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Prespes in 3 days

Prespes in 3 days
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Prespes in 3 days

A perfect proposal for the ultimate experience in Prespes!


Regardless of the type of your excursion, your first visual contact with the Prespa Valley has to be from Pervali, where it is worth stopping for a few minutes to enjoy the view.

 

Day 1: Tour in Prespes western area


Agios Achilleios – Psarades – Pyli - Vrontero 


While crossing the narrow strip of land that separates Small and Great Prespa Lakes, you can watch pelicans and other aquatic birds flying cheerfully and proudly from their nests in Small Prespa towards their usual feeding grounds in Great Prespa. To you left (south), you can also watch groups of graylag geese, a usually migratory species with a static population in Prepses.


The picturesque Agios Achilleios island in Small Prespa Lake is one ofthe two inhabited lake islands in Greece. You will reach the Krina area just opposite the island with your vehicle. Climbing the hill above the parking lot you will have an unobstructed view of the lakes and, if you carry binoculars or a telescope with you, during March-July you will be able to get first class images of the huge colonies of pelicans (Dalmatian pelicans and Great white pelicans), for which Prespes are famous. Walk across the footbridge connecting the island to the mainland, and look at the aquatic birds’ colonies at the reedbeds in the east (left) side. Discover the island’s churches, especially Agios Achilleios Basilica (10th century AD) whose ruins dominate the landscape due to their size. In the southern area of the island also visit the Panagia Porphyra Monastery, and look at the amazing wall paintings of the 18th century.


Enjoy the unique scenery from the hill above the village and watch the wet meadows that resemble a vegetation-free ring around the island. These wet meadows are created by large animal farming and are key to the biodiversity of the area. The full route by foot from Krina to the monastery and back is just 5 km. Alternatively, you can take the solar-electric boats of the Municipality of Prespa for a 40’ tour around the island.


Psarades is one of Greece’s most beautiful villages and the only Greek village on Great Prespa. On the way to the village, it is worth a stop at the road turn where an observation binocular is placed with a spectacular view of the area between the lakes and the border between Greece and North Macedonia. Shortly after is the chapel of Agios Georgios built in an impressive thicket of old-growth junipers (cedars). In Psarades you can wander around the village and enjoy the delicious fish of the lake and especially the dry-salted tsironia which is one of the tastiest local delicacies and of course the grivadia (carp), while you can buy local products from the village shops.


A boat ride from the harbor of Psarades gives you the opportunity to admire the rock paintings (icons) and visit three hermitages (Metamorphosis, Small Ascension and Panagia Eleousa) built on the lakeshore cliffs of Great Prespa Lake, towards the Greek-Albanian border. The hermitage of Panagia Eleousa (early 15th century) is the best preserved with magnificent frescoes and a breath-taking view. Psarades is the starting point of two excellent walking paths. 650 away from the village the hermitage of Agios Athanasios was recently discovered (in 2021), a site you can visit walking by the lakefront (a simple yet unmarked path of 1,2 km. On the opposite side of the bay, you can walk through a well-marked path (5km from the village) to Cape Roti with stunning views of the international side of Prespa. You can also take a detour before the cape and visit the hermitage of Metamorphosis (13th century).


From Psarades you can go by car to Vrontero through the Allies Road, constructed during the First World War by the French Armée d'Orient (be aware of the unpaved road and use a relatively high clearance vehicle with proper tires). On the way to Vrontero, you can stop at the abandoned settlement of Pyxos,of which today only the church of Agia Paraskevi and remains of the school stairs survive. In Vrontero, you can see the traditional paddocks of the area, with thatched roofs. Just outside the village, you can visit a thicket of old-growth junipers (cedars). Moving towards the lake, you can visit the Rebels’ Hospital built in the spring of 1949 to cover the needs of the Democratic Army of Greece during the last phase of the Greek civil war. On the shore of Small Prespa Lake, you will find the remnants of the abandoned settlement of Agathoto, from which few ruins and the church of St. George are preserved.


On the way back from Vrontero, just outside of Pyli you can see the place, where during the Greek civil war the headquarters of the Democratic Army were built, and you can visit the cave of Zachariadis on the nearby slope. In Pyli it is also worth a visit to the ruins of the church of Agios Nikolaos (12th century) and the nearby abandoned settlement Daseri.


Day 2: Tour the eastern side of Prespa


Laimos - Agios Germanos - Lefkonas - Kallithea – Plati


The second day of your excursion starts with a visit to Agios Germanos, which before the 2nd world war had over 2000 inhabitants, but was abandoned after the civil war and today has less than 200. It is officially recognized as a traditional settlement and hosts the Information Centre for Prespes National Park where you can learn about the natural and cultural values of the area.


The church of Agios Germanos (11th century) is dedicated to the homonymous patriarch of Constantinople and is decorated with remarkable frescoes from three periods, the most recent of which dates back to 1743. On the southern external wall, the icon of Agios Germanos is preserved (13th century AD), a product of the 2nd hagiography. From the church yard, you can take a short walk (450m) to visit the award-winning water mill, which was functionally restored in 2015 and, apart from the flour mill, it also has a fulling tub (for carpet cleaning) and a fulling mill (a wooden machine for processing wool fabrics with wooden hammers). The watermill is powered by water abstracted from the Agios Germanos river, the largest of the streams in the area, which is home to the endemic species of trout (Salmo peristericus), among others.


In Agios Germanos and in an exemplary restored traditional building you can visit the homonymous Byzantine Collection, which includes findings from the archaeological excavations in the region as well as portable icons and a conservation workshop run by the Florina’s Ephorate of Antiquities. You can also visit the church of Agios Athanasios at the settlement’s entrance, which is adorned with notable hagiographies.


A short distance from Agios Germanos (you can go with a relatively high clearance vehicle), on the slopes of Varnountas and on the route of the European long-distance path E6, is the chapel Holy Mother Dormition. This spot offers breath-taking views of the lakes and neighboring countries and is ideal for a picnic. A little further on, at the "balconia" position, is the starting point for paragliding flights.  


Laimos is the seat of the municipality and the last village before the border with North Macedonia. An interactive area has been installed in the Municipal Library where you can browse the 3D representations of the monuments of Prespes or play the knowledge games and answer quizzes about. In the village, where there are several cafes and restaurants, you can also visit the church of Ypapanti(15th century AD) or take a walk to the hill of Agios Yannis about 1300m away from the settlement. From Laimos you can visit the lakeside forest and the Agios Germanos river delta at a distance of 6-7 km, with several opportunities for birdwatching in a unique birch forest and swimming at natural beaches north of the river’s mouth when the weather permits.


In Plati the church of Agios Nikolaos, which the locals call Agia Sotira (Saviour's Transfiguration) is decorated with impressive wall paintings. From Lefkonas, where healthcare infrastructure exists (Medical Clinic and Pharmacy), you can visit the recently discovered chapel of Agia Anna, as you drive through the farming zone and plantations of the famed Prespes beans. To the south, there is Kale hill (Kyriakos Nalpantidis), one of the best viewpoints in eastern Prespes offering visual access to herons’ nesting places in the reeds that cover the lakeside area up to Mikrolimni.


Lastly, in Kallithea, you can visit the Museum of EAM-ELAS-DSE (Democratic Army of Greece), where you will find an interesting exhibition of objects and photos dating back to the Greek civil war period with a special emphasis to everyday life and farming activities in Prespes. The photographic material comes from Apostolos Mousouris’ archive, who was a photographer and camera operator of the cinematic group of the Democratic Army of Greece.


Day 3:

 

Mikrolimni - Karyes – Ladopotamos valley – Upper Koresteia


Mikrolimni is a settlement situated on the lakeshore, and so offers direct contact to the wetland landscape and the nature of Prespes. Visiting this village, especially on a sunny day, is an absolutely relaxing experience. From its small harbor, you can take the solar-electric boat of the Municipality of Prespes and go to Vidronisi, the smallest (uninhabited) island of Small Prespa, where ruins from the Byzantine period are found together with the chapel of Agios Georgios. Even when landing on Vidronisi is not allowed, during the breeding season, the island is overrun by cormorants, pelicans and seagulls which you can observe from a safe distance.


From Mikrolimni starts a spacious walking path that passes by the beautiful Lapsista bay and leads to the abandoned settlement Kranies. This path was formerly part of the road that connected the villages of Prespes with Korytsa, therefore it is wide enough for two loaded animals to pass by. Walking by the lake on a smooth route offers an amazing experience in a landscape, where junipers and oaks grow in green pastures. In nearby Oxya during late spring, you can admire the narcissus’ meadows showing the appropriate respect for this protected natural monument.


Leaving behind Prespes basin we face the valey of Ladopotamos that starts from Vigla Pisoderiou where the homonymous ski resort is and Pisoderi, an old mountainous settlement established by Vlachs. The route to Pisoderi whether you come from Florina or Pervali is startling all year round, but especially in autumn it is breath-taking. In the chapel of Agioi Anargyroi, next to the church of Agia Paraskevi with its three-storey bell tower, the parish priest of the church Stavros Tsamis buried in 1904 the head of Pavlos Melas. Just outside the village, in a dense beech forest, is the monastery of Agia Triada, an important shelter for the fighters of the Macedonian Struggle, which was burnt down by Exarchists in 1906 and only the church of the monastery survived. Later the place and the buildings were reconstructed and today is once more a basic reference point for Pisoderites everywhere, along with the Modesteios school built in 1903 with a donation of Archimandrite Modesto which dominates the center of the village. Except for the church, the monastery was burned down by the exarchates, but later was rebuilt and it constitutes the symbolic centre of all the Pisoderians. Modesteios School is an impressive building in the centre of the village, built in 1903 after a donation of the Canon Modestos.


Pisoderi, together with Antartiko, the biggest village in the region with the impressive three-storey school, was the stronghold of the fighters of the Macedonian Struggle at the beginning of the 20th century.


In Kottas, a small, picturesque settlement close to the Ladopotamos river, you can visit the house of Capetan-Kottas, which operates as a museum with free entrance by appointment. The museum displays uniforms and relics of the hero, who was in the late 19th and early 20th century a quite respected local leader throughout the area of Ladopotamos and the southern villages of Prespa, and the house itself is interesting with equipment of that era and some elements of luxury (i.e. indoor oven & kitchen).


Kristallopigi is the largest settlement in the Municipality of Prespes, just a couple of kilometers away from the homonymous border crossing. The village is famed for its traditional tavernas that offer meat specialties made from local stock fed at the pastures of Triklarion Mountain (Varba and Mali Madi). Around the village significant flora of herbs (mountain tea, primula, etc.), orchids, etc. Close to Kristallopigi and via an accessible road you can also visit the abandoned settlement Moshohori.

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