Olympus the mountain of the Gods

You, let us begin from the Muses who in hymning their father Zeus, delight his mighty mind within Olympus, saying what is and what will be and what has been, with voices in tune, and a sound flows tirelessly and sweet from their mouths. The halls of father Zeus loud-thundering laugh as their delicate sound fragments, and the peaks of snow-covered Olympus resound as do the halls of the immortals.
–Hesiod, Theogony

Day 1: Welcome!

We fly to Thessaloniki, where we will be welcomed by our tour guide and get transferred to the foothills of the divine Mount Olympus. Information meeting at our booked hotel in the Olympic Riviera. 4 overnight stays.

Day 2: Olympus & Enippeas Gorge

Rising almost vertically from the Aegean Sea, Mount Olympus was the perfect spot for housing the ancient Greek gods. This mountain massif with its harsh slopes, bold ridges and deep canyons was the symbol of the divine heaven for the ancient Greeks. Start of our hiking tour is the monastery of St. Dionysos, surrounded by dense, alpine forests. We go hiking along the international hiking trail E4, so as to reach the Enippeas gorge and then we follow the river to Litochoro through old mule paths. We take a brief sandwich break before we enter the village of Litochoro. We will definitely take some time to stroll through the streets of the village. Finally, drive back to the Olympic Riviera.
(Upwards: ca. 280 m, downwards ca. 810 m, length: ca. 12 km – ca. 6 hrs.)

Day 3: Free Time!

Today we will just enjoy the wonderful clear beach of the Olympic Riviera. For those who think that they do not need a break yet, there is an optional hiking tour to the top of Mount Olympus.

Day 4: To the mountain shelter Krevatia

 A round hiking tour is ahead of us today; start and end of the tour will be the small church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity). Fine pathways will lead us through a part of the forest up to the mountain shelter of Krevatia. The higher we hike, the better is the natural view of the Olympus area. At the “Rema tou Papa”, a small stream that we are about to cross, we fill our bottles with fresh, crystal clear mountain water and we continue on our hiking tour to the high plateau of the mountain shelter Krevatia in an altitude of 1,009 m. The view is absolutely breathtaking. At the same time, we enjoy our lunch and then we hike back to the start of our tour. Reaching the small church of Agia Triada, we admire its frescos and finally we drive back to the Olympic Riviera.

(Upwards: ca. 750 m, downwards ca. 700 m, length: ca. 15 km – ca. 6.5 hrs.)

Day 5: To the Monasteries of Meteora

Drive through Larissa and the Thessalian plain to Kalambaka. The view of the gigantic and impressive rock formation of Meteora at the end of the plain is something truly amazing. Byzantine monasteries are hanging from the cliffs like secure fortresses of the holy heavens. First stop of our dive into the fantastic scenery of this strangely-formed landscape is the Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity). Of course, we will beforehand cast a glimpse over the walls of the monastery. Infatuated with the aromas of wild herbs, we hike down an old mule pathway. Along our way, we find vineyards and thousands of olive trees, while the pathway leads us to traditional stone houses located at the foot of majestic rock falls. These stone monuments are surrounded by cypress and cedar forests. At the area of Kalambaka we will enjoy our lunch. In the late afternoon, we drive on to Epirus and reach the Zagoria villages in the evening. 4 overnight stays at the village of Monodendri.

(Upwards: ca. 0 m, downwards ca. 300 m, length: ca. 5 km – ca. 1.5 hrs.)

Day 6: Panorama & Vikos Gorge

Start of the tour is the village of Tsepelovo. From there on, we hike up through alpine meadows to the wonderful view point Beloi, the “balcony” of Vikos gorge. Beloi is located in an altitude of 1,430 m. and it gives us the opportunity to admire the view over and into the gorge. We enjoy the panorama and then we hike further to Vradeto, the highest located village of Zagoria. At Vradeto there will be a traditional lunch table awaiting us. Having gained enough energy, we go down the stone staired pathway “Skala of Vradeto”.
This part of the hiking tour is one of the most attractive ones in the whole region because of the spectacular view of the top of Pindos mountain chain it offers. At the end of the route, our bus is waiting for us for the drive back to Monodendri.
(Upwards: ca. 760 m, downwards ca. 680 m, length: ca. 15 km – ca. 6 hrs., difficulty: medium)

Day 7: The Deepest Gorge

Climbing up the “Old Skala” at Monodendri, we approach the deepest gorge in the world. As we follow the flow of the river, we discover alongside the pathway numerous endemic plants. We are in one of the most beautiful national parks in Greece; home of lots of different animal species, such as lynxes, foxes, bears, wild boars and several accipitrids. In the middle of the gorge, we have a picnic at a rest stop with a water spring. After resting and eating, we follow the flow of the river a little bit further, before we hike up to the village of Vikos (duration: 40 min.). The bus is waiting for us at the end of the route, in order to transfer us back to our hotel.
(Upwards: ca. 580 m, downwards ca. 610 m, length: ca. 13 km – ca. 7 hrs., difficulty: hard)

Day 8: Tour to 3 Zagoria Villages

Drive to the Zagoria village Kipi and from there on through dense deciduous forests to the neighboring village of Koukouli. Following the flow of the river, we approach the stone arch bridge of Misiou, which leads us to the other river bank. In a short while, we reach the “Skala of Vitsa”, a steep and rough, cobble-stone staired pathway, which leads us from the gorge upwards to Vitsa, a village with wonderful houses. We may be tired from the effort, but the panorama view will absolutely reward us. After a short break, we carry on to Dilofo. At a local tavern, we will taste delicious meat, cooked in the special Epirotic way. At the end of the day, we drive back to Monodendri.
(Upwards: ca. 480 m, downwards ca. 350 m, length: ca. 11 km – ca. 4.5 hrs., difficulty: medium)

Day 9: Ioannina

Today we drive to Ioannina; the city of legends and traditions, of silver jewelers and intellectuals is situated at the heart of Epirus, surrounded by mountains and the lake Pamvotis. The minarets and the mosques are the remnants of the Ottoman era, a particularly important period for the city of Ioannina. We visit by boat the fortress situated in the lake, once home of Ali Pasha. During our tour, we will also visit the monastery of the small island and learn everything about the life and death of the last Ottoman leader. After lunch we drive back to Thessaloniki. Overnight stay in our booked hotel.

Day 10: Flight back home – “Geia sas!”

 Transfer to Thessaloniki International Airport “Makedonia”. Flight back home.

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