Agrafa is a densely forested mountainous region in mainland Greece, divided in West, East and Northern Agrafa and extending from the outskirts of Mount Tymfristos to Tavropos artificial lake. The rivers Agrafiotis and Tavropos both spring from Agrafa – an area of exceptional natural beauty, which remains pristine thanks to its remoteness. Mountaineers have a large number of destinations to choose from, including seven peaks that exceed 2,000 meters in height and several more with an altitude around 1,900 m. The most popular among them are Liakoura, Voutsikaki, Krava and Fteri, while most hikers prefer to access the mountain from Tavropos lake. There is an extensive network of mountain tracks and forest roads connecting the area’s villages- though most of them are inaccessible after heavy snowfall. Because of the region’s size and the considerable natural obstacles, a proper visit should last several days.
Karava: 2184 m
330 km from Athens
240 km from Thessaloniki
Agrafa shelter Karamanolis: + 30 698 858 6292
Elatakos: Self-organized mountain hut next to Zygogianeika village (free accommodation)
Agrafa shelter- Tembla- Voutsikaki: After Tavropos lake, ascend towards Neraida village and then follow the road towards the ski center. In recent years, the forest road has been replaced by asphalt, but determined hikers can still take the mountain track starting from the village; encounters with cars are almost inevitable, as the trail crosses the road several times. From the shelter, take the path leading to the end of the ski piste. From this point onwards the slope becomes steeper. Keep Tembla peak to your left and traverse until you come just below the top, then turn left to reach the trigonometrical point. You should now be able to see Voutsikaki peak.
Keep walking on the ridge, avoiding the rocks from the left side, then descend to the col, which is known as Petsalouda. You may wish to rest awhile at this point, before moving on to the last, hardest part of the route. Ascend the steep slope from the right side until the mountain’s crater is right in front of you. Head left towards the peak, taking special care as the path becomes narrow and quite risky, espescially when the wind is strong. During the winter months, you must bring crampons with you. The peak is relatively flat and offers a panorama of nearby peaks (Karava, Delidimi and others).
The Agrafa region enjoyed relative autonomy during the Ottoman occupation of Greece. The word agrafa literally translates to “unwritten” or uncharted- because the area and its population were not recorded in the Sultan’s tax register. Many Greek guerilla fighters, including Katsantonis and Georgios Karaiskakis, took refuge in the mountains during the Greek War of Independence.
Pay attention to the area’s many hand-crafted stone bridges. One of them is near Kerasia village, at a spot known as Ennea Vrysses. Tavropos lake is ideal for camping and walking; alrnatively, you may rent a canoe or bicycle. Asprorema gorge, linking the settlements of Asprorema and Ekklisies, can be accessed from Epiana.
A small ski center, with just one piste, operates outside Neraida village. However, the region is ideal for backcountry skiing.
author – photographer: Panos Bampaloukas