It had passed almost 3 years since the last time we visited Zagorochoria, a destination that you always want to revisit. This time, prompted the making of the tour, was the appointment that we had with a motorcyclist friend, Achilleas from Thessaloniki, with the new Suzuki V-strom 650.
On Friday, we started from Athens, Thessaloniki, Kalamata, Sakis, Manolis and Achilleas, respectively, having given an appointment at Ioannina, the home of George and always welcoming Stergianis. Though Achilleas did not know the others, quickly became familiar and good company, with the conversation lasted until the early hours.
The night-watch, however, has not been able to postpone our plans for a trip to Zagorohoria the next day. The sunny spring weather, -which is rare in the facts of Ioannina- raised the mood for an excursion. Unfortunately, professional obligations of George forced him not to follow us...
So the remaining started with destination Zagorochoria. Following the national road of Ioannina - Kozani, shortly after Kalpaki (35km.), we found the intersection of 'Aristi', where we turned right. Driving in a beautiful way after a few km we reached the traditional village of Aristi. We decided to enjoy a coffee in a small stone-paved square with view of the snowy mountains of Gkamila (mount Tymfi). Before that though, we went downhill to the small bridge of the river Voidomatis, at the road Aristi - Papigo. Voidomatis is one of the cleanest rivers in Europe. The name comes from the Slavic word «voda», it means water.
After one hour, we left Aristi with destination to the bridge of Kokkori, located just outside the village Dilofo. At the time of departure, coincidentally, we met with 2 motorcyclists from Ioannina, Thymios (Aprilia Tuono) and Dino (Suzuki v-strom650). The guys gave us some information about the way we wanted to do and we continued together.
The arched stone bridge of Kokori exemplifies a traditional Epirus architecture. After we took some pictures, we continued to Tsepelovo. The easy trail offers spectacular view of the surrounding area. Shortly after Skamnelli, we found the start of the trail leading to the village Vradeto.
In the village of Tsepelovo we farewell the guys from Ioannina and continued towards Gyftokampos. The villages from the bridge Kokori until Tsepelovo show the classic beauty and architecture of Zagorohoria, but give the impression that it is not as developed as tourist like Papigo or Aristi. The vegetation is less and there is absence of the big planes.
Shortly after Tsepelovo, however, the track gets in a magical forest of tall wild pines. In many places the road followed the bank of a tributary of Voidomatis, the crystal clear waters which came from the snowy peaks of the Mountain Tymfi. In many sunless parts of the route we met snow and many small streams. There were many times we wanted to stop and enjoy the scenery ... and of course some of them were impossible to resist.
On location 'Gyftokampos " is the sarakatsani fold. It is a fenced area in the lush forest that hosts specially designed huts, which Sarakatsani people have made an effort to capture the nomadic lifestyle. It is really interesting...
Driving towards Vrisohori reached the village Hiliochori. The guys from Ioannina had informed us about the existence of a waterfall. As it was expected we did not resist the invitation to visit it. With the bikes we reached until a beautiful stone church. From there began a path that most of it is passable. At some point becomes tiring. After about 25-30 minutes we managed to get to the waterfall ... the sight was impressive! We sat for some time looking the rushing waters fall from a height of about 20-30 meters. We did not want to leave ... We took the difficult decision, equipped with enough patience, as there was a big ascent!
We continued for the next 4km. until Vrisohori. From there began a new-paved road that led to Palaiosellio (10km). The topography of the area with a lot of water has created problems in that part of the route, which was confirmed by the many landslides / subsidence that encountered. At one point we had the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular view of the river Aoos.
In Palaiosellio we turned left toward the town of Konitsa (35km.) following a winding path with rich vegetation composed of tall wild pines. It was a unique landscape as pine trees covered the steep rocky slopes of mount Timfi. Having covered about 160km. from Ioannina (luckily we had the foresight and refuel), arrived in Konitsa. Without making a stop-by the fact that George was waiting for us to eat in Ioannina- drove to a comfortable journey Konitsa-Ioannina for the last 65km.
In the evening we were found to eat in front of the lake Pamvotis in the mole of Ioannina and discuss whatelse??? ... For the beautiful way we ride. Once again I was thinking that you never can tell how well you know Zagorohoria…