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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 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.
Kerkini can’t help but fascinate, as the whole setting seems lifted from a nature channel documentary. Here on holiday in Macedonia, you become part of the interaction between people and animals, birds and trees, fields and reed beds, water and fish. Taken together, they create a very special atmosphere. Everything coexists in this peaceful kingdom in a delicate yet dynamic balance.
If you’re an ornithologist, you’ll think you’re in heaven at Kerkini. Flocks of Dalmatian pelicans, herons of all kinds, pygmy cormorants… all frequent the area. 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.
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.
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’ little port, get off your bike. The woods here are ideal for a walk.
Just the place for an adventure within nature. In a 4x4 or on foot, set off to discover a place of special beauty: water lily ponds, cormorants’ nests and a rich world of birds and flowers.
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.
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, custard-like sweet kazan dipi, a regional speciality.