Most Greek and foreign tourists connect Greece with its summer and exotic beaches. The unrivaled beauty of this country, this tiny dot on the map of the earth, has not only beautiful islands, but also a fantastic mainland.
Impressive mountains, waterfalls, crystal-clear rivers, torrents and beautiful lowlands and mountain lakes complete the setting of Greece that really has it ALL!
How is it possible to find them all in one place?
My trip to the "other" Greece started about 15 years ago, when I decided to try river rafting (downstream with an inflatable boat) by taking part in an organized excursion after friends' encouragement. That was it! I was literally amazed of Greece`s mountainous beauties and began to make long walks to the mountains almost every weekend. All these years, I travel through the mainland and discover new places, new destinations, that I have never heard anything about in the past.
Even if you travel for a lifetime to this blessed place is not enough to see it all ... Thousands of hidden villages are emerging through ravines, small settlements that you cannot find on the map, also great beautiful villages carrying a long history for centuries. Bubbling springs with crystal clear waters and waterfalls adorn the entrance to these villages, such as Kallarites and Syrrako in Tzoumerka, two of the most beautiful villages in Europe.
Inside and out of the heavenly mountain waters
From the "Amazon of Greece", Nestos river in Thrace, with its white sandy beaches and endless fjords, to Voidomatis in Epirus, with its freezing and crystal clear waters and from the wavy river Trikeriotis in the prefecture of Evrytania to the popular Evinos , known as the "baptism" of rafting, our rivers are a terrestrial paradise.
Of an unparalleled beauty, is the canyon of Lousios, which is also called "Mount Athos of Peloponnese", as there are old churches, monasteries on steep rocks and several ascetics, created during the Middle Byzantine and post-Byzantine period. The twins Lousios and Alpheos River in Arcadia on Peloponnese, are one of the most important sights of Gortynia and are famous for the river activities. They attract tourists from around the world. A typical scenery you can see on the river banks is Greek and foreign campers, who rank it amongst Europe's most beautiful rivers for natural beauty and for the technical difficulty of passages, suitable all year round for beginners and advanced at the canoe-kayak, rafting, monoraft, etc. For those who do not want to do extreme sports, river trekking is the ideal choice for enjoying the tranquility and the wild nature of the country's canyons. On the banks of our rivers it is possible to camp for one-day or multiple-day getaway excursions. There are no organized camp grounds. For those who prefer the comforts of a room, warm wooden chalets or stone houses or apartments with a fireplace, simple or luxurious, a breath away from the banks of rivers and lakes, are ideal accommodation suggestions for all budgets.
Mountain beaches with easy access to the lakes and rivers, with spaces to set up your tent, mild water flow, so that one can swim safely during the summer months - and for the bold also during winter -, can easily be found at most of the rivers in Greece. During the summer months, the natural air-condition created by the air that passes by the cool waters of the rivers and is filtered by the plane trees, combined with pure oxygen, cannot be compared to dew at any seaside location. The prefecture of Evritania, drowned in the green, is one of the most ideal places for alternative tourism in our country. It has one of the oldest and most remarkable ski resorts, only a few minutes from the center of Karpenisi. It has beautiful riparian villages, relaxing places next to the gargling waters of Karpenissiotis and Tauropus rivers. You can also find the lake of Kremastas, the largest artificial lake of Greece, with turquoise waters, on the borders of the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania and Evritania. On the inaccessible mountain peaks of Epirus you can find some picturesque alpine lakes, known as "Dragon Lakes". Their name brings to your mind dragon fairy tales and indeed they are surrounded by rich legends and traditions. The green or gray color of the mountains is been decorated by the blue color of the lakes’ waters. Places of exceptional natural beauty offer relaxation and tranquility to nature lovers during winter and summer.
As Panagiotis Kotronaros, the mountain guru (climber and leader of the first and only successful Greek mission to the top of Mount Everest and owner of the website Basecamp.gr) says, "The Mountain requires respect. The importance is not to reach the top, but to enjoy the journey! When you understand the nature and the mountains, you get to know better yourself and that can change the way you see the difficulties of life, since from there everything seems smaller! "
Text & Photos: Stefania Anagnostopoulou