This tour transports us to the Epirus region of northwestern Greece, hailed as a land of legends. Perhaps the Ionian Sea should be called the Sea of Myths. Its name is attributed by ancient Greek writers to the myth of Io. The stories are many and varied. Io was a beautiful woman who became the lover of Zeus, precipitating many adventures, including fleeing from Hera, Zeus’ wife, across the sea that now bears her name, to Egypt. Reading stories and history about this area, there are also appearances by Neoptolemus, who was the son of Achilles, Helios, Poseidon, Charon, Pyrrhus and even Antony and Cleopatra among others. On our last day of rowing, we will follow in the path of Odysseus, rowing up the “River of Woe” to the temple of the “Oracle of Death”. We know that in the myths he and many others returned alive from this river and journey. So will we, making it a mythical Ionian Sea rowing trip.
Epirus and the Ionian Sea have attained a legendary reputation as a tourism destination, in part for its gorgeous landscapes and seascapes. Comparisons have been made to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Along a shoreline dented with coves, adorned with quiet beaches and sprinkled with islands, caves carved into white cliffs rise straight up from turquoise water. Picturesque towns nestle between water and low hills, green with pine, olive and fruit trees. There is history and archeological sites plus wonderful accommodation and of course fabulous Greek food, eaten family style with shareable platters arriving at big tables under the stars.
Greece is the perfect destination for a coastal rowing tour, offering kilometres of stunning coastline, beautiful beaches and stunning blue water. We love our Norther Beach Paradise tour on the Aegean coast of norther Greece, but the Ionian Sea has special charms. The winds are gentler here, with the shore frequently offering a protective barrier. You will be in the excellent hands of Nikos Gkountoulas, one of the best coastal rowers in the world, along with his twin brother Apostolis. Together they were World Champions in the pair and still delight in rowing together. Experienced coastal rowers will enjoy this beautiful area, while rowers new to coastal will have the opportunity to add additional skills to their rowing repertoire. This is slated to become a legendary tour.
Non-rowing companions welcomed. Please contact us for pricing and details .
|Daily Distances||Boats||Max Group Size|
|10-15 km/day||Coastal coxed quads and doubles||11 rowers|
While transportation from Thessaloniki at the beginning of the tour is included in the trip price, we leave first thing in the morning. You can also arrive at our night’s accommodation by alternate means – details on arrival options will be provided. We love Thessaloniki and highly recommend that you plan on a few days here, if you have not previously visited. Or even if you have! There are many other things to further enjoy in northern Greece, before or after your rowing trip. Recommended are excursions to Vergina –Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, or to Dion and Mount Olympus.
Note that this is the first time this Greece rowing tour will be run, so it is somewhat experimental in nature. Plans could change. In particular, sea and weather conditions will be an important consideration – safety is a priority. Thus, on some days, the actual program may vary from this description.
There are many ways to get to our first night in Ioannina, in northwestern Greece and the heart of Epirus. We will offer a transfer from Thessaloniki, leaving in the morning. Ioannina is a beautiful Byzantine city where we will settle in for two nights. We may even have time to visit Dodoni – a nearby oracle more ancient than Delphi. Origin of name may stem from Dodon, a son of Zeus by Europa (that Zeus gets around). We are confident that the oracle will portent a favourable week of Ionian Sea rowing. Welcome dinner and briefing this evening.
Our first day of rowing is actually not on the sea. We will enjoy a cruise around Lake Pamvotis, with views of mountains in the background. Will we see the ghost of Ali Pasha, a legendary but very real Albanian despot, killed by Ottoman troops on the lake’s island in 1822? Off the water, there is excellent hiking for those who are vigorous. There are several excellent museums or perhaps shopping for the traditional silverwork that the city is known for. Dinner on your own tonight – we have lots of suggestions.
In the morning we head to the Ionian Sea and begin our exploration of this mythical coastline. We will launch from Plataria and row to Syvota, a charming fishing village and our base for the next five days. Syvota was site of a massive naval battle in antiquity, which is said to have been a catalyst for the Peloponnesian War, which in turn has spawned more stories and legends. As we relax in our delightful waterfront hotel, there will be no echoes of those battles, just village life and holiday sounds.
This will be a day spend rowing and swimming as we explore the Syvota islands complex. We will find really beautiful beaches. We could stop at the small beaches of Zeri, Galikos Ormos or Zavia, but the exotic bay of Pishina is the best of these blue lagoon beaches. We will walk throw the narrow path to the old lighthouse boasting a magnificent view. After exploring big sea caves and we end our day at Bello Vrako, another spectacular beach. In between all this sea and sand, a lunch of traditional Greek food will be enjoyed at the old village of Perdika.
In the morning, back to the boats and we will continue our Ionian Sea rowing, heading south. Our destination is Karavostasi beach. Development is fairly new to this location, dominated by green hills. Naturally we will pass more exquisite beaches and coastline with water every shade of blue.
The Greeks call Parga the island on the land, and as we finish our day of rowing by arriving here, you will see why. This colourful and picture perfect village feels like a quintessential island village. Hugged by green hills around a bay and faced by turquoise water and with narrow twisting streets, Parga was once a Venetian possession. Before returning to Syvota for the night we will stroll to the ruins of the castle from that period, which offers magnificent views onto the community and nearby islands and, of course, beaches.
Our last row really immerses us in mythology. Leaving Parga, our destination is the mouth of the river Acheron. In ancient Greek mythology, Acheron was known as the “river of woe” and was one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. Homer called it the river of Hades or Hell, while Virgil describes how newly dead would be ferried across the Acheron by Charon to enter the underworld. A Byzantine writer, Soudas, has a more positive spin, calling it a river of healing and cleansing. Another myth says that Acheron had been a son of Helios and either Gaia or Demeter. He was turned into a river punishment after he refreshed the Titans with drink during their contest with Zeus. We will row up the river to the temple of Necromanteion or the “Oracle of Death” and entrance to Hades. Don’t worry, we will return to Syvota for a farewell dinner, sharing our own tales, myths and legends.
You might feel some woe today since it is the end of this Ionian Sea rowing tour. But the stories you will have to tell! Oh and if you are flying out of Prevara airport, give a nod of acknowledgement to the site of the naval Battle of Actium where Octavio defeated Antony and Cleopatra. The legends never end.