They lie scattered on Greek mountains, enveloped in myth about strange creatures and stories created by locals in the past. These blue gems decorate the green and sometimes white backdrop of alpine meadows, enhancing the beauty of Greek mountains. They are to be found on hard-to-reach mountain peaks mostly on the Pindus range, on the mountains of Epirus and W. Macedonia. They provide the perfect setting for relaxing and they are a source of beauty and wellbeing to nature-lovers as well as valuable objects for research to scientists. Their name brings to mind fairytales and their existence is a precious gift of Mother Nature!
These mountain lakes are the well-known dragon lakes (drakolimnes) which are remnants of the Ice Age according to scientists, or the dwelling places of dragons incessantly fighting each other according to tradition. They are areas with a singular and sensitive ecological balance. High temperatures, scant nutrients, wide variations in sunlight during the summer and the winter months have turned these alpine lakes into truly unique ecosystems. Their waters are home to the Alpine Newt (Triturus alpestris), a very interesting urodele amphibian, and a strong swimmer which also walks out of water. It is approximately 10-12 cm long with an impressive orange-red colour in the lower part of its body, and a dragon-like appearance!
A number of those lakes hold their waters throughout the year while others get dry during the summer or the autumn, only to come alive again with the winter rain and snow. Over the last years, growing numbers of tourists keep visiting the area. Here is a description of the best known lakes with each one’s features. Visit them and you will no doubt feel entranced by their unmatched beauty and the enveloping atmosphere of myth about them.
TYMFI DRAGON LAKE (Gamila)
It is located on a 2,050 m. elevation on Tymfi massif, between Aoos River and its tributary Voidomatis, in the reserve area of the North Pindus Range NW of Gamila crest (2,497 m.) which is Tymfi’s highest peak. Its shape is elliptic, with a perimeter of approximately 5,000 m. and lies next to the precipice facing Aoos River.
DRAGON LAKES ON GRAMMOS RANGE
Gistova Dragon Lake
This alpine lake is Greece’s largest one and the one on highest ground, as it lies on a 2,350 m. elevation on the massif bordering Albania. High altitude accounts for its frozen surface in winter time.
Arenon Dragon Lake
Nestled in a lush beech forest in Moutsalia location, Arenon Lake is the border between Ioannina and Kastoria Districts as well as between Greece and Albania. It lies on a 1,740 m. elevation and it is a fascinating place right in the heart of the Grammos range, not easy to spot unless you get really close. The lake surface is 15,000 m2 and is only 1 m. deep.Read more…
DRAGON LAKES ON MT. SMOLIKAS
Mt. Smolikas Dragon Lake (Lygas)
It is located on a 2,200 m. elevation on Greece’s second highest mountain, Smolikas. It occupies an area of approx. 3,000-4,000 m2, its perimeter is about 380 human steps and it is a very deep lake. What makes it unique is its singular shape resembling a heart and the intense blue colour of its waters, that’s why it is also called the blue lake!
Mosia Dragon Lake
It is another mountainous lake on Mt. Smolikas, right between Fourka and Samarina peaks. Mosia’s waters are blue during the spring and the summer and become frozen in the winter. The main lake waters flow partly into two other smaller lakes. If you walk around them you will notice the thriving populations of alpine newts swimming in those freezing waters.
DRAGON LAKES ON VALIA KALDA
Flenga Dragon Lakes (Mavrovouni)
On Mt Mavrovouni’s subalpine zone (between Kalampaka and Ioannina towns) on a 1,960 m. and a 1,940 m. elevation you will see two very beautiful natural mountain lakes, called the Flenga twin Dragon Lakes. Spring waters form the lake on the higher level which then feeds the one on the lower level and the latter’s overflowing waters run a course towards Arkoudorema valley in the Pindus National Park. In the winter the lakes become frozen and usually remain in this condition until spring.
Lakkou or Arvanita Dragon Lakes
You will find these lakes on the east side of the Tymfi massif, on a 1,450 m. elevation under the towering heights of Goura, the second highest peak of the massif (2,463 m.). They are seasonal lakes which get filled when snow melts in the springtime.
Verlinga or Vringa Dragon Lake
Near Chaliki, the northernmost village of Aspropotamos area on Mt. Lakmos (aka Peristeri), on a 2,050 m. altitude, you will reach the third mythical dragon lake of the Pindus Range, named Verlinga or Vringa. It is circular in shape, covering an area of 10,000m2, and it is formed out of ten serpentine waterways which are the sources of Acheloos River.
Lake Stefaniada – A Mt. Agrafa Lake
Impressive Lake Stefaniada lies on the Agrafa massif, near Agrafa village. This is the youngest Greek lake as it was formed in 1963 when the earth collapsed, slowly creating a basin which thereafter got filled with water.
Other mountainous Greek lakes
Mountainous Greek areas such as Mts. Vardousia, Velouchi (Tymfristos), Oiti, Giona, Elikonas, Kallidromo, Chelmos, Parnassos and the foot of Psiloreitis all have lakes that are absolutely worth visiting.