ZAGORI AND PAPIGO
Small and mountainous, yet distinctive region of Greece geologically part of the Alps lying at the NE of the city of Ioannina bordering impassable mountains and rivers. It covers approximately 1002 sq. km with four main access points. It shows signs of continuous inhabitation since14000 B.C. whilst the name "Zagori" appears in writing for the first time in 1321. It derives from the Slavic preposition za = behind and the accusative of the noun gora = mountain denoting an area behind the mountains. The area’s unique natural beauty, with land both fertile and naturally protected from invasion, encouraged the first inhabitants to take root and develop settlements, which endure to this day.
The natural environment and the forty-four villages constitute a unique geographical and cultural unity containing a great number of different ecosystems with a tremendous variety of flora and fauna of great beauty and scientific interest. During the Ottoman occupation, and especially between the 17th-19th centuries, the area’s inhabitants developed a particularly dynamic and flourishing society. The Zagorians won a rare degree of autonomy and other privileges from the Ottomans and many among them achieved high official positions in the imperial government. The economy of Zagori peaked through migration, with locals moving abroad to make their fortune and sending substantial sums back to their homeland, during the Ottoman occupation but also later. The cultural and social effects of such migratory movement were also substantial.
At the end of a 62 km journey from Ioannina, having exited at the 32nd km the road from Ioannina to Kozani to enter the region of western Zagori, lies the village of Papigo. The name of the village derives from Pa = without, and Pengu = pasture, denoting an area without pastures.
The road leading to Papigo climbs initially through a low lying forest, passing another village and, suddenly, after a turn and a sharply descending stretch, the landscape changes dramatically. A massive embrace of mountains opens up before the visitor’s eyes, like a gigantic fence towards the central and rest of western Zagori. A massive embrace of forests, colourful mountains, endless peaks and ravines, mythical castles, and the great opening at the end of the Vikos gorge. A breathtakingly imposing composition.
At the end of the snaking journey, at the foot of the most distinctive mountain range of Pindos, with the Astraka peak (2436 m) and the rock "Towers" reaching all the way to the Vikos gorge, grow another set of rocks, smaller versions of the mountains. They are the houses of Papigo. They rise up proudly from their roots in the land, declaring the harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
Rafting - Kayak
One of the most enchanting routes for rafting and kayak is the one that starts from the Papigo bridge and ends at the Klidonia bridge. The length of the route is 5 km and lasts approximately 1 and a half hour.
Papigo is the starting point to many mountain activities such as climbing, trekking, canyoning e.g. ascent to the Astraka refuge, the Dragon Lake, descent to the Vikos gorge, passing of the gorge etc.
Ascent to Timfi
The ascent to Timfi starts fro Mikro Papigo and last approximately 6-7 hours.
Ascent to Astraka Refuge
The ascent takes 3 hours and has three stops at three fountains (Antakli, Trafos, Krouna) and one more hour to Dragon Lake.
Vikos - Mikro Papigo
The route starts from the village Vikos and ends at Mikro Papigo. The distance is approximately 2 km and takes 2 hours due to the uphill walk.
During the hot summer days you can cool off at "kolimbithres" (Rogovo swimming pools) that lay between Megalo and Mikro Papigo, 50m from the road. The view is breathtaking!