A very popular hiking destination, mount Tymfi is located in the region of Zagori, in Ipeirus. Its lower slopes are covered in cedar, beech and oak forests, which give way to pines and firs on higher altitudes. Rare mammals, including otters, wolves and brown bears, and birds, like the golden eagle and the shore lark, find shelter in the region, while rare amphibians inhabit the high-altitude alpine lakes, with the biggest, Drakolimni, located at over 2,000 meters.
The massif of Tymfi- part of the northern Pindus range- encloses the impressive Vikos Gorge, home to the springs of Voidomatis river, which flows to the mountain’s southwest until it meets Aoos river, which seperates Tymfi from nearby mount Trapezitsa. The mountain’s steep cliffs and rocky peaks were formed between 37 and 150 years ago.
Despite the region’s protected status- it has been designated a national park since 1973- illegal hunting remains a serious threat. Throughout the Pindus range, wild animals continue to be killed just for “fun”- or as proofs of their killer’s “manhood”. The hunters are almost never found, probably because they are still tolerated by the local community.
Tymfi is suitable for hiking all year long.
Several trails cross the mountain, while adventure-seekers will not be disappointed by the great number of cliffs and steep edges. An exploration of the entire mountain will take you several days. Deep vertical caves may be observed behind Astraka peak and on the mountain’s southern slopes. Best known among them are the Hole of Odysseus and Chasm of Epos (451 meters deep), both named after mythology.
(Gamila) 2,497 m.
495 km from Athens
314 km from Thessaloniki
Astraka mountain hut: tel. (+30) 26530 41138, 26530 41257
Mikro Papingo- Astraka mountain hut- Drakolimni: Start at Mikro Papingo village. The path’s opening is near the village entrance, on your right side, and its first part is paved. Walk next to the last row of houses and then head left. You should be able to see rocky Astraka peak on your right. In about five minutes, you will come to a small resting point. It is advisable to fill your bottles at the spring, since the next one is much higher up.
The path- part of the Greek national trail O3- ascends through the forest and is clearly waymarked, while several smaller branches allow you to save time and effort. After about 1,5 hour’s walk, the trees give way to lower, alpine vegetation. The path is clear and well-trodden, making it difficult to get lost. An old, ruined sign points the way towards Astraka, to the right; you should head straight until you reach another spring, which may be hidden under snow during the winter.
The mountain hut is located on a col, right in front of you. Head towards it; Astraka is on your right, while Xerolimni (dry lake), is just behind the building. Despite its name, the lake is filled with water- and frogs- in the springtime. After passing the shelter, continue towards Xerolimni and Tsoumani sheep fold; then straight ahead, crossing the stream. On your right is Ploskos peak, with its impressive rock formations.
Soon the trail begins to ascend, and two low peaks become visible in the distance- Drakolimni lies between them. Once at the lake, you should be able to see Gamila peak on your right and Trapezitsa straight ahead; the mountains visible in the distance are Smolikas and Vasilitsa.
Human settlement in the region is believed to have began 17,000 to 10,000 years ago, and continued almost uninterrupted throughout the historical times. Stone age artefacts were discovered on the banks of Voidomatis river, while a small settlement dating between the 9th and the 4th century B.C. was unearthed between villages Monodendri and Vitsa.
Tymfi is surrounded by beautiful traditional villages, which are part of the Zagorochoria region. Konitsa bridge, taking its name from the nearby village, is made of stone and is worth a short stop, as is Voidomatis bridge near Klidonia village.
Vikos gorge, with its dense forests and the springs of Voidomatis river, is a very popular hiking destination. Lazaridis ethnographic museum houses images and specimens from rare plant species growing in the gorge. On a hot day, you may attempt a dive into the small lakes created along the river, within a small gorge near Mikro Papingo. To get there, look for a wooden sign, situated approximately 500 meters from the village.
There is no ski center on Tymfi, but the mountain is suitable for backcountry skiing.
author – photographer: Panos Bampaloukas