Zagori is a mountain area in the heart of Epirus. The name Zagori has a Slavic origin from the words ‘za’, which means behind, and‘gori’, which means mountain. So, Zagori means ‘the land behind the mountain’, and in particular behind Mt. Mitsikeli of Ioannina, which is the natural border of Zagori to the south. The region includes 47 traditional villages. The altitude of the region varies between 500 and 2.000 m, which is the altitude of the highest peak of Timfi mountain range, Gamila.
Coordinates: 39°52′N 20°42′E (1) Ioannina (2) N. Tzoumerka (3) Dodona (4) Zagori (5) Zitsa (6) Konitsa (7) Metsovo (8) Pogoni
Zagohoria is an area of about 1.000 sq. m and it is divided into three geographical sections: West, East and Central Zagori. Each section has its own special beauty and history.
It lies on the north east of Ioannina and it includes beautiful villages such as: the villages of Vardas valley (Greveniti, Elatochori, Makrino, Flabourari, Tristeno), the villages of Zagoritikos (Anthrakitis, Karies, Doliani, Kavallari), the beautiful Vovousa, the villages Demati, Itea, Petra, Kastanona and the settlements of St. Paraskevi and Potamia.
Central Zagori lies on the north of Ioannina and it includes special villages such
as Vitsa, Monodendri, the wellknown Vlachohoria (Vrisochori, Iliochori, Laista), Kipoi, Dilofo, Asprangeloi and Koukouli, Kapesovo, Tsepelovo, Skamneli and Negades and the villages of Ano Vikos valley (Vradeto, Elati, Ano and Kato Pedina). It also includes the villages Dikorpho, Manassi, Kalouta, Dipotano, Fragades and Leptokaria.
Zagori is an area of great natural beauty, with striking geology and two national parks, one including the river Aoos and the Vikos Gorge, the other around Valia Kalda, to the east of the imposing snow-capped Mount Tymphe. Zagori could also be called the place of bridges. The 45 or so villages of Zagori were interconnected by mountain roads and traditional arched stone bridges until modern roads were opened in the 1950s. The stone arched bridges were built by benefactions from expatriate merchants in the 18th century and replaced older wooden bridges. There often existed a bell under the bridges that warned the passers-by if the passage was dangerous because of bad weather.
You will meet a lot of lakes during your tour in the region of Zagori. Some of them are very small and others a lot bigger, but all of them are found in exceptional locations in the beautiful wild nature that surrounds them.
Drakolimni of Gamila
In the verge of the ravine of Aoos in 2.000 meters altitude, you will meet this alpine lake. Its place is particularly impressive and the landscape unique. It has permanent water and its particular characteristic is the Alpine Triton (Triturus alpestris), a rare species of amphibians that resemble small dragons. These creatures that live in the cold water of the lake have contributed in the past to the creation of legends that speak of the presence of dragons in the region. You can get to Drakolimni of Gamila after about a two-hour walk from Mikro Papigo. (read more about other lakes in the Zagori area…)
River Voidomatis with its spotless frozen water springs from the Vikos Gorge and meets River Aoos in the plain of Konitsa. It is one of the few rivers where the water is potable, consequently whoever is thirsty after a walk by its banks can bend to the river and quench one’s thirst. Its light blue water has stable temperature of 4° C all year round, but it’s definitely worth the experience of daring a dive only during summer months, of course.
You can walk on paths by its banks drowned in platans and enjoy the unusual natural beauty and a landscape which in certain points is completed by the traditional stone bridges, so typical of Zagori.
Activities in Zagori
Hiking in Zagori: One of the many routes you can choose from begins from the village Vikos and leads to Mikro Papigo. It is a route of 2 km which is really popular. You begin from Vikos in 760 meters altitude and go down the fine cobbled road until you reach the springs of River Voidomatis.
If it is summertime you will have to put your legs in the water of the river so as to go across and follow another uphill path, which takes you to Mikro Papigo. Though the route is quite short, only 2 km, nevertheless the duration of the walk is about 2 hours because of the uphill road where the hypsometric difference is 700 meters. (read about other routes…)
Hiking Trails and Trips in Epirus
Popular Hiking guides and trips in Epirus that you can use to plan your next adventure. You can download guides, including a detailed map, description and points of interest for a small fee to your iPhone or Android.
Rafting and kayaking: The first descent begins from the most photographed part of Zagori. This is not any other but the bridge of Papigo, 1 kilometer from Aristi on the way to Papigo. You will follow a green route in Voidomatis gorge and the route finishes in the bridge of Klidonia. The descent can also be done by kayak, monoraft or inflatable boat. The length of the route is 5 km and the duration of the adventure is about 1,5 hour. Previous experience is not necessary as the water is not impetuous.
This descent addresses people who love this sport and have excellent knowledge and experience. The route begins from Vovousa and finishes in Vrisohori. It is a route whosemain characteristic is the big degree of difficulty and the big length of the descent, which is about 27 kilometres. The duration of the route is about 7-8 hours and it can be done only by kayak or monoraft. Finally, we should say that excellent fitness, perfect knowledge of all the techniques of descent, as well as previous experience in rivers of 4th and 5th degree difficulty are necessary. (read about more routes…)
Mountainbiking: The variety of the geomorphological terrain and the feast of colours create ideal routes for the lovers of mountain bike. Those of you who will not come appropriately equiped will be able to address one of the companies that offer this kind of activities and they will take on to give you the right equipment as well as guide you. (read about the routes…)
Rockclimbing: 4 different ascensions with different degrees of difficult each, challenge your limits…
Route 1: The first route is in the region Astrakas of Zagori and it is a region that is famous for the quality of the climbing field as it gets together big routes in good-quality rocks, where the hypsometric differences reach up to 450 meters. Some of the routes are: Kopsi Triestinon with height of 450 meters, Kopsi of Lost Companions in 400 meters Altitude and Pilie of Rain. Some of them are snow-ice. (read about the other routes…)
Hanggliding – Parapente: Those who know can tell you that it is magical to fly. Those who have not dared yet can taste some of that that magic as “fellow-passengers” in a tandem flight!
Those who have experienced a parapente flight say that it is magical to fly. The fans of the sport say that you feel complete freedom. The truth is that a trip in the sky is a challenge and thousands of stills with beautiful pictures will be kept in your memory. You’ll find schools of theoretical and practical training of parapente near the city of Ioannina in the area Asprangeloi. If you are novices and you want to taste this unique piece of experience you can be part of a tandem flight as a fellow-passenger.
The slopes of Mitsikeli offer suitable ascendants for an extended flight along the slopes. As far as where you will land, we should inform you that the landing takes place in open fields by the National Road Ioannina-Konitsa.
Early history of Zagori
The first evidence of human presence in the area is dated between 17,000 and 10,000 years ago. Important epipaleolithic artifacts have been unearthed from Kleidi Cave on the banks of the Voidomatis. In antiquity, the region of Zagori was inhabited by the Tymphaeans and formed a part of the ancient kingdom of the Molossians, a Greek tribe of Epirus that gained control over all of Epirus in classical times. They were known for a breed of huge war-mastiffs they used in military operations. Molosssus, their eponymous ancestor, was said to have been born of a union between Neoptolemus (son of Achilles) and Andromache (the wife of Hector of Troy). Neoptolemus, also called Pyrrhus for his blond hair, was first in a line of Epirotan kings leading to the king Pyrrhus of Hellenistic times who launched several campaigns against the Romans in Italy. Remains of cyclopean walls in Skamneli also testify to the antiquity of human occupation. During the 9th–4th centuries B.C., a small Molossian settlement existed between Monodendri and Vitsa, including stone houses and two cemeteries which have yielded important findings. However, throughout most of the historical time the local population was sparse while the land provided mainly for pastoralism and firewood for the local needs.
(read further about the history of Zagori…)
Museums and Libraries
Folklore Museum of Agapios Tolis: It is found in Kipoi of Central Zagori. It includes an exceptionally rich collection of folklore material of 40.000 objects of daily life from the whole region of agori, collected with hard work by Agapios Tolis.
Opening hours: 08:30 to 13:00 & 17:30 to 20:30
Εntrance ticket: Free of charge Phone: +30 2653071826
Μuseum of Traditional Occupations: It is found in the village Elafotopos
of Central Zagori. It includes a rich collection of folklore material from the wider region of Zagori and special tools and utensils that the residents used for their main works.
Εntrance ticket: Free of charge Phone: +30 2653071001
Library of Paschalios School: It is found in the village Kapesovo of Central Zagori. It is accommodated in the building of Paschalios School and it is not a lending library. It is a quite small library, which includes however very important books, like one of the 13 saved copies of Riga Feraios’s Greek Map.
Library of M. Anagnostopoulos: It is found in Megalo Papigo in West Zagori. It is the personal library of Micheal Anagnostopoulos, which includes over 1250 volumes of books and is not a lending one. Most of the books are in a foreign language, since almost all Greek books were spoilt during the time of the Occupancy. All the pieces have been published between 1750 and 1906.