4×4 Offroad Tours in Greece with Offroad Unlimited.
There is is no such a thing as a standard tour says Nikos of Offroad Unlimited. “No matter how many times we have driven the same tracks,we always come across something new – which mother Nature has generously provided for us.
Offroad Unlimited was founded by Nikos in 2013 and in 2016 Agelos joined the company. The company offers guided 4×4 tours in Greece, for small groups of people who drive their own vehicles and available at various levels of difficulty.
To give you a flavour of the type of tour that Offroad Unlimited provides, Nikos gives us an overview of what the company is all about by taking us through one of their tours, the Ipiros Tour which took place during May 2018.
The Ipiros Tour starts at Manteio, Dodoni, which is conveniently situated only an hours drive on the highway from the port of Igoumenitsa. This port is where the majority of the guests arrive by ferry from Italy.
The Mirtali Art Hotel is the primary base for welcoming guests and is also the place where Offroad Unlimited perform minor (or not so minor depending on the circumstance) preparations and modifications to vehicles in anticipation of the tour ahead.
A few beers, and later a home-cooked dinner and a good night’s rest help give all the participants a little kick-start for the adventures that lie ahead.
On the first day, the tour makes its way to Kalarites, a remote traditional village that has fewer than 15 inhabitants. Normally, this would be a pretty easy route with only very light offroad driving required, and a good day to ease into the tour. But on this occasion a fallen tree (and it seemed like half a fallen mountain), made the path very interesting today.
In Kalarites, a beautiful and picturesque mountainous village populated by wonderful stone houses, Napoleon and his wife Lamprini, are always there to welcome us, all year round they are open to provide us with their unique hospitality and a glimpse of tradition that is nowadays very rare to see.
A few of Napoleon’s famous house-distilled tsipouro (an alcoholic beverage made of distilled grape juice) and a delicious dinner with real Greek food and we all ended up singing songs in the cavernous and exotic 1000 year old cellar!
The next day the adventure really begins. We attempt to cross the Peristeri mountain,(the highest peak of the Pindus mountain range, at 2,295 m elevation, but we have to take a detour due to snow in order to reach our ‘playground’ for the day, the beautiful Rona forest. There we wrestled with deep trenches, heavy mud and snow, (lots of snow) .
At the end of the day we camped in a nice clearing in the woods, where we cooked and enjoyed a roaring camp fire until late in the night.
The following day we headed to another favourite ‘playground’, a rough off-map trail that goes through a stream, where rock-crawling and pretty tough crossings are everywhere for those who wish to play a little and challenge their vehicles, and a lighter (but no less interesting) path for the “wiser”.
After the stream and before we arrive at the location of our next campsite, we have first to pass through a number of deep trenches on a steep uphill track , a task that varies from “very interesting” in dry conditions to ‘hard core’ if the ground is anyway wet. We eventually all arrive in one piece and unscathed.
The next morning on our way north we have another surprise from mother nature.. a large chunk of the road is missing! There is no way around the landslide and no alternative routes are available, so we have to turn back, once again through the trenches and the stream – no one complains.
We drive now instead to a beautiful lake and through another stream and a muddy forest trail before we reach our next overnight location, our beloved ‘Pindos Resort’ in Krania, and the warm welcome and the hospitality of Babis and Sofia.
Here we enjoy some amazing local organic wines and Sofia’s famous cooking until very late in the night, before resting our tired bodies this evening on the soft beds and under warm duvets for a great night’s rest.
Leaving Krania, after “a little breakfast” Pindos Resort style and feeling a few kilos heavier, we visit the two traditional bridges in the area, the first one by crossing a river and the second by driving in the river – a unique experience for many of our guests. We then, take a very steep uphill trail through the forest and reach our next campsite on the top of a hill with a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside and a sky full of stars – with such an amazing vista to enjoy, there is not much else someone could wish for.
We build up a huge campfire and enjoy a few glasses of wine, spirits are high this evening and we have a really great time, talking laughing and joking by the campfire.
The following day is ‘training day’. We meet with local offroaders who know the area very well and we spend a few hours in their playground, which is an offroad training facility that has tracks for all levels of driver and is really fun to play in. Later, having had great fun and after some of us have learned some new techniques we drive to our next campsite which is located right next to a beautiful stream, where we enjoy great evening outdoors under a starry sky.
The next day’s trail is maybe the most attractive of all the day’s driving , this day starts out with a drive along a wonderful river bed that leads to a mountain, driving through a dense forest and a long driving up towards and onto the summit. An amazing experience for everyone.
The end of the day finds us at the most remote area of the entire tour, outside the village of Plikati, right at the border. Plikati is one of the northernmost villages in Epirus and is an old village, with a church dating from the 16th century. We spend the night in mountain huts, surrounded by all sorts of animals that are wandering about and investigating us.
Dinner is prepared by Vasso and Giorgos with all of the ingredients coming from the local area and which cannot be found elsewhere – a truly unique culinary experience!
The next day we head south, through a very demanding trail. This section is difficult as it was partially destroyed during the previous winter and really requires a lot of effort to cross. After much work and lots of demanding driving, we decide to abandon our initial plans for camping that night and instead we decide to enjoy Kostas’ and Maria’s warm hospitality in Hotel Kadi in the picturesque village of Tsepelovo. Of course, we dare not miss the chance to dine at Mikri Arktos (a cosy tavern on the village’s pretty square) where we enjoy traditional, tasty food and the best lemon mousse a person can taste, baked by Thomas.
Our final day begins with a short, but really very pretty offroad trail, through a dense forest with amazing colours. Later, we split the group into two, where one half of the group head to visit the world famous Vikos gorge and the other half to Papigko village, our last overnight location, to be picked up and enjoy a fun rafting experience on the Voidomatis river.
The excellent hospitality of Giorgos at Papaevangelou Hotel one of the best guesthouses in Greece and the great dining experience at Pantheon, our favourite restaurant in Papigo, run by Tassos (a real grill-master) and Voula, his wife and the heart and soul of the place, was the best ending we could ask for at the close of another great Tour.
4×4 Offroad Tours in Greece with Offroad Unlimited