Northern Pindos National Park

National Park in Epiros

North of Ioannina, this large protected area includes the Vikos-Aoös region around the plunging Vikos Gorge, and the Valia Kalda forest north of Metsovo. Consistent across the nearly 200,000 hectares are pristine rivers and forests, flowering meadows, and shimmering lakes. Almost one-third of Greece’s flora (some endemic) lives here, along with native fish, foxes and chamois, rare hawks, otters and bears. Greece's second-highest peak, Mt Smolikas (2637m), is on the remote north side, a destination for backcountry hikers.

The park is hardly devoid of people. Within the boundaries are many villages, including the Zagorohoria, and resident Vlach and Sarakatsani shepherds still take their flocks up to high grazing ground in summer, returning to the valleys in autumn. There are information centres at Zagorohoria, Metsovo and on the road to the park.