Zagori region walking holiday in Greece

“Join a small walking group on the rugged trails leading past the villages and over the ridgelines of Vikos-Aoos National Park, in northern Greece. Stay in B&Bs and a mountain refuge by way of some steep ascents. ”

Highlights

Monodendri village | Agia Paraskevi byzantine church | Kapesovo village | Vikos Gorge | Vradeto village | Kokoris, Plakidas, Milou, Pitsioni and Kontodima stone arch bridges | Vikos-Aoos National Park | Papingo village | UNESCO site of Meteora | Meteora stone forest | rock carved 15th century monasteries | Average daily walking distance: 10kms |

Description of Zagori region walking holiday in Greece

This beautiful and completely untouched region of northern Greece has acquired near mythical status for walkers looking to escape overcrowded Athens and the sunbathers further south.

This week of walking, an average of 10kms per day for five days, unveils some of the Zagori region’s natural wonders where mountain refuges and villages provide overnight accommodation and hearty fare to allow for a deeper understanding of the natural and human history of the area.

Vikos-Aoos National Park will always feature on a walking holiday in the Zagori region with a series of stone built villages and stone arch bridges, connected by stone staircases and rugged alpine trails, helping to form a fascinating itinerary above and below plunging gorges and sheer cliffs.

Myths and legends abound in the Zagori region with the UNESCO site of Meteora promising stone pillar forests, monastic cave dwellings and ancient walking trails, alongside panoramic views over the Kalampaka plains, to leave walkers in no uncertain terms as to the natural beauty of northern Greece.

Travel Team

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Date
Price
Basis
21 Sep 2019
£1449
including UK flights
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12 Oct 2019
£1379
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09 May 2020
£1549
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06 Jun 2020
£1579
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27 Jun 2020
£1499
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29 Aug 2020
£1549
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19 Sep 2020
£1499
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03 Oct 2020
£1499
including UK flights
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Vouchers
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Zagori region walking holiday in Greece

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation and Meals:
On this trip, we stay at hotels, guesthouses and a night in a mountain refuge. All accommodation used are family run and employ local staff. When food is provided, ingredients are locally produced and sourced. In some instances, the fruits and vegetables used are from the owner’s own gardens and farms. This thereby ensures that we are benefiting the local economy and environment. Some of the properties use solar panels to heat water and utilise a more sustainable method for the central heating of their buildings. In the Zagori villages there are strict building regulations, air conditioning is not allowed to maintain the local architecture and minimise any detrimental impact to the environment. When meals are not provided, our local guides will encourage and recommend clients to eat at local restaurants and cafes. The Zagori villages are famous for their traditional pies. Spinach pie, cheese pie or other pies will be offered to clients to have a taste. We also encourage them to try the local “tsipouro”, an alcoholic drink made from grapes, very popular in the area.

Local craft and culture:
In the Zagori villages, there are plenty of opportunities for clients to support local craft and produce. There are several local shops to purchase handcrafted products, handmade spirits and pasta. Papigo village is known for its cheese and dairy products. While in Monodendri village, clients can find wood souvenirs from the monastery of Ag. Paraskevi.

The majority of the Zagori area is within a national park which is protected by Natura 2000, a network of nature protection areas in the European Union. This ensures that endangered species such as Rupicapra are protected. The locals are also wary not to produce any products made from endangered species. Nonetheless, our local guides will still advise clients on products they should avoid and never purchase.

During the trip, we will hike through the Vikos – Aoos UNESCO Global Geopark, one of the most impressive areas in Greece with landscapes. The aim of having Geoparks is to ensure that their geological significance is safeguarded so as to preserve it for science, education, culture and even responsible tourism. More than 2000 plant species grow in the area along with many other animal species like brown bears and the Balkan chamois.
We will also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meteora where we get to admire the spectacular rock pillars of the Meteora stone forest. The area of Meteora was initially inhabited by monks and subsequently monasteries were systematically built. Today only 6 out of the 24 constructed are still active. Clients will get to visit one of the top-cliff monasteries in the area to learn about the way of living of these monks.

Activity:
A walking and trekking trip as such has very little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as it is a low impact activity that requires comparatively little resources to support. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We work with a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, meaning we have respect for wildlife and the landscape, separate rubbish and take all waste back to a proper disposal place. As a walking and trekking trip, it allows easier access to the local communities and hence, facilitates interaction with the locals from the visits to local cafes and restaurants as well as markets to purchase traditional gifts and craft and get a real impression of the country.

Water:
Water is a really important issue with trips such as this and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Wherever possible we provide safe alternative sources of water to buying single use plastic bottles. Throughout this trip tap water and/or natural spring water is available to our clients. We encourage all our passengers to come prepared with a reusable water bottle for this purpose.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.


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