Meteora

Greece: Zagori & Meteora Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
Greece
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TVQ
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Moderate / Challenging

You are moderately fit and have an interest in remote or challenging environments. Some previous experience is required for activity based trips.

8 Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Unknown to most of the world, both beautiful and unspoiled, the Zagori area is one of the best walking regions in Greece. Learn more about the myths and stories and history of the area, observe the unique flora and fauna and taste the delicious local cuisine. Walk amongst traditional stone made villages, arch stone bridges, gorges, mountains and pristine natural landscapes in Vikos-Aoos National Park, recognised as a UNESCO Geopark Network. Follow this with the chance to visit the UNESCO Worldwide Heritage Site of Meteora, exploring the trails of the ancient monks and clifftop monasteries.

At a Glance

  • 3 full days and 3 half days point to point walking
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus leader
  • Travel by private bus
  • Altitude maximum 2050m, average 1100m
  • 6 nights 3-star hotels/traditional guesthouses and 1 night in a mountain refuge

Trip Highlights

  • Vikos Gorge and the Zagori arch stone bridges
  • Hike to the stunning Dragon Lake
  • Spectacular Meteora- 'columns in the sky'

Is This Trip for You?

Activity Level 4: Moderate/Challenging

On this trip, we have three full days and three half days of trekking.  The terrain will include footpaths and mountain terrain, which can be quite rocky and loose in places with sloped ascents and descents. A good level of fitness is required. Previous trekking experience is desirable but not vital as long as you are confident of your physical condition. The walks take between 5.5 and 7.5 hours and require a moderate level of fitness.

The trek to Dragon Lake has some more challenging sections and we need to carry our personal belongings for the night and sleeping bag/liner with us (there are no porters available).  Your main luggage will be left in Papingo village and you will collect it the following day. Whilst on this trek we spend the night in a comfortable refuge with dorm rooms and bunk beds, therefore, depending on the formation of the group, these may have to be used as mixed-dorms.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Thessaloniki
End City:
Thessaloniki

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Thessaloniki

    The group flights usually arrive into Thessaloniki in the early afternoon and the group will be met and transferred to the start hotel. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon. In the evening our guide will hold a welcome meeting to discuss the week ahead, give advice on the local area and answer any questions.

    After the briefing, you can opt for a walking tour of the city so you can discover its major highlights and learn a bit more about the city. Duration: 2-2.5hrs



    Accommodation: El Greco Hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    To Monodendri, walk to the byzantine church of Agia Paraskevi and then to the Oxya viewpoint

    We depart from Thessaloniki after breakfast and transfer to Zagori area (around 4 hrs). Upon arrival in Monodendri, we will have a picnic lunch. Our first stop is the Rizarios Photography museum which hosts temporary photo exhibitions of Greek photographers as well as the stereoscopic cameras brought by English journalists to Greece to capture the first modern Olympic Games in 1896! In the late afternoon we will take a short walk (approx. 1.5 hr) to the to Agia Paraskevi byzantine church (built in the 14th century), which offers our first panoramic view of Vikos gorge. After that, we’ll head to Oxya viewpoint with its breath-taking view of the Gorge. From there we will stop at the stone forest before arriving at our guesthouse for the next two nights. 

    Accommodation: Selini Guesthouse or similar
    Guesthouse

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 3 km / 2 miles
    Activity (hours):
    2
  • Day 3

    Morning walk through the Vradeto steps up to Vradeto and the Beloi viewpoint. Afternoon walk the beautiful stone arch bridges of Zagoria

    After breakfast we start our hike from the village of Kapesovo down to a small canyon and then upwards, through the beautiful Vradeto steps (stone path built in the 16th century) towards the highest village of Zagori, Vradeto (1340m). From there, following a beautiful path we arrive at Beloi viewpoint (1450m), where we can enjoy panoramic views over Vikos gorge. We return to Vradeto village and from there back to Kapesovo village. After a picnic lunch, we will visit some of the most important and beautiful stone arch bridges of Zagoria, such as Kokoris, Plakidas, Milou, Pitsioni and Kontodima bridges. Most of the stone bridges were built during the 17th and 18th centuries as a means of moving in between the villages and are masterpieces of the local architecture. There are several different trails connecting the bridges we can choose from today, depending on the interest of the group.

    Please note: the distance of the walk may vary depending on the route chosen for the stone bridges walk. 


    Accommodation: Selini Guesthouse or similar
    Guesthouse

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 17 km / 11 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    700
    Total descent (m):
    700
    Activity (hours):
    7.5
  • Day 4

    Walk through Vikos-Aoos N.P. and the Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest in the world

    Today we will hike along one of the most beautiful, impressive and rewarding hiking paths in the area. We transfer to Monodendri village, and from here we descend down to Vikos Gorge, said to be one of the deepest gorges in the world. Walking parallel to the river, it will take us about 6.5-7.5 hours to walk this part of the canyon. Traversing the ravine, we can admire the rare varieties of wild birds and flowers that have found their habitat in Vikos-Aoos National Park. We will stop at the river springs to relax and eat our picnic lunch. Depending on the season, you can also swim in the river! In the afternoon, we arrive at Vikos village where we will be picked up and transferred to the delightful Papingo village for dinner and overnight stay.

    Accommodation: Nikos & Ioulia guesthouse or similar
    Guesthouse

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 15 km / 9 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    400
    Total descent (m):
    600
    Activity (hours):
    7
  • Day 5

    Hike to the stunning alpine Dragon Lake at 2050m

    After an early breakfast, we start our trek today from Papingo village up through captivating alpine scenery towards the ‘Dragon Lake’ and our mountain refuge.  We will arrive at the refuge in the early afternoon, and after a short break for our picnic lunch, will then continue to the beautiful ‘Dragon Lake’, situated at 2050m. Towards the end of spring/beginning of summer, there might still be some snow present. The view of this magical landscape will definitely reward you after a long day!  We’ll return to our mountain refuge where we spend the night. It can feel cold here at night so it is important to bring layers.

    Accommodation: Astraka Refuge
    Mountain Refuge

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7.5 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    1500
    Total descent (m):
    500
    Activity (hours):
    8.5
  • Day 6

    Final day in the Zagori area, walk to Papingo village; visit Ovires natural swimming pools. To Meteora

    After breakfast at the mountain refuge, we will descend back to Papingo village. This is our last day in the Zagori area, and we cannot leave without making a stop at the natural swimming pools in Ovires. During the summer months, you can also enjoy swimming in the crystal clear waters of the river!  Before leaving Papingo village there will be time for a lovely lunch in one of the family run restaurants before we depart for the UNESCO Worldwide Heritage site of Meteora (2.5 hrs driving distance). We aim to arrive in Meteora at sunset, going to several viewpoints where we can enjoy panoramic views over Kalampaka plain and the stone forest of Meteora. 

    Max Altitude 1950m

    Please note: The exact order of activities upon arrival in Meteora will be modified for the optimization of the itinerary, depending on the season (sunset). 

    Accommodation: Meteoritis hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 6 km / 3.7 miles
    Total descent (m):
    1000
    Activity (hours):
    3
  • Day 7

    Walk through the spectacular rock pillars of Meteora stone forest; visit cliff-top monastery. To Thessaloniki

    What a better way to start your day than admiring the spectacular rock pillars of Meteora stone forest? After breakfast, we will explore this unique landscape on foot, following the hiking paths of the ancient monks followed by a visit to one of the top-cliff monasteries of the area.
    The area of Meteora was initially inhabited by monks who lived in caves within the rocks during the 11th century. In the late 12th century, a small church called the Panaghia Doupiani was built at the foot of one of the rocks, but during the Turkish occupation it became less secure so the monks climbed higher and higher up the rocks to protect themselves from different conquerors. Numerous monasteries were systematically built on top of the rocks so by the end of the 15th century there were 24 constructed in total; today only 6 of them are still active. The monks had to climb up ladders or use baskets and ropes to transfer the material for the construction of these monasteries and until 1920 this was the only means for getting supplies. In the afternoon, we will return back to Thessaloniki. In the evening we will have a final meal together at one of the local restaurants (at own expense).

    Accommodation: El Greco hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 6 km / 3.7 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    300
    Total descent (m):
    300
    Activity (hours):
    3
  • Day 8

    End Thessaloniki

    Our adventure ends after breakfast.  Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport in time for their flight to London.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Hotels, Guesthouses & Mountain Refuge

On this trip we will stay at small, comfortable, family run hotels or guesthouses, where possible choosing traditional hotels that highlight the local architecture of each destination. Most hotels will offer free WiFi. 

For one night we will stay at a mountain refuge which is comprised of dorm rooms and bunk beds. For this reason, it may be necessary to use the rooms as mixed dorms where men and women may be sleeping in the same room.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £150.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 3 picnic lunches and 2 dinners included.

Simple buffet style Greek breakfast consists of bread/toast, butter, jam, fresh juice, milk, local yoghurt, eggs and honey, and coffee/tea.

Picnic lunches are prepared by our team each day and will include a sandwich, cereal bar/fruit and juice.

The included dinners are homemade dinners including local ingredients, with a mix of salad and starters for the group to share and a main course and dessert for everyone.

It is possible to cater for vegetarians or clients with special requirements, however please make sure you will advise your Sales Consultant at time of booking or our Customer Operations department before departure.

We suggest you allow approximately €12-€17 each for meals not included, more if you include alcoholic or expensive fruit juice drinks with each meal.

Transportation

A comfortable air-conditioned bus is used throughout the trip.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Daytime temperatures will be between 12-24º in May and October, and there is some chance of rain.  Night time temperatures will be cooler (8-15º); at the mountain refuge it will be much colder (3-6º overnight).

In June and September it will be fairly warm, with daytime temperatures between 18-26º, and it will generally be dry with only a small chance of rain.  Night time temperatures will be cooler (13-18º); at the mountain refuge it will be much colder (5-7º overnight).

In July and August it will be quite warm and dry. Daytime temperatures will be between 20-28º. Night time temperatures will be a bit cooler (18-23º); at the mountain refuge it will be quite cold (7-10º overnight).

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 8 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of British Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 8 days starting and ending in Thessaloniki

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Thessaloniki in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Thessaloniki
Location end:
Thessaloniki

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Daysack of 30-40 litre capacity

Walking boots (with good tread and ankle support)

Water bottles/Camelbak (1L-2L)

Comfortable shoes for the evenings

Lightweight waterproof jacket and wind stopper

Warm jumper or fleece for evenings

Sunscreen, sun-hat, sunglasses

Sleeping bag liner, head torch and light towel for the night at the refuge. (blankets and pillows are provided at the refuge)

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impacts wherever possible, this goes for when you need to spend a penny in the great outdoors! If no facilities are available there may come a time when you need to go to the loo behind a tree/bush/rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind we recommend taking biodegradable dog poo/sandwich bags with you. Once you have done your business you can pop the used toilet roll in here and take it off the mountain or trail at the end of the day and dispose of it when there are appropriate facilities available.

Optional Equipment

Walking poles (if you prefer your own - some will be provided)

Swimwear

Towel

Practical Information

Passport

Greece

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Greece

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Ticks are known to be present in this region and can carry Lyme disease, Tick-Borne Encephalitis and other diseases. Please take care to protect yourself. You can read more about ticks here.

Vaccination

Greece

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Greece's Timezone:
Europe/Athens EEST (GMT +03:00)

Electricity

Greece's Electricity:

230 Volts. Plug types C & F; establishments take European, two round pin, plugs.

Money

Greece's Currency

The national currency of Greece is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (September 2017) of approximately 1.1 to the GBP, 0.8 to the USD, 0.7 to the CAD, 0.7 to the AUD and 0.6 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

In Thessaloniki and Meteora there are ATMs available and payment by credit cards is possible. However, in the villages of Zagori there is only one ATM available in one of the villages and few places accept payment by credit card, so it is highly recommended to have enough cash money with you for all the 5 days in Zagori.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We suggest you allow approximately €120-180 for food and drink.

Tipping

Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus, however most of our clients wish to give a tip to their guides and in appreciation of their help and friendliness. This, of course, is in no way compulsory and depends on the service received. If you feel you would like to leave a tip, as a guide we would suggest a total of approximately €30 per person in total on this itinerary to be broken down as follows:
€20 for the leader
€10 for the driver

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.