Adventures / Wild Hikes

Track Wild Bears and Hike in Northern Greece

Hike through the world’s deepest gorge and track wild bears across the beautiful Pindos Mountains

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Trip Ref #10001

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Track Wild Bears and Hike in Northern Greece

Hike through the world’s deepest gorge and track wild bears across the beautiful Pindos Mountains

DURATION

5 nights

LOCATION

Greece

ANNUAL LEAVE

4 days off work

SEASON

Jun, Aug—Oct

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Thessaloniki Macedonia International Airport, Greece

ACCOMMODATION

Guesthouse

DIFFICULTY

Easy

No previous experience is needed, but you’ll be crossing rough, uneven terrain so a decent level of general fitness is required.

Explore remote bear territory and get involved in the conservation work being done to protect these incredible animals in the wild

Hike an unspoilt and little-known corner of Europe staying in local independent guesthouses

Visit the Greek Grand Canyon, Vikos Gorge – the deepest in the world

All our reviews are verified

We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

Laura, April 2022

I think this trip was good, but probably more for a certain type of traveller. I was expecting the bear sanctuary to be the highlight but it didn't quite live up to expectations. The highlight was definitely Vikos Gorge. Our guide Maria was lovely, very enthusiastic about nature, and also made some changes to work around the weather (we went to Prespa Lake instead of Mount Gramos due to the weather, and it was stunning). The accomodation was great - very comfortable, friendly hosts and great views. For me the trip was slightly to slow a pace with a lot of time spent eating and drinking whereas I prefer to pack in as much as possible. Whether that is a good or bad thing will depend on you as a traveller.

Annik, April 2022

This trip was really outstanding! The highlight was the sighting of a bear! Never imagined that the mountains in Northern Greece were that beautiful!! The hike is the Vikos Gorge was really impressive!! Our guide Maria was super enthusiastic, very much driven and well informed!!! Our guide Pandelis and the driver Kostas were also very helpful. The food at the local establishments was very tasteful. I would recommend this trip to everyone that wants to discover a highly unknown but amazing part of Europe.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking conservation guides

Accommodation

5 nights in local, independent guesthouses

Meals

All breakfasts and dinners

Transfers

To and from the airport and everything in between

Permits

All national park permits and entry fees

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Thessaloniki Airport

14:00

Ends

Thessaloniki Airport

13:30

Transfers

Your host will let you know meeting point prior to departure. On the final day you are free to book any flight that departs after 15:30.

If you are unable to take the group transfer from Thessaloniki on day 1, there are various options to make your own way to Kastoria. Buses from Thessaloniki to Kastpria take approximately 3 hours and cost around €25. You can also take a train from Thessaloniki to Florina, and then a 45-minute taxi to Kastoria. This option will cost around €70.

If you would like to be dropped off at a different location than Thessaloniki airport, please discuss this with your host before or during the trip.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Thessaloniki from major airports across the UK and Europe.

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 5

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

You're in Greece, the food is incredible! You'll have traditional food at various points during the trip, including classic Greek evenings in local tavernas. Vegans and Vegetarians can be catered for on this trip, just let your host know in advance.

Your guide will help organise lunches to best suit the logistics of the itinerary and will suggest a variety of local foods for you to enjoy!

What is the accommodation like?

Kastoria

You’ll stay in a twin room in a locally owned, independent guesthouse where the views are almost as good as the local food and hospitality.

Mikro Papingo

You'll stay in another beautiful, Greek guesthouse beneath the towering peaks of the Pindos mountains - a spectacular and very comfortable base for your hikes in the area.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Kastoria

Hiking

1.5hrs · 5km

Head to Kastoria, your base for the bear tracking adventure ahead. Check into your guesthouse, gaze out at the lake and then meet up with your guides and the rest of your team. If there's enough time, take a short hike to a nearby area frequented by bears, before heading out for dinner. You have an early start in the morning so you may want to hold back on the Ouzo.

Day 2

Bears

Hiking

3hrs · 7km

Head to an area where bears forage for food and If you're lucky, catch a glimpse of a wild bear going about its morning routine.Fuel up yourself, then hike to a spectacular wilderness area where your guides conduct regular field research. During the hike you'll learn about radio-tracking methods, look for signs of bear activity, measure footprints and watch remote camera traps being set. Visit the sanctuary at Nymfaio and see the important work being done to give orphaned and rescued bears a better life. Here you will definitely see them up close.

Day 3

The mountain trails of Gramos

Hiking

3hrs · 7km · 500m up

Pack your day bag and head to the spectacular Mount Gramos (2520m) for a days hiking in the mountains. This is a wild and beautiful area, with pine and beech forests nestled beneath the peaks of the Pindos Mountains and four different rivers descending into the forested valleys. Head back to Kastoria for a well-earned rest and then take a quick walk around the lake, followed by a classic Greek dinner in a local Taverna.

Day 4

Bears, bears, bears!

Hiking

2hrs · 5km · 100m up

Start the day with a spot of crack-of-dawn bear tracking. After breakfast, head out again for another wilderness hike, this time keeping an eye out for paw tracks, droppings, hairs and scratch markings on the trees. Wave goodbye to Kastoria and hop in the car for a drive to one of the most picturesque villages on the trip, Mikro Papigno, located right in the heart of Northern Pindos National Park.

Day 5

Vikos Gorge

Hiking

4-5hrs · 10km · 800m up

Hike through the world's deepest gorge (relative to its width), known as ‘Greece's Grand Canyon’. A small trail takes you straight down to the bottom of the gorge where you can stare up at the sheer walls until you reach your lunch spot on the lovely Voidomatis River. Here you can wild swim and drink the water straight from the bank.

Ascend back up and explore Zagori, an area of extraordinary natural beauty made up of two national parks and little villages connected by arched stone bridges. Head back to your guesthouse for a last Greek feast and have an Ouzo or two. You've earned it.

Day 6

Return to Thessaloniki

Have a final breakfast in Mikro Papingo and then pack up and drive back to Thessaloniki. You'll be dropped off at the airport in time for your return flight, or at a hotel in Thessaloniki if you are staying on in Greece.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Soft duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack
  • Waterproof liner for day pack

Clothes

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Swimwear (for summer and autumn)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals

Other

  • Universal travel plug adapter (if you travel from outside the EU)
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Passports (and visas if needed)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Earplugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry out)
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle x1 ltr
  • Energy bars and snacks
  • Walking poles (optional)

Single room in Mikro Papingo

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Mikro Papingo

Double/Twin room in Mikro Papingo

Payable Before Departure

Double/Twin room in Mikro Papingo

Single room in Kastoria

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Kastoria

Double/Twin room in Kastoria

Payable Before Departure

Double/Twin room in Kastoria

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 267kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

Yes. You will visit the bear sanctuary at Nymfaio where you are guaranteed to see bears up close. As for seeing wild bears, nature can never make any guarantees, but you will be spending a good amount of time deep in bear-country guided by true experts, so you’ll have a fair chance. Be reassured that we follow responsible wildlife observation guidelines and will never use bear baiting to please tourists.

You'll need a decent level of general fitness, but this is a lighter hiking trip and if you are happy walking for a few hours in the mountains at a time you'll be just fine.

The hike at Vikos Gorge on the penultimate day of the trip is the most strenuous part of the adventure, with 4-5 hours of walking and approximately 500m of elevation descent and gain.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

The water is perfectly safe to drink in each part of Greece that you will be visiting. You can even drink from certain rivers during the hikes. Do bring one or two reusable water bottles, as you'll need to load up before the bear tracking and hiking.

You can expect a variety of weather conditions, ranging from pleasantly warm to cold, so bring some layers. Expect mostly dry weather (especially June, July, August, September) but there may be an occasional rain shower. Late July and August can be quite hot with temperatures above 30 degrees at times.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling in Greece, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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