We stayed and started our hike in Monodendri. We hiked through the gorge with a guide from Compass Adventures (http://www.compassadventures.gr/). He speaks Greek, English and German and the service included a trekking pole, some snacks, his knowledge about the gorge and transportation back to Monodendri. We saw some other hikers in the gorge so I guess a guide is not absolutely neccessary. But we don't hike very often and never before in a gorge, so it calmed us to have someone with us who knew the way, knew the difficult sections and could help us in need. When you are down there you are away from civilisation - that can make you feel liberated and uneasy at the same time. It took us 8 hours to hike from Monodendri to the village of Vikos, that's a bit slower than normal - partly because of our fitness level (moderately fit maybe?), but also because of the hot wheather and of our long stops by the water. For most of the way, the path is not right by the river and the river is almost dried out in summer anyway. But now and then you can rest your feet in the cold water. Also for most of the way you will have trees shielding you from the sun. Before the ascent to Vikos there is the Voidomatis Springs. You can drink the water and refill your bottles, but be careful when you dip your toes in - the water will freeze your bones.
When we got out of the gorge we were exhausted and we had sore muscles for the next two days. But it was definitely worth it! Beautiful nature (saw turtles!), only very few people around and a challenging route (at least for beginners like us).
If you want to take a look at the canyon from above we suggest a short car trip from up to the viewing point Oxia with the so called stone forest (nice stone formations) along the road. The viewing point is right on the edge of the gorge, gives you a bird's eye view of your hiking route and an impressive glance into this great canyon.
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