Track Wild Bears and Hike in Northern Greece
Go bear tracking in Greece's Pindos mountains alongside local conservation experts and hike through the world's deepest gorge.
Why it's much better
- Track wild bears in a rarely visited mountainous area of Greece
- Be guided by professional conservationists and members of the 'Bear Emergency Team' project
- Hike trails in the wilderness of an unspoilt and little-known corner of Europe
- Explore remote bear territory and experience the conservation work done to protect wild bears in the region
- Stay in local independent Greek guesthouses
- Hike through the 'Greek Grand Canyon' Vikos Gorge
- Chances to spot other large mammals such as wolf, European otter and red deer
- Support conservation: this adventure includes a donation to a bear protection project conducted by a local conservation organisation
- Guides Two expert, English-speaking local guides from a conservation organisation
- Accommodation 5 nights in local, independent Greek guesthouse
- Meals All breakfasts and dinners included.
- Transfers All airport transfers
- Permits All national park permits and entry fees
- Conservation The trip price includes a 50 euro per person donation to wildlife charity 'Callisto'
- Happiness Guaranteed We're so confident that your holiday will be your best yet, we actually guarantee it
- Feel Good Vibes We mitigate 4x the carbon emitted by all our travellers and support important conservation projects
Day 1: Arrive at Thessaloniki and transfer to Kastoria region
You'll meet your host at the airport and set off for a 2 hour drive towards the town of Kastoria, your base for the bear tracking adventures to come. You'll check in to the guesthouse and have a bit of downtime to gaze at the lake, before meeting up with the rest of the group and your guides for the trip. Your guides work for a local wildlife conservation organisation, so you'll be in the hands of proper experts.
If there's enough time in the afternoon, you'll take a short hike in a nearby area where bears are active.
In the evening you will have dinner with the rest of the group. Your guides will share some bear stories and give you the lowdown on the conservation work that is being done in the area by their charity.
You may want to hold back on the Ouzo this evening as you have an early start in the morning...
2 hours driving
Hiking distance: 5km - Elevation ascent/descent: 100m - Duration: 1.5 hours
Day 2: Bear tracking, wilderness hiking and Nymfaio bear sanctuary visit
So we mentioned an early start and usually that could mean you were off to catch the sunrise. Or do yoga or something. Both are perfectly fine ways to start a day. But early starts on this trip mean one thing and one thing only: bear tracking. You will head straight out, before breakfast, to an area where bears may be active at this time of day, foraging for their own breakfast. If you're lucky, you'll glimpse a wild bear going about its morning.
After your first taste of bear tracking, you'll head back to Kastoria for breakfast at the guesthouse.
No time to waste, after breakfast you'll head North to the great outdoors for a hike in a spectacular wilderness area. This is a section of the Pindos Mountains 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.
On your drive back to Kastoria, you'll stop off for a visit to the bear sanctuary at Nymfaio. Here you will definitely see bears, guaranteed, and up close! The bears here are captive but are kept in a huge fenced area of some 50,000 square metres. The sanctuary does really important work to give these orphaned wild bears and rescue bears a better life.
You'll have a chance to nip into the mountain village town of Nymfaio. Then it's time to head back to Kastoria for dinner at the guesthouse.
Hiking distance: 7km - Elevation ascent/descent: 200m - Duration: 3 hours
Day 3: Hiking the mountain trails of Gramos
You'll get bit of a lie-in today compared with yesterday's pre-breakfast bear tracking. After breakfast, you'll pack your day bag and get ready to leave for the spectacular Mount Gramos (2520m). After around an hour and a half's drive, you'll set out for the day's hike in the mountains.
This is a wild and beautiful area, with pine and beech forests nestled beneath the Pindos Mountain peaks. Four different rivers descend from the peaks into the forested valleys.
After the hike you'll head back to Kastoria for a well earnt rest. Later in the afternoon they'll be a chance to snatch a quick walk around the lake, before a classic Greek evening with dinner in a local Taverna.
Hiking distance: 7km - Elevation ascent/descent: 500m - Duration: 3 hours
Day 4: Bear tracking and wilderness hiking
An early start again today as you head out for more crack-of-dawn bear tracking. That's what we're here for, after all. Bears, bears, bears!
After a good breakfast back at the guesthouse, you'll head out again for another wilderness hike. You'll be hiking in a mountainous area where bears may be active: keep an eye out for paw tracks, droppings, hairs and scratch markings on trees.
Later, it's time to wave goodbye to Kastoria area and hop in the car for a drive to one of the most picturesque villages on the trip: Mikro Papigno. The village is right in the heart of Northern Pindos National Park. You'll have dinner in your new guesthouse at the end of a long day.
Hiking distance: 5km - Elevation ascent/descent: 100m - Duration: 2 hours
Day 5: Hike to Vikos Gorge
Today you will hike through the world's deepest gorge (relative to its width) at a place called Vikos, known as "Greece's Grand Canyon". After breakfast at the guesthouse, you'll set off fro Vikos on foot, straight from Mikro Papingo village.
A small trail takes you straight down to the bottom of the gorge itself. Peer up at the enormous sheer walls of the gorge as you go deeper and deeper, until you reach the Voidomatis river. This is your lunch spot. It's a pretty good one. Here you can wild swim and drink the water straight from the river.
After a proper lunch-with-a-view at the bottom of the gorge, you'll start the ascent back up towards Mikro Papingo village. The later afternoon is free time to explore nearby Zagori, an area of natural beauty made up of two national parks. Wander around the villages and don't forget to check out the connecting arch stone bridges.
You'll head back to the guesthouse at Mikro Papingo for one last Greek feast and a final evening to savour in this gorgeous part of the Pindos Mountains. Feel free to have an Ouzo or two tonight. You've earned it.
Hiking distance: 10km - Elevation ascent/descent: 800m - Duration: 4-5 hours
Day 6: Return to Thessaloniki
Your time in the mountains is winding down. You'll have a final breakfast at the guesthouse in Mikro Papingo before you pack up ready for the four hour 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. We advise that, if you're flying from Thessaloniki on this day, you book a flight departing after 15:30.
4 hours driving
All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.
You'll stay in two small, independent and locally-owned traditional guesthouses in and around the Pindos mountains.
Accommodation is based on a twin room basis, same gender sharing. For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked from €120 per person (subject to availability). Please request this at the time of booking.
Your base for the first part of the trip is at Vissinokipos guesthouse just outside Kastoria, next to Lake Orestiada. Here you'll find traditional Greek hospitality in a peaceful and beautiful location, with balconies overlooking the mountains and lake. The views are almost as good as the homemade marmalade!
You'll spend 2 nights at a beautiful Greek guesthouse called Dias, which sits right beneath the towering peaks of the Pindos mountains. A spectacular and very comfortable base for your hikes in this area.
*Note that exact accommodation is subject to change on the odd occasion if availability is an issue
Your adventure will start and finish in the port city of Thessaloniki on the Aegean Sea. Thessaloniki and the nearby coastal areas of Greece make for a great add-on before or after your bear tracking and hiking adventure.
Your base will be in Kastoria, a small Greek city with a beautiful lakeside setting at the foot of the Pindos mountains. A great spot for a sundowner after days spent tracking bears!
The bear tracking and hikes will take place in the wider wilderness area of Kastoria and around the Gramos mountain region near the Albanian border. This is a heavily forested area of birch and pine set against a mountainous back drop, with sub-alpine meadows and clear rivers meandering through the valleys. It is one of the most beautiful and undiscovered trekking regions of Europe!
The final part of the trip takes you to Vikos Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world relative to its width, at up to 490 metres. The gorge is home to a varied ecosystem and is a site of scientific interest because of its almost pristine condition.
You'll be met at the airport by your local host. They will be in touch before the trip to confirm your arrival time and let you know details about where to meet. You can also be picked up from your accommodation in Thessaloniki if you happen to arrive a day or two earlier.
Your adventure ends back in Thessaloniki where your host will drop you off at the airport in time for your return flight, or in central Thessaloniki if you are staying on to lap up more of the Greek sunshine.
If you are flying from Thessaloniki on the last day of the trip, you need to book a flight that departs after 15:30.
Dates & Prices
Bespoke trips only
There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.
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