Day 245 Mikro Papingo, Vikos National Park, Northern Greece.

Last night in our village you could have heard a pin drop. A real treat after days of camping grounds, with their inevitable late night chatting groups, barking dogs and camper van doors opening and closing throughout the night.

This morning, we were greeted by the hotel’s superb breakfast – all home-made, which included fresh fruit, yoghurt, some sort of cheese pie, salad, eggs, pancakes, home-made preserves and a tea infusion made with the local mountain herbs. After that lot, we felt like we needed some exercise!

We opted to take the walk down into the gorge. Vikos Gorge is 12 kilometres long and 900 metres deep, the world’s deepest canyon in proportion to its width, according to Guinness. The walk was inevitably steep, but the path was well-trod, and thankfully dry at this time of year. Another bonus, was that for the most part it was shaded by the mountainside trees, which helped keep us a modicum cooler. On the first stretch of the walk out of the village, we followed an old hunched over lady, dressed in a thick black dress, and using two sticks, to negotiate her way down the steep path. After fifty yards or so, she opening a gate by the path, and walked into her well-tended vegetable garden, growing beans, pumpkins and courgettes. She must have looked at least eighty years old – quite a feat to be still gardening in these conditions!

As we clambered down the mountainside, the flora and fauna was varied. We passed by many beautiful wild flowers, attracting a profusion of brightly coloured butterflies – orange, yellow and sapphire blue. Fortunately, we didn’t come across any of the brown bears that are known to frequent these parts. Eventually, we started to hear the sound of water, and came to the river that flows through the canyon. At the side of the water, some bright red reed was growing – quite eye-catching and very unusual.

The walk back up the mountain was arduous and hot, but we egged ourselves on by promising ourselves a home-made ice-cream that we had seen advertised in our local village cafe. Sadly though, we arrived to find out that all the ice-cream had just been finished for the day – so we made-do with a cool drink instead. Probably much better for our waist lines too!

The rest of the day we have just been chilling out. We have done a little bit of planning, and I have been attempting to download photos onto the blog. The only downside of staying somewhere as remote as this, is that the Wifi sucks, so I may have to delay the photos until I get a stronger signal.

This part of Northern Greece has been a revelation. I cannot commend it enough. If you ever get a chance to visit this part of the world, away from all the trippers on the islands, then do so. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

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