Rich vegetation and fauna, impressive ravines, magnificent mountainous volumes, mountain lakes, rapids and protected areas (Vikos-Aoos National Park, Natura 2000 Networks, Dusko-Nemertsika Mountains, Aoos-Voidomatis Riverside, Sarantaporos Straits, North Pindos National Park , Geopark of Vikos-Aoos), make up the diverse landscape of the region of Konitsa. The area is a habitat for brown bears, wild goats, otters, deer, wild boars and many other mammals and birds. In the rivers swimming or wild trout, as well as other fish species.
An enchanting gorge of rare beauty that starts from the stone bridge of Kleidonia and reaches to the west exit of the Vikos gorge between the villages of Papigo and Vikos. Stunning plane trees, splinters and other trees make up an enchanting scenery. In the frozen waters of the river live trout. It has been one of the most popular destinations for lovers of kayaking and rafting for years. A well-traveled path, moving on the river bank, pushes you to discover the interior of the gorge. With a little effort, along this two-hour route, the visitor will discover the shallow caves (rocky roofs) in which the first people lived a few thousand years before today and the charming little church of Agioi Anargyroi.
Strait of Sarantaporos
It is a gorge of about one kilometer on the Sarantaporos River, between the villages of Exohi, Pyxarias and Kavasilon, a short distance from the Greek-Albanian border. The canyon has vertical walls, often over 150 m high and characterized by remarkable riparian and Mediterranean vegetation.
Where the southern slopes of Trapezitsa and Rodopounios blend with the northwestern slopes of Tymphi, the great ravine of the Aoos River is formed.
In the area of the gorge there are various types of forest ecosystems from maia and riparian forests to beeches and robe. Many small rivers and waterfalls run from cliffs to Aoos. The altitude difference from the river to the peaks reaches 2000m. The length of the ravine is 8 km in total, starting from the monumental bridge of Aoos (1870) and ends west of the road Paleoselio – Vrysochori. Its width varies from 300 m to 2,5 km. At the height of the waterfall of Gravo is the historic Stomi Monastery, built in 1774. A trail from Vrysohori ascends to the tops of Tymphi through the crossroads of Karteros. Another path rises from the bridge of Konitsa to the Stomi Monastery and continues until the dragon and the peak Gamila. The Aoos River is generally the popular destinations for canoeing – kayaking and rafting (it offers different levels of difficulty depending on the part of the river).
Aoos – Voidomatis riverside forest
It is a marvelous riparian forest, a remnant of the ancient riverside forests of the area, with perennial plane trees, willows, poplars and alder trees.
It is a marvelous ecosystem with the presence of important and rare vegetation units and particular habitats of rare, protected and endemic species of fauna and flora. Also the uniqueness of the aesthetics of the riparian forest is awe-inspiring to the visitor. That’s why it has been proposed to be characterized as Landscape of Particular Natural Beauty.
Bourazani is an extensive semi-mountainous area in the northwest of the Prefecture of Ioannina. As silent giants, from the early November, the snowy mountains of Grammos, Tymphos and the borderline of Nemertsika embrace the valley and identify, despite its low altitude, its mountainous personality. The water presence of the Aoos and Sarantaporos rivers, the dense oak forests, the green hills feigned by fertile fields, determine its geomorphology.
The Arrenes lakes are located in the mountainous area of Grammos, a border between the prefectures of Ioannina and Kastoria, as well as Greece – Albania, and at an altitude of 1740 meters. They are located in the shadow of Ano Arrna Grammos, 2,196 meters, hidden in beech forests enchanting the visitor since they are not distinguished until they reach a close distance.
Their depth does not exceed one meter, and they come across three kinds of thirds: triturus alpestris, triturus vulgaris and triturus cristatus. Also in the area of the lake live the yellow frog (bombina variegata) and the frog (rana graeca), salamandra salamandra, lacerta agilis and the vibera berus Grammos is located at its southern point of spreading to the European area. Access is via a dirt road, either from Aetomilitsa of Ioannina or from Pefkofytos Kastoria. The road becomes inaccessible in the winter months due to intense snowfall and the lakes completely freeze, giving the impression that it is just a snow covered plateau.
North Pindos National Park
The North Pindus National Park includes most of the mountain range. It has an area of about 2,000 square meters. km. It was established in 2005, as a result of the union of the two pre-existing National Forests, Vikos Aoos and Pindos (Valia Kalda), the first to the west, and the second to the east of the present National Park. Apart from the above-mentioned protected areas, another 7 Natura 2000 sites are located in the National Park, some of which are located in Konitsa (Smolikas, Vasilitsa) and the rest in neighboring areas. The purpose of establishing the National Park is to protect and properly manage ecosystems, habitats and wildlife in conjunction with the mild development of the local communities included in it. The National Park includes areas of the prefectures of Ioannina and Grevena. The large mountainous complexes of the National Park include Smolikas and Kleftis, Vasilitsa and the branches of Turgiakas and Orliakas, the mountains of Lygos and the wider area of Valia Kalda, Tymphi with the two ravines of Vikos and Aoos, Trapezitsa , the mountains of Central and Eastern Zagori and Mitsikeli. The entire southeastern part of Konitsa (Smolikas, Vasilitsa, Trapezitsa, Tymphi, Aoos valley and ravine, Vidomatis gorge) is located in the North Pindos National Park. In the National Park there are lands of the Municipality of Konitsa and the Community of Distraktos.
The National Park consists of 4 distinct zones of classified protection: the Nature Conservation Area, the Habitats and Species Conservation Area, the National Park Area and the Peripheral Zone itself. Concerning the wider area of Konitsa, the Aoos Gorge and the Volomatis gorge are included in the conservation area of habitats and species, and the remaining part of the Tymphis and Trapezitsa mountain range, as well as the large peaks of Smolikas. The rest of the National Park is located in the most relaxed areas of the National Park.