There is a hidden gem in the Pindus mountains of Greece, experience of which can only really be described as walking into a fairytale; a charming spot in the middle of a green forest crossed by a crystal clear river and by night a playground for fireflies that come out and start dancing in between the trees.
I am talking about Sarakatsani Stani at Giftokampus. It is located in the middle of Zagori between the villages of Skamnelli and Illiochori.
The Sarakatsani Stani
The Sarakatsani were traditionally native Greek shepherds whose historical home patch was the Pindus mountains.
Nowadays, almost all Sarakatsani have abandoned their nomadic way of life. In 2008 this place was built as a way to preserve and allow outsiders to admire their cultural heritage. There is an outdoor museum made up of a collection of traditional huts, which give a very vivid picture of how the Sarakatsani used to live. Some of the huts have the original types of beds, carpets and kitchen tools to add a little more colour to this window on a bygone age. You will also find a hut for the teacher and one where they used to make cheese.
Giftokampus, a hidden gem in the Pindus mountains
Back to the roots
Vassilis Raptis is half Sarakatsani. He established this place, with a group of friends, with the vision of bringing an almost forgotten era to back to life. They will give you a tour around and tell you all about the traditional way of life of the Sarakatsani. However, their aim is not only to illustrate to the visitor how a group of nomadic shepherds went about their daily business in previous centuries. Through their own commitment to the project and experience, they want to demonstrate exactly what it is like to live so close to nature. They left their homes in the city to come and settle here in the mountains. At the tavern you will find them serving coffee, tsipouro and vegetarian food to anyone that wants it. Everything is produced locally, either from their own vegetable gardens or from areas nearby.
Financial gain couldn’t be further from the minds of this enthusiastic and inspiring trio. They just want to live here and share this idyllic setting with anybody who is interested. They want to bring people into direct contact with nature so they can experience for themselves how important it is for us all. True to their own philosophy, they have made entry to the outdoor museum and the tavern absolutely free. If you like the place and/or the food, it is up to you to support them and their endeavour in whatever way you think is best.