Country/Region: Zagoria, Northern Greece
Trekking Date: 05-20-2015
Duration: 3 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate
The climb from Voidomatis River to the Astraka Refuge (on the pass) is quite long, but the path is convenient and the ascent can be broken into two days with a stop in Papingo Village
Recommended Season: May-September
Maximum Height: 2000m
A 3 days trek in the beautiful Zagoria region, part of the Pindus range in north-western Greece.
The trek starts at the small village of Vikos, goes down to the turquoise Voidomatis river and from there going up through Mikro-Papingo village and on to Astraka mountain refuge and the Dragon (Drakolimni) Lake.
From the Astraka refuge it is possible to climb to the Astraka or the Gamila peaks before returning down to Papingo village.
Another alternative is to go from the Astraka refuge down towards Stomiou Monastery (Moni-Stomiou) and finish the trek at Konitsa village. This is actually what we did but it’s not recommended since the way down towards the monastery is very(!) steep and might be dangerous at certain points.
Required Equipment & Supply:
Since you can spend the first night in Papingo village and the second night in the Astraka refuge, tents are not required. However, sleeping bags are recommended and cooking gear is required since you can’t count on buying food in the Astraka refuge. Warm clothing is very important.
Note that marks on this map are not completely accurate and do not substitute a proper trekking map.
Getting to/from there:
We rented a car in Athens and drove all the way up to Vikos village.
You can leave the car in Vikos and if you finish the trek in Papingo, just take a taxi from there to Vikos.
Alternatively, you can take a bus or a flight from Athens to Ioannina and from there take a taxi/bus (not sure about availability) to Vikos.
Distance: 6 KM
The route begins at the entrance to Vikos village (point #1). A dirt path starts from the main road that enters the village and descends south towards the Vikos gorge. The path goes over the western slopes of the gorge and it is very clear and easy to follow.
After about 30min walk, you’ll get to an intersection – the main path keeps going straight (you’ll see a sign pointing to Monodendri) and the second path goes down (left) towards the river. Take the path left and follow it down until reaching an old building. Just past the building you’ll get to the Voidomatis river springs (point #2) – a beautiful turquoise spot in the river – great for breakfast and a swim.
From there, going back up towards the intersection you came from, take the main path and keep descending with it until reaching the river again about 500m south-east from there. You’ll need to cross the river (look for a sign to Papingo, do not follow signs to Monodendri) and find the path on the other side. The path ascends north quite steeply for about 1.5km and then heads north-east for about 2km more until reaching the Mikro-Papingo village (point #3). There’s an intersection on the way where one path goes to Megalo-Papingo village (big Papingo) and the other to Mikro-Papingo (small Papingo).
In Papingo you’ll find places to eat and stay. We, actually, didn’t stay there and instead kept walking all the way up to the Astraka refuge but I would recommend splitting the climb into two days.
The total elevation climb from the Voidomatis River to Mikro-Papingo is about 500m.
Distance: 4 KM
From Mikro-Papingo find the path going up north-east towards the Astrake refuge. The path is well signed and there are some wooden sheds along the way where you’ll find a large map of the area and a good place to rest. Just follow this path all the way up until getting to the Astraka refuge (point #4, about 4km from Papingo) where you can spend the night. The total elevation climb from Mikro-Papingo to the Astraka Refuge is about 900m-1000m. It is recommended to bring your own food and cooking gear since you can’t count on buying food in the refuge.
This is a short day from Papingo up to the refuge, so if you arrive early enough you can keep going to Drakolimni Lake (Dragon Lake) and then back to the refuge to spend the night (allow about 4 hours from the refuge to the lake and back).
Distance: 9 KM
From the refuge on the Astraka pass, go down eastwards towards the lake below. after a few minutes turn north (there’s a sign to Drakolimni Lake) and walk towards the northern edge of the lake below you. From there, the path is heading north-east, crossing the river valley and climbing the slopes towards the Drakolimni Lake (point #5). Follow the path up for about 2km (about 1 hour) until reaching the beautiful lake on the top.
From the lake, get back to the refuge and from there down to Papingo.
Alternatively, you can climb to the Astraka peak (point #6, note that the path up there climbs from south of the peak) or to the Gamila peak (point #7) but we didn’t do this so I don’t have any useful information to share.
We walked from the Drakolimni Lake back down to the river valley (between Drakolimni lake and the refuge) and from there north, down to the Stomiou Monastery in the Aoos River. From there we walked down along the river until reaching the Konitsa Village. This is not recommended since the path down to the Stomiou Monastery is very(!) steep and can be dangerous at certain points. If you do want to take this path, feel free to ask me for some more information.
Things To Do Around:
There are natural pools between Megalo-Papingo and Mikro-Papingo which we didn’t know about at the time of the trek. Can be nice after the climb from the Vikos gorge or after finishing the trek…