Trip Start Aug 28, 2007
28Trip End Nov 02, 2007
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Monodendri is part of the Zagorahoria, a collection of tiny villages on hilltops surrounding the Vikos Gorge (according to Let's Go, the steepest gorge on the planet). It has a permanent population of only about 150 people, and is not the most accessible place, which is part of its appeal of course.
We almost didn't make it. Buses only go to Monodendri three times a week from the nearest big city (Ioannina). We had planned our departure from Corfu to fall on a Wednesday, to coincide with the Mon-Wed-Fri bus schedule to Monodendri. However, after a bus ride, a ferry, and another bus ride, we arrived in Ioannina to find that the bus schedule had changed and there were no longer any Wednesday departures. Oops - this is where it probably pays to double check the info in your guidebook
As you might imagine, it took all of five minutes to explore the little town, so we spent most of our time wandering the surrounding cobblestone paths and hiking trails. We found one trail that led to a tiny monastery with sweeping views of the gorge. It also had an offshoot trail that led to a huge cave, which unfortunately we couldn't reach without bouldering.
If you're headed to Monodendri:
1) Stay at Arhondiko Zarkada hotel - great value for the money
2) Consider a stopover in Ioaninna, especially if you are craving some city living. We passed through it to change buses on our way to and from Monodendri, and it seemed like a pretty nice town, set on a beautiful lake.
After taking another early morning ferry, several buses, and standing for a half hour on the side of the road in the middle of rainy nowhere, we finally made it to Monodendri. This sleepy little town is a must-see for serious hikers. The Vikos Gorge, deepest on Earth, runs along right next to Monodendri. The views were great, especially from the old monastery. Michelle and I walked a 4-foot-wide trail behind the monastery, above a sheer drop. The trail led to a cave where the monks used to hide from marauders. The problem is, the trail ends at a mossy angle over the ravine, and you would need a rope and some courage to actually make it all the way to the cave.