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November 2, 2015

Vikos Gorge

The 12km-long, 900m-deep Vikos Gorge, bisecting the Zagorohoria, is the world’s deepest, according to Guinness. It begins south of Monodendri, running north until the Papingo villages.

Ioannina’s EOS advises on weather conditions and provides maps and information. You’ll need water, stout walking boots and some endurance for the almost seven-hour hike.

Monodendri is a popular starting point. Here, survey the gorge from the 15th-century Moni Agia Paraskevi. A steep, marked path into the gorge begins the four-hour walk; at canyon’s end a right-hand trail leads to Mikro Papingo (2½ hours). Megalo Papingo is a further 2km west, but the track splits at the hike’s base. The only water is at Klima Spring, halfway along the gorge.

If you stop hiking at Vikos, south of Papingo, the square’s kafeneio owner will drive you to Monodendri for €40 (taxis cost double). Vikos, 5km northeast of Aristi, has accommodation and excellent views.

Oxya Lookout, 5km beyond Monodendri on a good dirt road, has fantastic gorge views, as does Beloi Lookout opposite. To get there, drive 9km on a winding road or go to Vradeto (from the signposted turn-off near Kapesovo), and hike 1.5km along a marked trail after the dirt road (it’s a bumpy drive). Vradeto is set along striated limestone cliffs. For the Beloi Lookout, climb the rock stairway, Skala Vradetou, signposted outside Tsepelovo, another relaxing base for hiking northern Zagorohoria sites like the Drakolimni (Dragon Lake). It has a post office, card phone, and good accommodation and eating options.

Source: http://www.lonelyplanet.com

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