Ecotourism at its best in one of the most important wetlands in Europe

Who was it who said that when man intervenes in nature, the results are invariably disappointing? Lake Kerkini refutes that statement 100%. It’s a lake born after a dam was built in 1932 and with the passage of time, it has metamorphosed into a veritable Macedonian paradise. Enjoy the pleasures of ecotourism: A sanctuary for birds and humans alike, the calm, unruffled lake offers itself for birdwatching and boating, while its shores are perfect for cycling and walks. Try Kerkini for the pause that refreshes.

What to do in Kerkini

Thousands of creatures, one ecosystem
Kerkini can’t help but fascinate, as the whole setting seems lifted from a nature channel documentary. Here on holiday in Macedonia, you too can play a role in the scenario, as you become part of the interaction between people and animals, birds and trees, fields and reed beds, water and fish. Taken altogether, these constitute a very special atmosphere. Everything coexists in this peaceful  kingdom in a delicate yet  dynamic balance.

Time for birdwatching
If you’re a ornithologist, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven at Kerkini. Flocks of Dalmatian pelicans, herons of all kinds, pygmy cormorants… all frequent the area. In fact, more than 300 species have been identified here, many of them endangered. For more birds of a different feather, including raptors, take your binoculars up to Mts Beles and Krousia just north of the lake. The heart of ecotourism beats here  in Macedonia.

Paddle your own canoe
Grab your paddles, your friends and take to the water in a  canoe (large enough for three) or a plava, the traditional flat-bottomed craft used by local fishermen, and explore the beguiling  world of Kerkini. These boats are ideal for skimming over shallow water between half-submerged trees and clusters of reeds. Unsure of your skills? Join a lake tour.

Cycling around the lakeside villages
The land around the lake is flat, just right for a bike ride or gentle walk to get to know the district’s quiet villages. First stop, Kerkini, with its pleasant low buildings and broad streets. Next, Lithotopos, where you can see how the lake was created. A paved road will take you to a spot just above the dam. When you get to Lithotopos’s little port, get off your bike. The woods here are ideal for a walk.

Hidden gems of Kerkini

The forest of Kerkini
Just the place for an ecological adventure. In a 4×4 or on foot – to avoid the risk of getting stuck in the mud – set off to discover a place of special beauty;  water lily ponds, cormorants’ nests and a rich world of birds and flowers.

Ano Poria, for a change of scene
This village, nestled amidst incomparable scenery at the foot of Mt Beles, is the most developed in this hilly area. Here you’ll find cosy hotels, cafes and tavernas. Akritohori also has hotels and is near the Timios Prodromos monastery, which should also be on your must-see list.

Kerkini’s water buffaloes
Once a dying breed, these gentle beasts are flourishing once more. You may see them wading in the lake. Look for buffalo milk yogurt and the caramelised, custardlike sweet kazan dipi, a regional speciality.