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October 2, 2015

Prespes Lakes

The National Park of Prespa encompasses the lakes of Mikri and Megali Prespa- in part-, which are separated by a sandy islet of alluvial sediment and are encompassed by tall mountains. Extensive reed beds of Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia, and Scrirpus lacustris, Carex spp. occupy the shores of the lake. There are also characteristic formations of aquatic plants which are rooted in the depths, with large floating leaves, often with a layer of underwater species.

The area has rich fauna as a result of the great variety of natural habitats and its topography. The lakes are important for the breeding of aquatic birds. In total more than 200 species have been observed at the lakes and the surrounding forest. Particularly notable are the colonies of Pelecanus crispus (wild pelicans) and of Pelecanus onocrotalus (red pelicans). The marine fauna of the lake is of importance due to the large rate of endemism. At the sub-species level, 80% of the fish are endemic. Finally, the area is rich in historic and religious monuments.

A large number of Greek and foreign visitors and travelers come to the famous lakes – water borders of Greece, of former Yugoslavia and Albania. They lie 850 m. above the sea-level and have a depth of 50 m. Their shores at many places are steep and rocky. In other places they are calm and have rich vegetation. Mikri Prespa is on the left of the central road and is separated by Megali Prespa by a narrow strip of land 1,000 m. The whole region is an attraction and has been designated as a National Park. The shores of Mikri Prespa, with thick reeds, host pelicans, wild ducks and many other species of rare birds which attract the interest of international scientific institutes. Two roads lead to Prespa. One comes from Florina and the other from Kastoria. They intersect at Prevali. In the large village, Laimos of Prespa, 50 km from Florina, the road separates once again. One of its parts leads to Saint Germanos, the largest village of Prespa and the other part to the outpost of Koulas. On the rocky shores of Mikri Prespa you can see caves with walls full of hagiography. Prespa is about 45 km west from Florina and 50 km north from Kastoria.

Source: http://www.visitgreece.gr

In Macedonia, there is an infinite watercolour of migratory birds, ancient settlements and stories from the depths of time

Two high-altitude lakes and three countries (Greece, Albania and Fyrom) that peacefully share their waters. Here in Northern Greece, there is an undefined borderline where no creature needs a passport, whether human, fish or fowl. The whole area around the lakes is called Prespa by residents of Greece, Albania and Fyrom. It’s a veritable ark of wildlife and culture.


The National Park of Prespes: Lakes, valleys and age-old cedars

The core of the National Park covers all of Mikri (Small) Prespa and a few lakeside areas, giving it a unique identity that was formalised in 1973 by the Ramsar Convention as an International Protected Wetland. The wetland of Mikri Prespa with its boggy valleys and reedbeds constitutes the nucleus of the protected area. A second zone includes the ancient cedar forest near Mt Devas.

Hermitages and rock paintings of Prespes

From Psarades, the little village smack dab in the middle of Megali (Big) Prespa, you can set out in a small boat for a different kind of voyage. The natural beauty, along with its remote location, attracted many monks during the Ottoman occupation, who built their hermitages along the shores of the bigger lake. Today these small monastic structures, as well as the rock frescoes from the 14th-16th century, are attractions that will give you an insight into another era. The boat ties up at an improvised jetty at the base of the rock. Leap out and start exploring.

The dance of the pelicans

The birds of Prespa play the leading roles in this adventure. And, yes, they even dance. They follow the thermal currents in the air and begin to form circles. As they rise, the radius of the circles they trace grows. One behind the other, until the whole flock is drawing circles in the air. When the leader perceives that it has flown higher than the 2000m high Mt Varnoundas, it suddenly breaks the circle and leaves. The rest copy him and off they go. But where? Like us, they’ll travel to other lakes, such as their beloved Kerkini to the east. And when they tire of that, they’ll be back.

Agios Achillios: the basilica in the heart of Prespa

The perfect photo op, this island setting has heard the click of millions of cameras and the whirr of countless videos. It isn’t just the Macedonian scenery. Thousand-year-old memories and monuments veiled in myths and legends form the ‘heart’ of Prespa. This is where Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria built a magnificent basilica especially for the mummified remains of Saint Achillios, an early bishop of Larissa in Thessaly, when he conquered that city in the 10th century. Today this romantic ruin is the most important site in Prespa. The island is reachable by a long wooden bridge.

Psarades on Megali Prespa

The road ends at Psarades, which means fishermen, and you will see lots of them. Built at the end of a natural fjord on the big lake, it will remind you of an Aegean village. It has been declared a listed settlement.

Agios Germanos and its 11th-century church

The largest of the Prespa villages, Agios Germanos or Gherman snuggles under the rugged bulk of Mt Varnoundas and is the trademark of the area. Here you’ll find two churches joined together. The smaller one dates from the 11th century and is of inestimable value. The larger 19th-century church appears glued to it, as if it’s trying to drain its ethereal energy.

Source: http://www.discovergreece.com

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