6 days
Duration
111km
Distance
Difficult, Intermediate
Difficulty
Up 4,619m / Down 4,991m
Elevation
MTB, Road, Trekking
Bicycle type

zagorochoria bike tour

Scheduled tour dates – Guaranteed departures!

From 8 July to 13 July 2018
From 16 September to 21 September 2018

Other tour dates upon request

Activities

Cycling and hiking tour

Highlights 

  • Small island in Lake Ioannina
  • “Ali Pasha” museum
  • Citadel of Ioannina
  • Silversmithing museum
  • “Aslan Pasha Mosque” museum
  • Monument in the memory of “The Woman of Pindus”
  • Agios Minas church
  • Captain Arkouda’s bridge
  • Kokkoris’ old stone bridge
  • Path from Koukouli village to Lazaridis’ bridge
  • Kalogeriko three-arched bridge
  • Beloi trailhead
  • Heavenly Stairs of Vradeto
  • Misios’ bridge
  • Monastery of Agia Paraskevi in Monodendri
  • Taxiarches church
  • Voidomatis river and its springs
  • Monastery of Panagia Spiliotissa
  • Epic ascent to Mikro Papigko
  • Natural swimming pools in Mikro Papigko
  • War Museum in Kalpaki
  • Numerous paths and countless villages along this tour

On the paths of history and tradition

There are places that we all want to visit, to claim that we’ve been “there”, places that became vary famous and popular tourist destinations because of their publicity. This is not without a reason, as our small country is full of such places.

Thousands of islands, each one bearing its own distinctive character, emerge from the blue-green waters of the Aegean Sea.

Idyllic quiet beaches hidden in the shadow of the Mediterranean pine trees.

Picturesque villages, struggling to maintain their “colour” in our modern times, with hospitable inhabitants ready to share with you a drink of tsipouro.

Monuments of unparalleled beauty that take us back in time and history…

This list, though, with the endless beauties would never be complete if it didn’t include some unique places, that wait patiently to be discovered by their visitors, as they are not included in the tourist catalogues with the “big names”. They hide, though, amazing images that can only be revealed to us only if we work hard to approach them, and they will compensate us when we stand in front of their view, when we swim in the crystal clear waters of their springs, when we wander in their endless history and legends.

Destined for you, demanding and tireless explorer, welcome to the “diamonds” of the mountainous inland, to the “yeast” of Greek nature…welcome to “Zagorochoria” on the faraway slopes of the Pindus mountain range in Epirus!

We have plotted these routes with a lot of passion and we promise to make this trip unique and unforgettable for you!

In order to achieve this, we are going to cycle in the clear mountainous air, and when we won’t be able to continue by our bicycles, we are going to hike sometimes on quiet roads that resist with a lot of difficulty the forest that wants to “devour” them. Some other times, on old paths that interconnect the villages, surrounded by captivating scents of thousand herbs. Now on stone bridges, that each one has a story to tell or is connected with a legend, then in eternal gorges where the most clear rivers in Europe flow.

What to bring with you on this tour

Besides what you should have with you as described in the General Information of our website, it’s necessary for this tour to have with you:

  • a good raincoat,
  • a hat for the sun,
  • a small backpack,
  • hiking shoes, since there will be plenty of opportunities for this activity!

Departure and return

Start and end of the route: Ioannina/Greece

By airplane: There is the possibility of arrival-departure in Ioannina by airplane, two or four times per day depending on the season.

Car transfer: Greece by cycle is going to be in Ioannina one day in advance, so we could arrange your transfer from Thessaloniki upon request in your registration with extra charge (not included in the participation fee).

By bus: Another way to reach Ioannina is by intercity bus.

1

Day 1:

Distance on bicycle: 5 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 142m / Down 138m

We meet in Ioannina at 11:00 in “Aigli” café, which is on Mavili Square (next to the lake).

There we will have the chance to introduce ourselves and to debrief you about the schedule of the day! Afterwards, we are going to collect our bicycles and load them on the little boat that is going to take us to the little island in the lake. There we are going to visit the house-museum of the famous “Ali Pasha” of Ioannina, cycle around the island and dine in a traditional tavern on the beach with local specialities!

Later we are going to return to Ioannina and settle our luggage in the guest house in order to cycle through the history of the old city, the citadel, the mosque of “Aslan Pasha” and the famous silversmith workshops.

This first day of our tour is going to enrich us with beautiful images and thoughts from the turbulent history of this “corner” in Greece. There is much more to come, though, so have a nice rest!

2

Day 2:

Distance on bicycle: 23 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 804m / Down 650m

A few kilometres and plenty elevations are going to tire us a little bit. The unparalleled landscapes, though, and the hospitable inhabitants of the area are going to compensate every minute of our effort.

Our day starts with a debrief at 09:00 and departure from Ioannina with our bicycles loaded at about 10:00. We will start cycling away from busy roads, from the point where the statue in memory of the heroic women of Pindus stands. During the Italian invasion in 1940, those women transferred munitions and foods, putting their lives in danger, in order to supply the Greek army.

After a while the landscape changes as we approach Vikos gorge, where we meet the first stone bridges‑jewels of the area. We make a first stop on the so called Captain Arkouda’s bridge and afterwards on the wonderful Kokkoris’ bridge at the beginning of the gorge.

After the easy cycling of the first kilometres, a small uphill follows until our first “Zagorochori”, Koukouli. There it’s worth having a break for some spoon sweet (sweet preserve) and cool water from the spring in the square. Later, we are going to descend by our bicycles the old path that connects the village with Kipoi, crossing Lazaridis’ bridge, in order to reach the unique Kalogeriko three-arched bridge, that dominates the beginning of Vikos gorge.

We complete our route going uphill until Kapesovo village, our second-day stop. We are going to overnight in “Thoukididis” guest house, where everything reveals the signature of the owner and his passion to create this place, and enjoy the view from the balcony of the square of the village.


3

Day 3:

Distance on bicycle: 9 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 602m / Down 357m

Hiking distance: 8 km
Hiking distance: Up 362m / Down 479m

Every day can offer us new experiences and discoveries.

On this day cycling and hiking share equal distances and elevations, which are going to lead us even deeper into the wonderful mountainous nature of Pindus.

After our rich home-made breakfast and the standard debrief, we are going to cycle uphill towards the remote village of Vradeto, known for its beautiful “Stairs” and Veloi trailhead, with its magnificent view to the deepest point of Vikos gorge (about 900 metres). The alpine route is rich with rare herbs and wild flowers, some of the thousands that grow in the area and that were used since the old times as drugs for the inhabitants of the area.

Upon our return to the village there will be a break in order to taste local pies and traditional Greek coffee.

In this place we are going to leave our bicycles in order to descend on foot the famous “heavenly Stairs of Vradeto”, that many people wonder whether they were built by a workman or… an artist. When we reach the exit, we are going to get into the cars until the starting point of the next old stone path that we are going to follow until Vitsa village, which is our final destination. Our rich day is going to be completed with our arrival to Vezitsa hotel, which is going to host us under the shadow of the giant platanus in the square.



4

Day 4:

Distance on bicycle: 26 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 508m / Down 972m

Hiking distance: 1,6 km
Hiking distance: Up 93m / Down 93m

A day with a lot of cycling on “lazy” easy routes that we are all going to enjoy, except for one relatively short uphill, which is going to take us close the the most beautiful village in Zagori… just a little bit more patience!

The best place to start your day is under a cool platanus together with a good breakfast consisted of pure local ingredients made with love, that are going to provide us all the energy we are going to need for all the activities that this day promises.

Uphill cycling to Monodendri built next to the steep slopes of the gorge, and visit to the monastery of Agia Paraskevi that literally suspends above the gorge.

We are going to visit the folk art exhibition with the amazing  creations of  the students of Rizarios Ecclesiastical School. Then we are going to cycle downhill for many kilometres until the remote chapel of the Three Taxiarches, where we are going to enjoy our picnic before our last ascent for the day that is going to take us across the giant “towers” of Vikos gorge!

Our day is completed after a long downhill route until the Voidomatis river with the most clear and cold waters!!

It’s a good idea to put ourselves for a while in the “music” created by the hum of its flow, to walk around its bank, and, why not, to swim in its crystal waters.

This is the place that, after every long trip in the area, we always enjoy returning to in order to draw it’s life‑giving energy!

We are going to overnight in Aristi village so that we can continue our tour.



5

Day 5:

Distance on bicycle: 22 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 1,117m / Down 771m

Hiking distance: 3 km
Hiking distance: Up 344m / Down 344m

Today is the day of “strong emotions”, it starts with easy cycling until Vikos village followed by a downhill hike to the Voidomatis river springs. It’s an amazing stop point for those who cross the gorge.

The chapel among the platanus trees served as our refuge many times in our winter excursions, and the pond that is created by the river became summer swim challenge.

Upon our return, it’s a nice idea to visit the small monastery-castle of Panagia Spiliotissa, perched on a rock next to the river with a fantastic view from its belfry.

In order to arrive at the last stop of our tour, the sublime village of Mikro Papigko, we need to ascend. It’s not, though, a simple uphill, but 10 kilometres of 800 elevation difference and 28 sharp turns.

Therefore, whoever wants can participate to this epic ascent without any external help, and if he/she manages to finish it within the 2-hour time limit, he/she will receive a commemorative numbered certification and a specially designed medal.

So, “Papigko epic” is waiting for you…

At the finish, of course, Kostas, hospitable as always, is going to “wait for” us in Dias Guesthouse , where we are going to spend our night and celebrate the last evening of our trip.



6

Day 6:

Distance on bicycle: 10 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 252m / Down 782m

On this day we have to return to Ioannina. Nevertheless, what about some “lazy” downhill cycling to the river? And a visit, maybe, to the natural ponds of the area with the beautiful stone formations along our path? Most probably, yes!

It’s settled then, and after our picnic we are going to take the cars. Furthermore, on our return it’s also a good idea to stop  to Kalpaki village, which is connected in our memories with World War II (1940). The Greek headquarters were located there and in honour of the victory of the Greek army over the Italian one (the first war defeat of the Axis Powers) a museum was build with interesting exhibits.

Our tour ends, though, upon our arrival in Ioannina.

We hope to fulfil your expectations and to see you again soon in one of our organised tours!



Departure

We wish you a nice trip!

Route specifications table

General route difficulty level:erica-weel-level-3erica-weel-level-4
Intermediate to difficult
*
Rider’s ability level (technical):In general little experience is required (except for one optional short path of 1 kilometre where very good technique is needed)*
Physical fitness:erica-weel-level-3erica-weel-level-4
Good to very good*
Bicycle type:MTB and Trekking
Distance of route:111 km in total (99 km by bicycle and 12 km on foot)
Elevation:Total of UP 3,707 m by bicycle
Total of DOWN 3,982 m by bicycle
Total of UP 912 m on foot
Total of DOWN 1,009 m on foot

* For a detailed description of our rating scale please refer to the corresponding Levels of Difficulty Tables on our website.

On this tour, we can only discover it’s well hidden beauties only if we combine hiking in parallel with cycling, due to access difficulties. Alternating between the two, though, was proved to be very pleasant and we recommend these hiking routes without any hesitation.

Everyone who is in good fitness and has intermediate knowledge of mountain biking can follow the schedule.

Of course, in every difficult part of the tour, there is always going to be the choice of the vehicle in order to get some rest.

In practice it was proved that “29er hardtail MTBs” with road tires were the best average choice for these conditions, without excluding trekking and road bikes. It’s just that with the latter ones you are going to miss part of the joy on the path from Koukouli village towards Lazaridi’s bridge (1 km where “full suspension” is needed) and on the dirt road from Vradeto village towards Beloi trailhead (1,700 m). Road biking enthusiasts can cover these few and short parts of the tour on foot when on the path and by car on the dirt road.

Price and what it includes

The participation fee for “Zagori – On the paths of it’s traditional villages” is the following for a Guided tour:

Pricesand accommodation options
€1,240single room accommodation*
€1,100double room accommodation per person*
€1,070triple room accommodation per person*

*Upon availability

For discounts for big groups, please contact us.

Full payment of the participation amount should be settled two months in advance of the scheduled start of the event.

What is included and what is not in the Guided tour

INCLUDEDAccommodations for 5 nights in 34-star hotels or guest houses (check the daily programme in the ITINERARY tab of this tour for links to the chosen hotels)
Breakfast
Snacks and drinks during the tour
5 days with light lunch (e.g., sandwiches, pies…)

2 attendants (van support driver and bilingual certificated bicycle guide with First-Aid certification)
Support vehicle during cycling tour (equipped with first-aid kit, bicycle repair kit, water and snacks)
Shuttle service during cycling tour (it will transfer luggage from one hotel to the other)
Souvenirs (jersey clothing)
Free photos
Taxes
Bicycle helmet and water flask
Day route maps (directions, distances and elevation profiles)
NOT INCLUDEDMeals
Air tickets
Hotel before and after the tour
Trip insurance
Bicycle rental (available under request)
Personal purchases and extra expenses than those mentioned above regarding the hotels
Alcoholic drinks
Transfer between Thessaloniki-Ioannina (transfer is possible under request)
Anything that is not mentioned in the Included items

zagorochoria bike tour

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