Located in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece, this national park is one of the ten national parks in mainland Greece. It was founded in 1973 and encompasses an area of 12,600 hectares of mountainous terrain, with numerous rivers, lakes, caves, deep canyons, dense coniferous and deciduous forest. The park is part of the Natura 2000 ecological network and one of UNESCO Geoparks. The park spans an elevation range from 550 to 2,497 meters, which provides a diverse range of flora and fauna.
The park's core is the spectacular Vikos Gorge, which is carved by the Voidomatis river. The gorge is 12 km long and attains a depth of 1,000 meters. The Aoös gorge, Mt Tymphe at Gamila peak, and a number of traditionally preserved settlements form the park's peripheral zone. The park's remoteness and relatively small human population, combined with the great variation of biotopes and microclimatic conditions, favors the existence of a rich variety of flora (1,800 species) in the area. Vikos–Aoös National Park supports a wide diversity of fauna, with a plethora of large mammals such as the brown bear.
The area has been sparsely populated throughout historical times, and the local communities of Zagori acquired an autonomous status from the 17th to the 19th century, flourished economically due to increased trade, and became a major center of folk medicine. In recent decades, ecotourism is seen as a remedy to the economic decline of heavily depopulated local settlements while preserving the natural environment and local architecture.
Hiking is a popular activity in Vikos–Aoös National Park, and many visitors come to take part in activities including rafting, canoe-kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. The park offers several trails, from easy to difficult, that lead you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes you'll ever see. The area receives a lot of snow during the winter as many storms get 'trapped' between the peaks, making it a great destination for winter hiking.
One of the most famous and popular walking routes in Zagori is the Vikos Gorge Trail: North to South. This 11.4 km trail starts from the village of Vikos and ends at Monodendri. It is a path in a very impressive ravine in very high vertical limestone slopes. The tectonics and the corrosive ability of the glaciers and the rain have created this wonderful and at the same time very challenging trail. Another popular trail is the Ice Age Voidomatis Trail. This 9.5 km trail starts from the village of Vikos and leads to the Voidomatis river, which is fed by the four large mountains in the area: Mount Smolikas, The Tymfi massif, the Vassilitsa dual peaks, and Trapezitsa.
Looking for a small-group trip? Why not consider the Vikos-Aoos Circuit?
This incredible trip takes you through the Vikos-Aoos National Park, one of the most beautiful and biodiverse areas in Greece, and includes hiking, rafting, and exploring the charming villages of the region.
On the first day of the trip, you'll arrive in Athens and meet your guide and group at the hotel. You'll then head out to explore downtown Athens and have dinner at a fantastic local tavern.
The second day begins with a traditional breakfast before heading towards the Zagori region to start your hike. You'll visit Beloi, a natural balcony that offers the best and most imposing view of Vikos Gorge, and in the afternoon, you'll have free time to explore the village and enjoy a lunch with local delicatessens.
On day three, you'll cross the Vikos Gorge and hike through the National Park of Vikos-Aoos, with breathtaking views of the valley. You'll then head down to Papigko village to spend the night.
The fourth day starts with an early hike towards Dracolimni, where you'll end the day at the refuge surrounded by the impressive Greek mountains.
After breakfast on the fifth day, you'll start your descent from the mountain and stop at Ovires natural swimming pools. In the summer, you can enjoy a swim and refresh in one or more of the area's pools or under the small waterfalls. You'll then arrive at Konitsa village, where you'll have free time to explore and have lunch. The day ends at a cozy guesthouse located in the woods and next to the river where you'll raft the day after.
The sixth day is all about rafting down the crystal clear waters of the Aoos river in the heart of the National Park of Vikos. Afterward, you'll start your journey back to Athens.
Finally, on day seven, after breakfast, your adventure will come to an end. This trip offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Greece and experience the country's rich culture and traditions. With Skyhook as your travel company, you can be sure to have a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable journey.