Tymfi is a mountain in the northern Pindus mountain range, northwestern Greece. It is part of the regional unit of Ioannina and lies in the region of Zagori, just a few metres south of the 40° parallel. Tymfi forms a massif with its highest peak, Gamila, at 2,497 m (8,192 ft), being the sixth highest in Greece.
As mentioned on a previous post, we have decided to do a complete thru-hike of Mount Tymfi. This is the 1st of a total 4 parts in which we will try to show you our thru-hike in this wonderful mountain that combines beautiful villages, green forests, deep canyons, rivers, high-peaks and even alpine lakes.
ARRIVING IN KAPESOVO AND VISITING BELOI
The night before starting our thru-hike we arranged our tents on a beautiful hill nearby Kapesovo Village. From there, we moved to Vradeto Village and we hiked for about 15 minutes in order to reach a location named “Beloi”. On that spot, there is a kind of a “balcony” formed by rocks from where you can see the magnitude and depth of Vikos Canyon. Once we enjoyed the stunning views, we returned to Kapesovo, got prepared for the coming demanding days, and we soon fall asleep on our tents.
After this wonderful small hike to Beloi, and the stunning views of the Canyon of Vikos, time has come to set our tents and get a comfortable sleep. On this trip, I have used the Sierra Designs Lightning 2 tent.
STARTING POINT KAPESOVO – MEZARIA GORGE
Kapesovo is a village in the Zagori region, it is 43 km north of Ioannina. The name Kapesovo is Slavic and means garden. There is a big cliff next to the village called “Kapesios” (a Slavic word that means cliff) and the name of the village might be related to it. It is from there where the Mezaria Gorge has it’s starting point. The beginning of the route starts from a beautiful rock bridge on the base of “Vradeto Stairs”. We had to do a small exposed downhill in order to end up right in the middle of the gorge.
Mezaria Gorge is not the most well known gorge of Mount Tymfi, but is a great place for canyoning. Although during August the river is dry, we enjoyed a lot to hike through the whole Mezaria gorge. At the end of Mezaria Gorge, we will meet the great canyon of Vikos. Bellow, a selection of photos from Mezaria Gorge.
VIKOS CANYON (Gorge)
The Vikos Gorge is a gorge in the Pindus Mountains of northern Greece. It lies on the southern slopes of Mount Tymfi, with a length of about 20 km, depth ranging from 450 to 1600 m and a width ranging from 400 m only a few metres at its narrowest part. Vikos is listed as the deepest gorge in the world by the Guinness Book of Records among others.
The gorge is found in the core zone of the Vikos–Aoös National Park, in the Zagori region. It begins between the villages of Monodendri and Koukouli and ends near the village of Vikos. The gorge collects the waters of a number of small rivers and leads them into the Voidomatis River which forms in the gorge. The major part of Voidomatis is only seasonal, and is permanent only at the lowest part of the gorge. Vikos is also a site of major scientific interest, because it is in almost virgin condition, it is a haven for endangered species and contains many and varied ecosystems.
In less than two hour of hike, we came across a sign that was indicating a water fountain was nearby. In such a hot day, this was looking like an oasis in the desert. The name of that fountain is “Klima” and there is all year round fresh cold water running. On that spot, we met other fellow hikers, surprisingly, most of them from Israel. After a short break for some snacks, we refilled our bottles and we moved on.
Our next stop was the baths of Voidomatis river. A paradise looking place just bellow a small church. In order to reach that location, one has to move towards Vikos village, but before the traditional stairs that leads to Vikos, should take the right path towards the little church. Once arrived there, we refreshed our selves with the icy-cold water of the river. That is a spot that almost all hikers stop by for a while, because besides the beautiful location is also fully covered by the trees.
After a rather longer break to take a swim in the icy-cold river water, we moved ahead towards our final destination of the first day, Mikro Papingo.
Papingo is a former community in the Ioannina regional unit, Epirus, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Zagori, of which it is a municipal unit. It is located in the Vikos–Aoös National Park.
Papingo actually consists of two villages: Megalo Papingo (Greek: Μεγάλο Πάπιγκο) and Mikro Papingo (Greek: Μικρό Πάπιγκο), big and small Papingo. The only access road for cars first takes you to Megalo Papingo and a kilometre further to Mikro Papingo.
The area and the neighbouring Vikos Gorge attracts many hikers and mountaineers from around the world. The Vikos Gorge is the largest canyon in Greece and (disputably) in all of Europe: it has the greatest depth to width ratio – as shown in the Guinness Book of Records 1997.
We needed almost 12 hours to cross the Mezaria Gorge and the Vikos Canyon, and it was almost dark by the time we reached Mikro Papingo. As soon we reached Mikro Papingo, we had some rest, prepared some dinner and then we moved on for another 10 minutes hike in order to find a small church which also has a water fountain. That was the location where we decided to set up camp for the night and to have rest.
In the coming days, there will be the 2nd part of the Mount Tymfi (Pindos) Thru-Hike, so make sure to come back to this blog to see the exciting second part which consist of arriving to the Astraka Shelter and the Astraka Peak.