E P I R U S & T H E P I N D H O S M O U N T A I N S

TOUR CODE: 15550 GRADE: 6 SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER 2016 09 September 30 September - 19 September 10 October 11 Days – Half Board E P I R U S & T H E ...
Author: Jared Boone
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09 September 30 September


19 September 10 October

11 Days – Half Board

E P I R U S & T H E P I N D H O S M O U N TA I N S Walking a dramatic corner of northern Greece

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN


This information is in addition to our General Information Booklet, which is enclosed. Northern Greece offers a region of remoteness, rugged scenery and traditional architecture quite different to what might be expected of visitors to Greece. The mountainous countryside is simply stunning with the limestone peaks of the Pindhos range, floating monasteries of Metéora, forested ravines, rushing rivers, traditional stone-built villages and graceful arched bridges. If you are looking for higher grade walking in spectacular scenery, coupled with the famous Greek hospitality and cuisine, then this holiday is for you. Our new, three-centre holiday begins in Metéora, literally meaning “middle of the sky” or “in the heavens above” and is one of the gems of Greece. Here we find monasteries perched high above the ground on pillars of solid rock, which have been eroded by earthquakes, and weathered by wind and water over millions of years. The monasteries of Metéora are second only to Mount Athos as being the largest and most important of Eastern orthodox monasteries. We move on to the remote Pindhos region, where we explore the villages, foothills and river gorges of the Tzoumerka range. The lake side city of Ioannina, a bastion of Ali Pasha, boasts a kastro, mosques and museums and is considered one of the most characteristic of Greece. Nissi island, in the middle of Lake Pamvotidha, is an interesting visit with its several monasteries. Our walks lead us to ruined Turkish fortifications, past waterfalls and through the remote and rugged countryside. Zagori, in the northern Pindhos, is famed for its many villages (known as Zagorohoria) of grand stone mansions, and from here we follow traditional cobbled kalderimi paths and well trodden trails, our walks taking us through unspoilt pastures and mountainsides, past icy springs and forested ravines and the perhaps the highlight of the holiday - hiking the dramatic Vikos Gorge – one of the top five gorges in Greece and a rival to Crete’s Samaria Gorge. Accompanying the spectacular walking on this holiday are wonderful hotels, both for their location and charm. Built in the local traditional style of stone and wood, they offer a welcoming embrace at the end of the day. The Hotel Kastraki, in the picturesque village of Kastraki, offers unparalleled views of the Metéora mountains; the Hotel Princess Lanassa is particularly proud of its local cuisine, while the Hotel Papaevangelou, situated in the heart of the Zagori village region, offers stunning vistas from every window. This holiday offers sometimes challenging, but rewarding, walking exploring deep gorges and imposing mountains. You’ll get a real sense of achievement from a day’s walk and you’ll enjoy the food, scenery and people. All the elements needed for a good holiday!

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN



Overnight accommodation:

1 Hotel Kastraki, Kastraki

Daily itinerary:


Arrive Thessaloniki airport and transfer by coach to the village of Kastraki located in Metéora. We stay at the Hotel Kastraki for 2 nights’ accommodation.



From the picturesque village of Kastraki, we explore on foot the stunning region of Metéora, with its “floating” monasteries.


We transfer by coach to the village of Kostitsi (approx 1.5 hours driving time), where we stay at the Hotel Princess Lanassa for 4 nights’ accommodation. On route we will visit Ioannina with a walk on Nissi Island and time to see the Old Town with its Islamic architecture After check in at the hotel we may take a stroll from the village to the local church, perched high above the Arachtos Gorge.

Hotel Princess Lanassa, Kostitsi


From Kostitsi, our walks take us to the village of Serviana and Bizani Hill, with its massive ruined fortifications from the 1912 war against Turkey; into the Tzoumerka range offering varied terrain paths, ending at the site of the old Plaka stone bridge across the lower Arachthos river; down into the gorge of the Arachtos River and up to the spectacular village of Eliniko.


We transfer to the North Pindhos range today, to the village of Megalo Papingo. We’ll enjoy a short walk en route that introduces us to the beauty of the Zagori region, renowned for its villages of grand mansions. We stay at the Hotel Papaevangelou for 4 nights’ accommodation.

Hotel Papaevangelou, Megalo Papingo 8-10

Our walks from Megalo Papingo take us into the mountains to the Astraka refuge with stunning views and mountain springs; a scenic route into the Vikos Gorge – a challenging but rewarding walk and possibly the highlight of the holiday – and along kalderimi with views of the Aoos Valley and Albanian mountains.


Transfer by coach to Thessaloniki airport for the flight to the UK. D (Dinner)

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN

B (Breakfast)



HOLID AY GR ADE & WALK I NG PROGR AM ME: Our grade 6 walking programme from Kastraki, Kostitsi and Megalo Papingo offers some quite challenging but rewarding walks with the opportunity to visit typical Greek villages and churches, enjoy picturesque views and experience stunning gorges with flowing rivers and bubbling springs. All the walks fall comfortably within the Grade 6 category and are taken at a comfortable pace, with plenty of opportunity to admire the views that the area is famous for. The terrain is varied – there are some short steep climbs and descents, some paths are stony and occasionally overgrown, but much of the walking is also on easy tracks. The walking programme includes some shorter walks but also some longer days out in the hills. On some days, there could be ascents and descents of about 700 metres and two of the anticipated walks have descents around 1000-1200m. Our walking programmes may be adjusted to suit weather conditions at any time of year. An example of some of the walks we may include in our programme (dependent on weather conditions and the ability of the group) are as follows: Meteora: A D+ walk up and down the valleys and ravines, passing four of the monasteries. Distance 13 km/8 miles.Ascent and Descent: 680m Vikos Gorge: A top-of-grade walk from Monodhendhri village down to the gorge, following an undulating path alongside the dry river bed and ascending to Papingo. Distance 15km/10miles. Ascent 750m Descent 700m Kataraktis waterfalls to Aghnanda and Plaka Bridge: A varied walk along mountainside and through forests & villages, to the most famous of the renowned stone packhorse bridges. Distance 17km/11.5miles Ascent 400m Descent 1200m Astraka Refuge: Another top-of-grade walk, out and back, with a long, beautiful ascent into the mountains as far as the Astraka refuge, culminating with stunning views into the central mountains of the Zagori. Weather and group ability depending, there is the option to continue to Dragon Lake (see note on insurance) Distance: 15km/10 miles Ascent/Descent: +/- 1200m Ano Kleidhonia and Lower Vikos Gorge: A wonderfully varied walk that contours through bushes/scrub and up and down gullies. The views are increasingly beautiful stretching to the Aoos Valley and Albanian Mountains. Distance: 14km/8.5 miles Ascent 400m Descent 1000m We do not include local transport costs or entrance fees in conjunction with the walks programme on this holiday. This is due to walks being weather dependent and also takes into account the group ability and your personal choice (you may choose to take a day off from the group arrangements), and this way you only pay for the activities that you take part in. Local transport costs for this holiday should not exceed £50 per week (approx €60, payable locally in euro). Should you decide to take an optional excursion, these costs are not included in the holiday or local transport costs.

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN

Please note that the estimation of local costs relating to this holiday is based on currency exchange rates valid at the time of the publication of our winter 2016/spring 2017 brochure and this Holiday Information sheet. Any fluctuations in exchange rates may impact on this estimation of local costs. Please check with your bank or foreign currency provider prior to your holiday to enable you to plan your spending. Each evening, the leader will discuss with you the programme for the following day. If you do not wish to join the party, please let the leader know.


We fly from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki and return with British Airways.

Details of your baggage allowance will be confirmed in your travel documents, sent approximately 10 days prior to departure.

The transfer from Thessaloniki Airport to our first centre, Kastraki, takes approximately 3 hours by coach.

PASSPORTS & VI S AS: Please refer to Section 2 of the enclosed General Information Booklet. For British passport holders, for stays in Greece of up to three months your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. It is a good idea to carry photocopies of the personal details pages of your passport. Should you lose your passport, this may assist with the issue of replacement documents and your return to the UK. Passport, visa and health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply with, such requirements. Advice on vaccinations is available from your GP, or can be obtained from the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA). In addition, general travel advice is available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at www.fco.gov.uk/travel.

LOC AL CURRENCY: Please refer to Section 2 of our General Information Booklet for details. The currency in Greece is the euro. As Kastraki, Kostitsi and Megalo Papingo are small villages with limited facilities, you may wish to take some euro with you to tide you over until we visit Ioannina ( Day 3 ) where banks and cash machines can be found. You will also find an ATM at Thessaloniki airport. After the visit to Ioannina you will need to have sufficient euros through to the end of the holiday. All hotels accept credit cards. © Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN

ACCOMMOD ATION AND M E ALS: On this holiday we stay in wonderful properties that offer charm and comfort. They are built in the traditional style of the area. The three-star Hotel Kastraki has an enviable position with a backdrop of the majestic Metéora mountains and all rooms have a balcony so you can take time to enjoy the scenery. All en suite rooms are tastefully decorated and furnished with TV, climate control, hairdryer, safe and wi-fi. The hotel offers a lounge, bar with fireplace, breakfast room and its partner taverna is located a short walk from the hotel. Hotel Kastraki Kastraki-Kalambaka Thessalia 42200 Greece Tel: 0030 24320 75336 www.hotelkastraki.gr The family run Hotel Princess Lanassa is located in the village of Kostitsi, in the Tzoumerka hills south of Ioannina, in a country home that has remained in the Poulis family for over 300 years. It is traditional in design and offers a stunning interior with well-appointed rooms. The hotel has a swimming pool (usually open from June onwards, but weather dependent), terrace, restaurant, wi-fi in the reception area, bar and small gym. All bedrooms have a safe, television, fridge, hairdryer and phone. The hotel restaurant, where we will have our evening meals, offers superb local dishes. Hotel Princess Lanassa Kostitsi 44013 Katsanochoria Greece Tel: 0030 26590 22600 Website: www.hotellanassa.gr The traditional Hotel Papaevangelou, lies in the pretty Zagoria village of Megalo Papingo, under the shadow of the majestic cliffs known as “The Towers”. Again beautifully decorated, the hotel offers a lovely garden, bar, lounge with fireplace, breakfast room, free wi-fi and beautiful vistas from every aspect! All bedrooms are en suite and have a television. The hotel is small with only 14 rooms, which vary in style and are allocated on arrival. Hotel Papaevangelou Megalo Papingo 44044 Greece Tel: 0030 26530 41135 Website: www.hotelpapaevangelou.gr The electricity supply in Greece is 220v AC and you will need a round 2-pin adaptor if you wish to use electrical equipment.

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN

Breakfasts and dinners are included in the holiday charge. All breakfasts will be taken at the hotels. Dinners while staying at the Princess Lanassa will be taken at the hotel, which offers a wonderful menu and prides itself on its local cuisine. While staying in Megalo Papingo and Kastraki, dinners will be taken at local restaurants, offering the opportunity to sample the wonderful local dishes. Lunches are not included in the holiday cost. Picnic lunches can be ordered from the hotels, or a day’s walking may include lunch at a taverna. Your leader will give you more information at the daily briefings. The meals on this holiday are a wonderful accompaniment to the walking and scenery, and the menus are chosen so that you are able to sample a wide variety of the Greek food, with vegetarians easily catered for.


Kostitsi is a small village and has only a small bar/café. Resort facilities in Kastraki and Megalo Papingo include a small general store, restaurants and bars. Shops, medical facilities, banks and cash machines can be found in Ioannina.

CLO THI NG AND EQUIPME NT: Late summer in Epirus should offer warm days with average high temperatures in the mid to high 20°Cs, but be prepared for chilly evenings and the occasional rainy day. You may wish to visit www.myweather2.com to see weather information for this area. In the search box enter Ioannina. When visiting churches and monasteries the wearing of shorts can cause offence and arms should be covered. Lightweight trousers are useful on some walks for protection against thorn bushes. You may also find useful a small rucksack, lightweight bottle for drinking water, penknife (pack in suitcase), some polythene bags, and a small first aid kit. We suggest you take insect repellent, fleece or warm jacket for the evenings and early mornings, lightweight waterproofs, swimsuit and a towel (for use at the Hotel Lanassa’s pool) walking boots with good ankle support are essential for this holiday, and you may find sticks useful. We recommend that you wear your walking boots or pack them and some waterproofs in your hand luggage as, in the unlikely event that your hold luggage is delayed, you will still be able to participate in the walking programme.

TR AVELLI NG LIGHT: As you will have to handle your own baggage during this holiday, please try to travel reasonably light. You should be able to lift and carry your own luggage some distance and up and down steps. Please note that none of the hotels have lifts.

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN

INSURANCE Please make sure that your insurance for this holiday covers you for guided walking below 2000m. The Astraka refuge is at 1930m, on a col with superb views, but if you might want to continue higher to Dragon Lake, your insurance will need to cover you for guided walking over 2000m Please also take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you - it will help in the event of an emergency. Please note that the EHIC has an expiry date and you should ensure that yours is valid for the duration of your holiday. See section 1 of our General Information Booklet for further details.

M APS: Maps and books about Epirus may be obtained before departure from specialist map sellers such as The Map Shop 15 High Street Upton upon Severn, Worcs. WR8 0HJ Tel : 01684 593146 Fax : 01684 594559 Website: www.themapshop.co.uk


  

The Ionian Islands and Epirus: A Cultural History – Jim Potts – Signal Books Ltd The Mountains of Greece: Trekking in the Pindhos Mountains – Tim Salmon – Cicerone Guides Pyrrhus of Epirus – Jeff Champion – Pen & Sword Military

Local libraries stock a selection of travel guides/books which may offer you more information regarding Epirus. You may also find the following websites useful in planning your holiday:

Greek National Tourist Office The Astraka Refuge Zagori tourist information Ioannina tourist information Metéora

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN

www.gnto.gr www.astrakarefuge.com www.zagori.info www.about-ioannina.gr www.meteora-greece.com


Revisions to this Holiday Information sheet Please note that this Holiday Information sheet may be periodically updated and reissued. In most cases any revisions will be minor and the overall nature of the holiday will be unchanged. Should we need to make a major change to the holiday arrangements between you booking your holiday and your date of travel we will notify you to specifically draw your attention to any significant change. You may wish to review the latest version of the Holiday Information sheet online prior to travel.

© Ramblers Worldwide Holidays 2015 200416 HJN

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