It is undoubtedly the hallmark of Zagori nature. A deep gorge in Epirus region, with vertical cliffs and breathtaking scenery that impose upon you in awe: the deepest part of the canyon has drop offs of 900 meters and it is located between Beloi and Oxia spots. You will certainly feel vertigo if you stand over there!
Dense green bush forests surround the gray rocks, and in many places you will see some peculiar formations with slices of white ash and stone, that look like “stone forests’”.
Except an important monument of nature Vikos Gorge is a monument of human civilization as it is studded with stone bridges, pebbled paths , monasteries, hermitages, watermills and is surrounded by the most beautiful villages of Zagori (called Zagorohoria).
The canyon goes narrow (and then opens wide at some parts) but the most impressive section is undoubtedly the one which lays between the old stone Noutsou bridge and the other stone bridge at Klidonia. This part of the canyon is the heart of the Greek National Park of Vikos – Aoos. It includes a rare and delicate ecosystem, which exists in a microclimate very different from the one at the surrounding mountain scenery of the impressive mount Tymfi (usually in the gorge you will find somewhat higher temperatures than the mountains).
The rich vegetation in the canyon varies: there are plane trees, alders, willows, water plants blooming at the stream in the bottom of the gorge, there are maple and oak trees over the vertical cliffs and pines and beeches in the most mountainous parts of the canyon.
There are over 1.700 species of plants and herbs in the gorge – they were used as medicine by the famous local doctors of 19th century called Viogiatri – and a large collection of those species are shown in the Lazaridis Museum in Koukouli village. The Vikos gorge plants include species from many kinds of plant families like Centaurea, Lillium and Campanula.
133 species of birds live in the canyon (including large predators like eagles and vultures) and 24 species of mammals (otters, wild cats, wild boar, bears, deer and the endangered and rare wild goat).
The National Park was established in 1973 and it includes an area of 122,250 acres from which the 34,120 acres are the core of the Park (which includes the Vikos Gorge and the Great Lakkos Area). No human activity is allowed in the core area of the park. In the Vikos Gorge you will not find neither shepherds nor loggers (maybe some poachers rarely) but just only hikers like you.
The best places to enjoy the view of the canyon from above is in Beloi spot (located outside the Vradeto village, look at the picture below with the company in Beloi) in Oxia spot (over Monodendri village) and at a spot by the village of Vikos.
Crossing the gorge is one of the best hikes in Zagorohria (and in the mountainous Greece!). The path begins at Monodendri village and ends in the village of Vikos after a five hours hike. Respect the delicate ecosystem and not leave trash behind you (perhaps trash is the biggest problem of the park, especially around some villages located by the edges of the gorge).
Where am I? Vikos Gorge is located in Epirus region, in Zagorohoria area. The quickest way to get there is by car through Ioannina city.