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Title: Tymfi  
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Subject: Vikos–Aoös National Park, Vikos Gorge, Iliochori, Mountains of Epirus (region), Zagori
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View of the west face of Mount Tymfi during summer
Elevation 2,497 m (8,192 ft)[1]
Prominence 1,266 m (4,154 ft)[2]
Tymfi is located in Greece
Location within Epirus region, Greece
Location Ioannina regional unit, Epirus, Greece
Range Pindus
Coordinates [3]
Topo map HMGS Tsepelovo; Anávasi Topo 50 Pindus Zagori
Type Fold mountain
Age of rock Palaeocene-Eocene
First ascent unknown; first recorded climbing: 1956
Easiest route walk

Tymfi or Mt Tymphe, Timfi, also Tymphi (Greek: Τύμφη ) is a mountain in the northern Pindus mountain range, northwestern Greece. It is part of the regional unit of Ioannina and lies in the region of Zagori, just a few metres south of the 40° parallel. Tymfi forms a massif with its highest peak, Gamila, at 2,497 m (8,192 ft), being the sixth highest in Greece.

The massif of Tymfi includes in its southern part the Vikos–Aoös National Park which accepts over 100,000 visitors per year.[4] The former municipality of the same name owed its name to the mountain. It also gave its name to the ancient land known as Tymphaea and to the Tymphaeans, one of the tribes in Ancient Epirus.


  • Etymology 1
  • Geography 2
    • Geology 2.1
    • Climate 2.2
  • Αccess 3
  • Wildlife 4
  • Ascent routes 5
    • Climbing 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9


Tymfi is tranlitareted in similar forms: Tymphe, Timfi, also Tymphi. The name "Tymphe" or "Stymphe" is mentioned by ancient geographer Strabo and it gave its name to the district of Tymphaea and the ancient tribe that inhabited it.[5] The etymology of the peaks are mainly of Greek origin. The highest peak "Gamila" derives from the Greek word for "camel". "Megala Litharia" stands for "Big rocks" and "Karteros" for "mighty, powerful". The word "Astraka" means "gutter" and its origins can be either Greek or Slavic.[6] A notable exception is the peak of "Tsouka Rossa" which is in Aromanian and stands for "red peak".


The mountain is surrounded by various massifs that also form part of the northern Vikos Gorge.

The massif includes several peaks that stand above 2400m. From west to east the most prominent are the following: Astraka, 2,436 m (7,992 ft), Ploskos, 2,377 m (7,799 ft), Gamila, 2,497 m (8,192 ft), Gamila ΙΙ, 2,480 m (8,136 ft), Karteros, 2,478 m (8,130 ft), Megala Litharia, 2,467 m (8,094 ft), Tsouka Rossa, 2,379 m (7,805 ft), and Gkoura, 2,466 m (8,091 ft).[7] With the exception of Astraka, the peaks are arranged from north to northeast with their southern slopes forming a plateau. Astraka, being the only peak located to the south, dominates that plateau with its north face. A mountain hut, which operates during the summer months, is located at the mountain pass between the peaks of Astraka and Lapatos at 1930m of altitude.[8] Several lakes are formed on the mountain some of whom drain during the summer. From those that maintain water around the year the most famous is Drakolimni (Dragonlake in Greek), a formation that was created after the retreat of the glaciers.[9] It is located at a height of 2,000 m (6,562 ft) northwest of Ploskos. Its maximum depth is 4.95 m (16 ft), while its surface covers 1 ha (2 acres).[10]

Drakolimni (2054m.) with Gamila summit (2497m.) to the background. The cliffs on the right edge of the picture belong to Ploskos (2377m)


Mount Tymfi represents a series of uplifted fault blocks and faulted escarpments and is largely composed of Palaeocene-Eocene limestone, with some exposures of Campanian-Jurassic dolomite and limestone on the northern scarp. The lower slopes are dominated by younger flysch rocks, which consist of thin beds of graded sandstones intercalated with softer, fissile siltstones.[11] Extended glacial conditions prevailed on the uplands of Mount Tymfi during the Late Quaternary period, ca. 28,000 years ago.[12] The glacial landscape is well-developed, especially on the southern slopes of Mount Tymfi, across the Astraka-Gamila plateau, and in the upland terrain above the villages of Skamneli and Tsepelovo, where lateral and terminal moraines form major landscape features.[13] Additional forms of glacial deposits, which extend down to 850 m (2,789 ft) above sea level,[14] include rock glaciers and limestone pavements.[15]

A number of vertical caves and precipices are found in the area around the village of Papingo, which lies near Gamila and Astraka peaks. Some of them bear names inspired from mythology, such as the Hole of Odysseus and Chasm of Epos. These are being studied and explored by caving enthusiasts. The cave of "Provatina" ("Ewe's Cave), with a depth of 408 m (1,339 ft), one of the deepest worldwide, was first discovered in 1965 by British speleologists of the Cambridge University Caving Club, and has since then been surveyed by a large number of expeditions. The nearby Chasm of Epos, with a depth of 451 m (1,480 ft), drains the water coming from the surrounding plateaus.[16]


There is no meteorological station at the mountain itself and the closest one is located at the village of Papingo. The overall climate of the Vikos–Aoös National Park which includes the mountain is Mediterranean, transitioning to continental. The Mediterranean character is characterized by the annual distribution of precipitation, high in the winter months and experiencing a drought period of two to three months in summer. The continental climatic element is attributed to the high amplitude of annual temperature variation, to such a degree that the difference between mean maximum and mean minimum annual temperature, exceeds 40 °C (104 °F).[17] Extremely low temperatures occur in the area during the winter months. Compared to Mediterranean bioclimatic divisions, the area belongs to the humid zone with cold winters.[17][18] It should be noted that conditions in the mountain might be significantly different from those of lower regions in the same area. Winters are particularly harsh and the mountain is covered in snow from autumn until late May.


The mountain is located at the Zagori region and the nearest settlements are mainly villages. Iliochori, Vrysochori and Laista lie to the east, Skamneli and Tsepelovo to the south, and Papingo and Vikos to the west and southwest respectively.[19] Facilities in the aforementioned villages vary, but most of them offer restaurants and accommodation services. The nearest town is Konitsa to the northwest. The closest city with an airport is Ioannina, approximately 60 km south of Papingo. The coach service from Ioannina offers seven daily coaches to Konitsa and two weekly services to Papingo (on Fridays) as of 2011.[20] The GR-20 (Kozani - Siatista - Ioannina) passes close to the western, northwestern and north sides of the mountain.


Most part of the mountain, with the exception of its southernmost part around the peak of Astraka, forms part of the Vikos–Aoös National Park. The park is a designated protected area and visitors should be aware of the limitations to activities imposed by the law. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) runs an information centre in the village of Papingo.[21]

Tymfi holds the largest recorded population of Balkan chamois deer (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica) in Greece, with a population between 120-130 individuals out of an estimated national population between 477-750.[22] Although chamois is registered as least concern in IUCN's red list, the subspecies balcanica numbers some thousands of individuals and its populations are believed to be declining.[23] According to the Hellenic Ornithological Society mount Tymfi along with the neighbouring mountain Smolikas are important regions for breeding birds of prey, alpine and forest dwelling bird species. The Egyptian vulture, short-toed snake eagle, rufous-tailed rock-thrush breed in the region, whereas species such as the golden eagle, red-billed chough, rock partridge, alpine chough, wallcreeper, white-winged snowfinch and the alpine accentor are sedentary.[24] Alpine reptilian and amphibian species are also present. Vipera ursinii lives in the mountain's subalpine meadows and is considered a threatened taxon.[25] The amphibian alpine newts (Triturus Alpestris), living in the alpine lakes of the mountain, mostly in and around Drakolimni, are associated with local folktales of dragons and dragon battles.[26] Yellow-bellied toads (Bombina variegata) are also common in that same area.[10]

Ascent routes

The simplest and most commonly used route of ascent is the one beginning at the village of Mikro Papingo, located at the western side of the mountain at an altitude of 980 m (3,215 ft). The trail that leads to the Astraka mountain hut, is approximately 6 km long. It is part of the Greek national trail O3 and is generally well marked with signs (red diamond on white) and red dots and arrows on rocks and tree trunks. From the hut, the hikers might either head northeast to the drakolimni alpine lake for another 2.8 km or southeast to reach Gamila peak, which is the highest peak of the mountain at 2,497 m (8,192 ft) for another 6 km.[27] In both cases there are no signposts and the hikers should solely rely on red dots marked on rocks or scarce small signs attached to wooden poles. The hike from Papingo to the hut lasts between 2–3 hours and the round-trip from the hut to drakolimni another 2 hours.[28]

The mountain is also accessible from other surrounding villages but the trails are longer and the terrain rougher and steeper. Therefore they are suggested for more experienced hikers. From the village of Vrysochori at the eastern side of the mountain, a trail of 12.8 km leads to Gamila peak through the Karteros Pass. From the village of Vradeto to the south of the mountain the trail to the peak is approximately 14.9 km. Trails that lead to the mountain can also be followed from Konitsa and Tsepelovo. Those routes are poorly and scarcely marked, mostly by dots of red paint on rocks, and are in some cases unclear and covered by vegetation.


The north face of Astraka photographed in May. The field of Astraka has thirty climbing routes. Note that the lake in the foreground is seasonal

The first recorded climb of the mountain was made on 7–8 June 1956 by Giorgos Michailidis and Giorgos Xanthopoulos who climbed the face of Gamila. Four years later, on 25–26 August 1960, Guido Magnone and Spyros Antypas climbed the northeastern face of Gamila.[29] Currently there are 17 climbing fields on the mountain, covering most of the major peaks and other geological features of the mountain.[30] From the aforementioned fields, the northeastern face of Gamila counts 8 climbing routes,[31] and Gamila II 6.[32] The fields of Astraka and Tsouka Rossa have several climbing routes each. The former counts 30 routes in both its northwestern and northeastern faces, and the latter 19 routes.[33][34] Potential climbers should take into account that several of the routes were first ascended several years ago and thus pitons might be compromised if present at all. Furthermore, some locations in the mountain are isolated and rescue services might find it particularly challenging to access the area in case of emergency.[29]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Prominence is calculated from Petter Bjørstad's site, after correcting the height of Gamila to 2497m instead of the 2481m erroneously mentioned in the site
  3. ^ Data from
  4. ^ Papadopoulou 2008, p. 20
  5. ^
  6. ^ (in Greek)
  7. ^ Information received from (in Greek). Retrieved, 26 April 2011
  8. ^
  9. ^ Paschos, Nikolaou, Papanikos 2004, p. 15
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ Hughes, Gibbard, Woodward 2003, p. 2
  12. ^ Amanatidou, 2005, p. 32
  13. ^ Woodward, Hamlin, Macklin, Hughes, Lewin 2008, p. 8
  14. ^ Hughes, Gibbard, Woodward 2003, p. 3
  15. ^ Woodward, Hamlin, Macklin, Hughes, Lewin 2008, p. 49
  16. ^ Paschos, Nikolaou, Papanikos 2004, p. 16
  17. ^ a b Amanatidou 2005, pp. 23–24
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ KTEL Ioaninon. Papingo is searched as "PAPIGO" in the service's engine
  21. ^ The relevant page in the website of WWF (accessed 30 May 2011)
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Natura 9
  26. ^
  27. ^ Distances are mentioned as calculated by Although the site is in Greek, the maps and GPS data offered might still be of use to non-Greek users
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^


External links

  • Map of the mountain from Greek National Tourism Organisation
  • Greek Mountain Flora
  • Climbing routes on Hellenic mountains
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