The days of the Easter holiday were a good opportunity for excursion. Some time ago, they had been discussions with the team of Motoadv.gr and there was a proposal / invitation to participate in their good company. The weather in the Holy Week was stumbling all proposals and hope, as the bad weather that prevailed - almost until the night before our departure - reached a point of falling snow to the foothills of the mountain of Parnitha... and we wanted to visit the area of Pindos!!!
Luckily, everything changed the Good Friday where we started for our first trip, about 560km, with destination the village of Melissourgon where we would stay overnight. The plan of the route that we would follow was edited by Kostas P. and it really was an excellent choice!
The appointment was at 8am, at McDonalds at the National Road Athens-Lamia. The six companions –those who managed to overcome unfamiliar weather and obligations - we started our journey, covering the monotonous 200 km to Lamia. Beyond that, the driving became interesting as we moved through Domokos to find ourselves in the regional way of Karditsa.
We made a stop for refueling and following the direction to Mouzaki, soon we entered an area with lush vegetation with trees to create a natural "wall" along the road. Passing the village square of Mouzaki, we drove the road that climbed altitude. Arriving at 1400m we came across the snowy landscape of Mount Toubano, causing us to have the illusion that we are in the middle of winter! The scenery was alpine. We stopped to take some photos and continued our course, moving in altitude exceeded 1500m.
Soon we began to descend to the village of Argithea, the snow gives the position in an area with more vegetation, consisting of plans. In Argithea we stopped at the central and perhaps uniqueness cafe that was next to a raging stream. A few people welcomed us asking from where we came and where we went.
After our coffee, we continued to drive on a track in a canyon with lush vegetation. The road was narrow and we did not meet almost any vehicle. After crossing the village of Ptelea, we could enjoy the view from above the river of Acheloos. Continuing, we reached the metal bridge (type Baley) of Petroto, joining the two edges of the river. A few dozen meters further stands proudly the homonymous stone bridge. Unsurprisingly we stop again for photos.
Beyond that, the steep, winding road followed a path around the dam project to divert the River of Acheloos. We had the opportunity to cross 4-5 tunnels, which were more like tunnels until Sykia village. At that point we crossed again the River of Acheloos and entered an area with less vegetation -compared with the previous section of the route - to the village of Ano Kalentini.
The village had a small paved square that housed a church, at the time of our arrival, people came out. The point offered a beautiful panoramic view of the area. Stelios proposed to stop to throw a few minutes nap... the suffering of the previous day -due to the Travel size - had begun to affect him. Of course for all of us was a good opportunity to rest and chat.
The narrow, winding road continued to be in the same pattern, but with vegetation and altitude gradually increased until the village of Tetrakomo. There we were in a crossing where we followed the left direction in the famous villages of Arta: Athamanio and Vourgareli. The tall fir was feature of the local vegetation. At some points, the road passed through points that gave the opportunity to have a unique view of the mountains and the peaks of Tzoumerka.
We crossed the traditional villages Athamanio and Vourgareli, due to the season it was crowded. In Vourgareli we followed the signs to Kataraktis - Agnanta. We drove to another mountain route that crossed a wooded area on the border before the Alpine area. The narrow road, with the continuous turns, passed through pine forest with incredible beauty. Essentially, we were moving at the foot of Tzoumerka at an altitude of about 1000m.
In the afternoon we arrived in the village of Kataraktis and unsurprisingly we moved to the tourist booth –outside the village- where the main attraction is. We arrived and parked our bikes beside the tavern in order to walk to the waterfall. Soon, however, we were disappointed, as the waterfalls had little water ... which is strange for the season, and May and June are the months that the waterfalls have plenty of water. The strange thing was that this winter had a lot of rain and snow, with the latter being dropped only 2-3 days before our visit. As we were later told some of the climber refuge of Melissourgon, the water was less as it was frozen in the natural reservoirs that feed the waterfalls ... next time maybe we are luckier!
With the sun setting slowly - slowly, we started to the final destination of the day: the refuge of Melissourgon. The road continued in the same pattern and the fact that we had already led 500km from Athens, we did not feel tired, because the track was really beautiful and driving was a pleasure. After we passed the village of Pramanta, we continue for the next 5 km. until the junction for shelter of Melissourgon (caution because there is a shelter of Pramanta).
Just before the shelter, we met a dirt road 300-400m leading to the small parking lot of the refuge. The shelter is located at 1023m altitude, below the mountaintop of Strogoula. It is tucked in a dense pine forest, it offers an incredible view of the mountain top Kakarditsa, located directly across from the shelter, with a deep gorge separates between them.
The shelter has dormitories and places where you can build tents. We preferred to spend the night in a room, as the cold was incredible and the temperature was close to 5 points. The main shelter area is beautifully decorated, absolute environmental compatibility. We arranged things and went down to sit in the main hall. The helpful and friendly staff offers food, providing some delicious dishes. Our hunger was great... however all the dishes looked too delicious!
Apostolis and Fotis are the owners of the shelter. Really devotee with their work, making you feel comfortable from the first moment you step your foot there.
The evening flowed very pleasantly... At some point and suddenly appeared Nikos FTS from Thessaloniki and Kostas Lempon, 2 bikers we had met before 3-4 years. Our meeting at the shelter was random!!! Coincidentally they had come to the shelter to spend 1-2 days and were even the musicians for whom Apostolis were discussing five minutes ago! As it was expected the night got another twist, with talk for traveling, drink, snacks and of course lives music until the wee hours!!!
Something like that ended the first day of the 3-day excursion in Pindos... Well done to Kostas P., for choosing the route and accommodation. They are the moments that you realize the specificity of moto-travel and people traveling by motorcycle. You feel that there is a big bond, and you may know them less... This special "magic", you can not realize if you do not live it...