Tymfi Mountain- Drakolimni

The name “Drakimni” is a common name of several alpine lakes located in the mountains of Greece and it means Dragon Lake. According to the myth, in Drakolimni located on Tymphi Mountain and in Drakolimni on the opposite mountain, Smolikas, there were two dragons that they didn’t get along so well. They fought all day , and every time there was a quarrel, the dragon of Tymfi threw stones towards the lake of Smolikas and the dragon of Smolikas threw stones towards the lake of Tymfi. Today, the only “dragon” living in both lakes is a kind of alpine salamander called alpine Triton (Ichthyosaura alpestris). We had tried unsuccessfully several years ago to see these dragons and the legendary Drakolimni more closely and since then that thought was always in our minds.

We were planning the whole project for over a year and the first weekend of July was the right time. So we woke up very early in the morning and drove from Thessaloniki to Zagorochoria in order to be in the village of Mikro Papigo, where it was the beginning of the path, at 8.30 on Saturday morning.


Distance from Thessaloniki: 315 km

Toll: 6,60

Meal: Sotiria Tavern, Ano Pedina village 15€ per person

Accomodation: Orestis House, Ano Pedina village 40€ double bed room

European Emergency Number:  112

Fire Brigade Dept: 199

Medical Emergency:  166 

Astraka’s refuge 6973223100

Mikro Papigo (950m) – Drakolimni (2050m)

Route Information

Route Description: Trekking (Difficult)

Route Length: 8.7 km

Water in route: Yes

Duration: 6h (ascent) – 5h (descent)

The route took place at JUL 2021

Team members 6 adults

We finally arrived at 9.30 where we met the other two members of the team who were already in the area from the previous night. We started the preparation of the equipment, we said a few words and so we started the route at 10 o clock. Big mistake and we will explain later why. We go up the narrow village cobbled street and we see a sign for the route writing Refuge 3 hours Drakolimni 4. The path from Mikro Papigo to Drakolimni is part of the national mountaineering path O3. The first part of the trail goes up to Astraka’s refuge, the meeting point of almost all the mountain trails and from there it continues either to Drakolimni or to the other high peaks of Tymfi. The average inclination of the route is 20% and the total duration given by most travel guides and route signs is about 4 hours without counting the stops. This timeframe, however, as we figured it out, applies to young people with very good physical condition as well as in ideal weather conditions. We continue for a while on the cobbled street and in a little bit we leave the village and we meet the first of the four fountains of the route. The fountain “Avragonios” (1015 m). A beautiful small stone building in the forest next to the path, like a picture from a fairy tale. It is a good opportunity to fill the water bottles because the next fountain is quite far. The trail now turns eastward ascending between low vegetation and deciduous trees. The path, relatively demanding with good inclination raises us to “Antalki” which is the second fountain of the route.

Βρυση Ανταλκη

We make a stop for rest admiring the wild terrain of the mountain and the “towers of Astraka” as seen through the trees. The sun is already high and the summer heat increases our already great fatigue due to the demanding climb. This short break was really refreshing. We start and soon we come out of the forest and we are now in the alpine zone and at the mercy of the heat. That’s why at the beginning of our story we mentioned that our late start was a big mistake. So be careful, if you attempt this climb you should start the ascent very early in order to be as close as possible to the refuge when the sun is going to find you.

The inclination increases along with the fatigue. We climb slowly, trying to keep our pace as we reach the third fountain of our route,” Trafos”. The landscape is fantastic. Low in the horizon the village of Papigo, around us green alpine meadows and to our opposite the “Towers of Astraka”.

We take another stop for rest and some photos and of we go for the next fountain. As we go up we meet the path that goes west to the summit of Astraka, but we continue straight (east) having the high peaks of the mountain to our right hand. The landscape is wonderful, iconic and dramatic. After a long time of hard hiking we reach “Krouna” the fourth and the last fountain of the route. The stop for rest is a little bigger this time and is proportional to our fatigue. We are now at about 1750 m altitude and we have another 200 m ascent to the refuge.

We start ascending again and after two turns of the path, on the mountain pass , we see the refuge. It may seem close, but it took us an hour to get there. It was really crowded since it is the rest place of all hikers in the mountain. We sit on the terrace admiring the breathtaking view. All around us, the big peaks. Astraka (2,436 m) within a walking distance, in the background Gamila (2,497 m) and Ploskos (2,377 m) Down, low at a mountain valley the small seasonal lakes of Xeroloutsa and Laka Tsoumani and in the horizon on the opposite slope the path to our destination , the path that goes to Drakolimni.

We start the descent to the small ponds that are visible at the base of the slope and we know that we still have an hour and a half walking to our destination. At the beginning with sharp turns and then with a smooth downhill course our path descends to about 200 meters lower in Laka Tsoumani and Xeroloutsa. A herd of wild horses is browsing to the other end of the small valley, making the wild alpine landscape even more idyllic. Stones and grass is our walking terrain.

A small piece of smooth ground about 500 meters, where Laka Tsoumani is, offers us a little rest just before the last uphill. We start again to climb the path that shows us its intentios early. Its inclination and our fatigue is a combination that makes the climb even more demanding. Uphill, uphill, uphill is what brings us closer and closer to our destination. The fastest guys of the team are already ahead while the slowest ones have lagged behind.

We climb the narrow route having next to us the green meadows that reach up to the first rocks of Gamila (on our right ,South Southeast) and of Ploskos (on our left ,West Northwest). We continue the hard ascent and in a little while the uphill relaxes and we see in front of us one of the most beautiful images of the Greek mountains. The Drakolimni of Tymfi. We lie down on the soft grass, exhausted , to rest for a while, before we start the strolling, since we all want to explore the place. The big cliff on the east side overlooking the whole gorge of Aoos, the almost permanent small glacier on the south side, the stunning view of the summits, the small flowers in the meadow that surrounds the lake, are images that do not easily leave the mind.

Photos and videos, as beautiful as they can be, they are just memories and will never be able to capture the live beauty that our eyes are seeing. We gather sun, we gather views, we gather smells and fresh air, we gather calm and serenity. This is the reward that makes you forget all the fatigue.

Our break was really long , due to the photos and the videos and it is time to go back so as not to be caught by the night on the way. We started the return from the same road, this time by descending the uphill path of the lake and ascending with heavy steps from Laka Tsoumani to the refuge. A short stop at the refuge to get organized and of we go with a quick step towards Mikro Papigo. The sun began to set slowly and the dusk gave a different color to the landscape. The darkness was chasing us and fortunately caught us in the last few meters of the path near the village. We arrived in Mikro Papigo at 9.00 at night and in Ano Pedina which was the village where we would stay overnight, at 10 o clock. As tired as we were, we were just as hungry. Our dinner at the tavern of Sotiria, at the entrance of Ano Pedina, was excellent and delicious. Satisfied, much more mentally but now also physically, we headed , tired but full of joy calm and satisfaction, to our small hostel called Orestis House for rest and sleep as the next day we had arranged to visit the Monastery of Stomio.