Vikos Gorge -The birth of a River
About The Place
The Vikos Gorge, measuring 32 kilometers (20 miles) in length, features walls that vary in depth from 120 to 1,350 meters (390 to 4,400 feet) and a width that ranges from 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) to just a few meters at its narrowest point. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it holds the title of the world’s deepest canyon concerning its width-to-depth ratio, though there are some who dispute this claim. The primary stretch of the gorge extends from the village of Vikos to Monodendri, reaching an impressive depth of approximately 1,350 meters (4,429 feet).
The landscape within this 32-kilometer-long gorge, where 12 kilometers fall within the core zone of the park, is characterized by its diverse relief and marked by sudden changes in altitude. Steep slopes and precipitous rocky cliffs dominate the middle and higher zones respectively. Numerous gullies dissect both sides of the gorge, and the erosion caused by the flow of water results in extensive screes. Carved over millions of years by the Vikos Stream and its continuation, the Voidomatis River, a tributary of the Aoös (Vjosa), the gorge has a northwest-southeast orientation.
Given that the Vikos Gorge is a profound cross-section of the mountain, it reveals a series of rock formations of different geological ages. The upper layers, found between 0 and 200 meters in depth, consist of relatively young Eocene limestone. From 200 meters to 700 meters in depth, a stratum from the Campanian era is present, while below 700 meters, the formations consist of Jurassic and Cretaceous limestone. Grey Jurassic dolomite prevails in the deepest layers.
Studies of sedimentary and lithological features in the Voidomatis basin indicate that the innermost alluvial deposits contain material derived from limestone, transported by the Voidomatis River from higher elevations due to glacial activity around 30,000 years ago. The subsequent (middle) deposits result from deglaciation and increased run-off from the uplands around 20,000 years ago. The outermost layer is attributed to human activities associated with pastoralism, which led to extensive deforestation and soil erosion.
The Voidomatis basin holds evidence of three significant glacial phases, with the two largest and earliest occurring during the Middle Pleistocene. The final glacial phase is believed to have taken place during the Last Glacial Maximum, approximately 22,000 to 20,000 years ago.
During the major Middle Pleistocene glaciations, glacial meltwater runoff would have directly contributed to the river channel network because much of the limestone terrain in the uplands was covered by ice, and many karst conduits would have been obstructed by sediment or frozen solid. Consequently, the glacier fronts approached modern valley bottoms during these periods. In contrast, during interglacial and interstadial periods, there was more efficient connectivity between the surface drainage network and the internal karst drainage system.
Since limestone dissolves as water percolates through its pores, an extensive underground drainage system has evolved, replete with caves and channels that expand over time as their ceilings collapse, giving rise to rocky exposures and sheer slopes. This is also why water is scarce, appearing only when an impermeable layer is encountered.
- 4-5 hours
Vikos gorge highlights :Birth of a river – Vikos Gorge. Crosses the heart of Vikos -Aoos National park and the Voidomatis springs, where a river is born!
This moderate difficulty hike, crosses the heart of Vikos -Aoos National park, continues partly through the Vikos gorge where the hiker can dive into the crystal waters of the Voidomatis springs, where a river is born! The path finishes at the Vikos village as the way up brings astonishing views!
Visiting the ancient monastery (built in 1738) next to the springs is really worth an extra 10 minute walk.
The National Park of North Pindos was established in 2005 . It is located in northwestern Greece and administratively belongs to the Regional Units of Ioannina and Grevena.
It is the largest land National Park in our country, with an area of 1,969,741 acres, including within its borders the entire area of Zagori, the areas of Konitsa and Metsovo, as well as the western part of the city of Grevena.
The North Pindos National Park was created with the administrative unification of these areas and has as a main goal the preservation, protection and promotion of the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
Distance : 8km
What to Bring
Comfortable hiking shoes & trousers
Bottle of water
Certified & Experienced Guide
Pic nic snack (seasonal fruits, energy bars)
Pair of hiking poles per person
1 backpack for 4 persons
- Basic physical condition
- Minimum Age 12+ years
- Starting Time 10:00
- Ending Time 15:00
Cancellation Policy - Flexible
- Whenever you cancel 4 days or earlier than the confirmed activity starting date, your fee will be refunded for the entire activity charge.
- In case of cancellation within 48 and 96 hours before the scheduled activity starting date, you'll get 50% reimbursed.
- Those who cancel 48 hours or beyond are considered last-minute cancellations. There will be no refunds