I was searching for a place to take away all my anxiety in the middle of winter. Nature is always the perfect solution, the key that opens the gate of relaxation, joy and harmony. I chose Mountainous Nafpaktia because of its scenery. A cluster of villages on the slopes of Pindos, where beautiful woods, gorges and natural springs dominate.
Most people know Nafpaktos as a small historical town with an intense medieval character, on the Corinthian Gulf. But the magic lies well above. The approximately 60 villages of the region are built at altitudes of 700 to 1,000 m and are located from 30 to 90 km away from Nafpaktos.
I found myself enchanted by a sensual route through the diverse landscape, where chestnut trees, platan, oak and fir interchange giving a unique colour that surrounds Evinos River and its lake Evinolimni. It’s the ideal place for outdoor activities, such as biking, hiking, rafting, canoe-kayak, mountain climbing, horseback-riding and archery.
We spent the weekend in the picturesque village “Kryoneri”, -which was named in 1939, for the cold water available to the region- and the new and only hotel Omalia Village, a large area boasting traditional houses with fireplaces, a restaurant and a cafeteria, that literally firs at an altitude of 1170 meters.
I expected, however, that the village would be more vivid with permanent residents and the weekenders. It was mid-November in a mountainous destination but a surprising calm prevailed. Shutters of brick houses with alpine roofs were closed, as if it was a summer destination in the middle of wintertime.
But this did not prevent us from a walk in the cobblestone streets, to pass by the traditional square with the lofty tree, enjoy the nature, the view of Evinolimni and one of the most beautiful sunsets of mountainous Greece.
On Sunday we climbed the Mount Tsekoura, a very beautiful walking route of one and a half hours with perfect signaling. Within this dense fir forest, with tall trees that reminded me of landscapes in foreign countries we discovered everywhere different mushroom species. In fact, there are approximately 200 species of mushrooms of which 70 are edible and 3 of which exist only here in all Europe. When we reached the top, we had an incredible view of vast tree-lined areas with small picturesque villages popping up now and then.
Other charming villages of this exciting mountain destination in Greece include Ampelakiotissa, Terpsithea, Elatou, Platanos, Katafygio, Kato Chora and certainly Ano Chora, the most famous tourist village of Nafpaktia. I expected to find more life there but it was not exactly the case. The restaurants were either closed or had no supplies to “cover” our big group. We went to Patouchas tavern and tasted homemade food such as greens pie and dolmadakia and local meats such as wild boar and goat stew.
I talked with the owner about my impression of the region and she told me that most of the villages are completely deserted in winter while during summer are full of life. It sounded so odd to me but then I realised that maybe that’s why it retains its purity and authenticity for those looking for low profile winter weekends and nature at its finest!