What would you do if you had just hiked down one of the world’s deepest gorges and found yourself at the most turquoise river you have ever seen in your life! It turns out my first thought goes to I must get in even if I have no swimsuit. Yes, that’s right. I was a typical backpacker and had to go skinny dipping in this beautiful river. Although I must add, I did not last very long at all! Even though it was way into 30 degrees outside, the river must have been at least -5.
So if I haven’t already scared you off with my skinny dipping endeavour(which I wouldn’t blame you if it has), let me backtrack and tell you about hiking Vikos Gorge down to the river, and the beautiful stone towns hidden in the mountains. This region was one of the areas that most shocked me in Greece.
Heading to Vikos gorge from the noisy bustling city of Ioannina was only meant to take an hour, but it turned out that these mountain roads went through some of the most picturesque villages we had seen in our whole trip (other than Pelion). The villages reminded me of driving through the Peak District with all the buildings being cobblestone. So naturally, about every 15/20 minutes, if we hadn’t already been stopped by the local’s farmer letting his cows cross the road, I would be stopping us to take pictures of all these villages.
Once we finally arrived at the cute village of Vikos we were very eager to start our hike down, but naturally, only after the village dog had greeted us by trying to climb inside our car and follow us on the trek down. I mean, now I know what is at the bottom of the gorge, I can see why he would want to follow any stranger heading down there.
As we were trying to find the trail, and clearly looking a bit lost an elderly lady told us where to find the trail and said how it would take 45 mins down and 50 mins back up. But also showed us a path that lead to a view point of the gorge. While staring out to this stunning gorge I did start to think if this hike would be a bit too extreme for us as we had not brought any of the hiking gear we have back in the UK (until two weeks before this trip we were expecting to be on the Greek beach islands not hiking down one of the worlds largest gorges).
Luckily for us, the greeks had planned way ahead of us; people used the gorge for hiking from the Vikos to the village of Monodendri for hundreds of years now. So today lies a very well-paved path heading down and actually all the way to the other side of the gorge where the town of Monodendri lies. That being said though the path had signs of landslides, and the rocks on the pavement were huge, so was a bit of killer at times especially when heading back up
On arriving at the river, we were greeted with the most peaceful and beautiful river we had ever seen! Also, it also became one of the coldest waters that I’ve ever swam in! I can’t even think how those crazy people jump in frozen lakes do it
We must of spent a good hour maybe longer just relaxing at the river taking pictures, skipping stones, and skinny dipping (Well, I did).
I don’t think either one of us wanted to leave this river. But we had to face one of the hardest things of traveling, knowing when to leaving such an amazing place and moving onto next adventure.
Once we finally chose to leave and not live our life out next to this river (which I’ve dreamt about at least once every week since leaving). It was now peak heat in the day, and at first, it was not too bad we were in the shade of the trees. But that soon changed so soon that it was only maybe 100 meters away from the river that the trees disappeared, and we were back onto the stone rock path. This was hard going for me, ginger, who had forgotten his sun cream.
Overall, it is not technical that they don’t need to use hand and scramble at any point. just move to one side when you have a 70-year-old greek man passing by
Reaching the summit back to Vikos top, we spent a good fifteen minutes dying in the car with air-con full blasting at us! We chose to drive to the other side and gorge and see what the view from Monodendri was like. personally, I think both views were terrific. I was hoping to get a sunset from Monodendri as this is area it would have set but Zeus did not feel like treating us.
Personally, I could not tell you which side to go to; both sides offer so much, the side of Vikos offering a great day hiking with the prettiest view, and side of Monodendri. also had a great view but apparently ( we didn’t get to see) lots of stone bridges that connect all the villages and very picturesque