Imagine a scene from Peter Jackson's King Kong, minus all the crazy animals. After a few days in the charming Parga we have made our way to the village of Monodendri and then run, down, down, down into the Vikos Gorge. The world's deepest ravine, at least in proportion to its width.
“We are completely surrounded by vegetation, it's amazingly green and beautiful”
We are here to run the trail, that most of the others here are walking. On this day we are as good as alone in the whole valley. The path offers stone-paved stairs and paths, dirt paths and cliffs. The terrain is varied, first stone and steep cliffs in all directions and then magical moss-covered forests, fresh herbs, and traces of wild boar hunting for truffles. Simply perfect for a trail adventure. When we run, we are continuously in awe; we cannot believe that we are in Greece.
We are in the Pindus Mountains, near the border to Albania and when we get out of the ravine to the other side of the village of Vikos, we see it in its full splendor, a stupendously magical and very dramatic valley. The ravine itself is about twenty kilometers long. At its deepest, it is 1600m, and only a few meters wide in its most narrow places.
We spend the night at Bourazani Wildlife Resort, which is as far from packaged charter trips as you could imagine. Unique is just one word for it, and the man who runs it brings to mind a Greek version of Basil Fawlty, but in a good way.
If the day before we started was downwards, then day two outside the village of Konista we start running upwards. Straight up, straight into the woods, almost undiscovered, but of course, there is a small path there, it even has a name, “the Kerasia path”.
Our guide Costas Nikolopoulos knows at least where we are going. Soon we will leave the forest and end up on a mountain ridge. It will be a long day on the ridge, running for some parts, sometimes we have to settle for walking.
“This day offers views we didn't think we would find in Greece”
It is both green and very hilly, but we suck it up and continue to stick in there. We make a loop up via Ntavalista and down to the completely empty and silent monastery in Stomio.
Except for nights in the Greek countryside, the base of our trail adventure has been the small village of Parga. With the risk of sounding like a tourist brochure, Parga is very cozy and almost idyllic. The village is spread out in the shape of a horseshoe with a nice and quiet cove.
The harbor promenade is littered with, what you usually find in Greece, relatively cozy restaurants where it may be a little bit difficulty in spotting the difference between one and the other. But it is still very cozy. As the finale of this journey, some in our gang round off the weekend running the duathlon competition Agelos Fetsis Parga. But if you are on a training weekend, why not.