As the weather becomes warmer and sunnier, we dream of trips. Achilles and I are dreaming and planning our next hike. Most likely we will be back on Olympus Mountain, not only because we are in love with this mountain, but also because it is very close to the place we live (Thessaloniki). But until we are given the opportunity, I searched and found photos of a trip I made to Dragon Lake (Drakolimni) as a student. Drakolimni is the name of an alpine lake in mountain Tymfi (2497m). It is located in the wonderful Zagori, on Epirus region of Greece.
If you have not already read my “about”, I need to tell you that I have studied in Ioannina (capital of Epirus). I stayed there for seven years. I love this city for many reasons. One of them is that it is a breath away from the magic villages of Zagori. Wonderful place for relaxation, but also many options for hikes.
The mountaineering club of Ioannina is quite organized and makes trips every weekend. By this way, I had the opportunity to meet some routes (I wish I’d done a lot more!). One of them is the famous Drakolimni. The photos are very old, so they are not of high quality, however, you will agree that they are at least impressive.
The route starts from Mikro Papigo. There are several signs, which means that you will not need a guide. The duration of the ascent is about 4 hours, while the descent is 3 hours. The route starts in the forest but very quickly the landscape changes and becomes dry, bare and rough. The vegetation is low. You will mostly meet flowers, herbs and it is very likely that you will meet a herd sheep.
There are fountains but they do not have water in all seasons, so I suggest that you bring enough water with you. In almost all the way there are no trees, so you should take care to be protected by the sun with sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, etc. As you see in the pictures the recklessness of my young years made me go with a single shoulder strap. I wonder how I did not get burned! After about three hours ascension you meet Astraka refuge where you can rest. The view from there is breathtaking, like almost all the way, because of the imposing mass of the mountain and the wild scenery.
Here starts the most difficult part of the route, but it is just for a while and you will not understand it because of the impatience to reach the end. The mountain is still bare from trees. The lake appears unexpectedly in front of you. After the fatigue of the ascent, I never imagined that there could be something so spectacular, so beautiful up there.
The reflection of the Gamila peak at the lake is magical. You feel like you have entered a fake world on a postcard. The newts, small amphibians of which took the name of the lake, come to the lake edge and enable us to admire them. I could sit there to admire the tranquility and immaculate beauty for hours. Unfortunately, time is chasing us and we need to descend. The descent is equally painful, especially for the knees and because the sun still has not set. We arrived at Mikro Papingo and return home full of feelings.
The route is quite tedious mainly because of the sun. I went there at the end of August, so I do not know if it is a little better some other time. Although tedious, it has no particular difficulty and can be done even by beginners (novice I was too when I went up there!). You can also spend the night at the shelter if you like.
If you find yourself in Zagori, I recommend it! The lake compensates you fully for all the fatigue, the majesty of the mountains and the calm, empty the mind and calm the soul.
Have a nice day!