On Foot Holidays, one of Europe’s leading self-guided walking tour operators, is offering Australian self-propelled nature lovers a new hiking destination – the Vikos Gorge in Epirus, Greece.
While many Australians may have never heard of it, the Vikos Gorge is one of the world’s deepest gorges, plunging more than 500m and stretching for 17km in the Pindos Mountains of northern Greece. The hike also includes two nights on the island of Corfu with its beaches, hill country and Venetian township, and a visit to the world-famous monasteries of Meteora, perched high on towering rock pinnacles.
The package includes seven nights’ bed and breakfast (or nine including the Meteora extension), two dinners, three picnics, some taxi transfers and luggage transfers between hotels – meaning walkers simply carry a day pack.
The journey begins with two nights in Corfu town, where guests can explore the Venetian fortress which successfully repulsed three major Ottoman sieges in the 16th and 18th centuries, as well as the narrow alleyways of the old town. A number of walks are available in different parts of the island, including visits to the hill country and the rugged west coast with its sandy beaches. Travellers will then travel by ferry to the old stone village of Kapesovo where they will stay at the Guest House Thoukididis, a family-run establishment set in a recreated merchant’s house.
After a traditional Greek breakfast, guests will climb up the Vradehto steps and marvel at the engineering skills of the 19th century Greeks. Hikers will then visit the quiet village of Vradehto and catch their first glimpse of the spectacular Vikos Gorge before returning to Kapesovo for the night. A highlight of the walk will be a journey down through the gorge where walkers can stop for a swim before climbing up to the village of Papingo. The next day, hikers can visit the breathtaking Dragon Lake and stay at a mountain hut 1930m above sea level.
The recommended two-day extension will take guests to Meteora, where they will visit the famous Grand Meteora and Barlaam monasteries. Built in the 14th century for Greek orthodox monks and nuns, the monasteries were once climbed by ropes and ladders but are now accessible via steps cut into the cliffs. The popular tourist destinations have been used as locations in various films including the 1981 James Bond movie ‘For Your Eyes Only’.
September, October, May, June and July are the best months to walk, while August and November are also possibilities. The walk is of medium-hard difficulty with three to seven walking hours each day.
The package costs from £675 per person (approx. A$1359 subject to change), twin-share. A £160 single room supplement is also available. Including the two nights at Meteora, the package costs from £790 (approx. A$1590). Prices vary from low to high seasons.
Based in the UK and specialising in the ‘art of slow travel’, On Foot Holidays offers walkers around the world 24 self-guided tours across unspoilt areas of Europe for independent travellers who prefer intimate encounters with destinations. Walkers can select their own departure dates and all routes are designed by locals and tested by staff from On Foot Holidays.