted.
It is advisable to have some Euros with you upon arrival to be used for a taxi if necessary.
You may want to check the website www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
You must have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the conclusion of your trip. Please make sure that you have blank pages in your passport for your visa (if required), entry and exit stamps (one for each). Please make a copy to take with you in the event yours is lost or stolen and keep it separate from your actual passport.
Currently a Greek Tourist Visa is not required for citizens of Canada, United States, Britain and Australia. If you hold another passport, please check online http://visacentral.com/visas.php