In fact diversity is the very essence of Prespa, delighting birders, naturalists, walkers, photographers and painters alike with such things as …
All of this and more have been meticulously documented in the Prespa Walking Guide produced by the Society for the Preservation of Prespa (SPP) located in Laimos. The guide includes fourteen self-guided walking tours, rated by distance, duration and grade, all accompanied by stunning photographs and three detailed maps. Guides can be obtained by Hotel Mimallones for guests upon request, or purchased at one the SPP Information Centers. Local guides both walking and boat tours can also be arranged by hotel staff upon request.
Since becoming a national park in 1974, Prespa has been renowned for its bird species. Much of the focus is unsurprisingly on pelicans as both the white and Dalmatian pelicans breed on the lakes. Prespa is home to nearly 1400 pairs of the endangered Dalmatian pelican, accounting for between seven and ten percent of its global population, and the colony is the largest of its kind in the world. But the pelicans are only two of the nearly 270 species that can be found in the area. Seven heron species nest in the reeds of Lesser Prespa Lake, including purple, squacco and little bittern, and an internationally important population of pygmy cormorants cross back and forth between the lakes. Golden eagles breed on the high mountains, short-toed eagles fly past with snakes in their beaks and hoopoes, bee-eaters and golden orioles bring bright colour to the meadows and plains.
The wealth of Prespa’s flora stems in part from its underlying geology, both limestone and granite, enabling two different groups of plants to coexist in a single place. More than 1500 species of plants have so far been recorded, and more are being discovered each year. In spring and early summer the thyme-carpeted slopes of Mount Devas come alive with orchids, including lizard, toothed and monkey orchids. A range of fritillaries, fumitories and wild irises flower across the limestone hillsides, where the endemic Prespa centaury also takes root. On the predominantly granite mountains across the lake white asphodels can be found alongside wild tulips, while in the damp meadows marsh orchids flower together with the beautiful Geum coccineum, a plant more common to Asia than Europe.
This range of wildflowers brings with it a wealth of butterflies, and Prespa supports 172 of Greece’s 234 species. Only a few areas in the eastern Rodopi Mountains are as well represented. Mount Varnous alone hosts 161 of these butterflies and Mount Triklario (Sfika) is home to 130 species, making Prespa one of Europe’s most celebrated places for butterfly specialists. A walk in Prespa anytime from spring to autumn is accompanied by a cloud of colours.
While the world of mammals is never easy to see, the chances are better in Prespa because of the large number of species found in the area. Sixty-one mammals make their home in the basin, from European wildcats that are sometimes seen amongst the meadows and fields to otters, whose tracks can easily be followed along the shores of the large lake. Water buffalo and local cattle can be seen grazing on the wet meadows of Mikri Prespa as part of a vegetation management plan to open the reedbeds to the aquatic birds. Twenty-six species of bat have recently been surveyed in Prespa, making it the most important region in the country for this often misunderstood creature. But it is the signs of the brown bear that many remember most; finding their impressive prints in the earth or snow reminds us of the wonders we live alongside though rarely see.
Prespa offers a great range of outdoor experiences suitable for all ages and interests. There are gentle strolls through flower-filled meadows or around the island of Agios Achilleios where visitors can explore the remains of lakeside monasteries and a three-aisled 10th C. Byzantine basilica. In the village of Psarades, small boats ferry visitors to explore the various hermitage nestled in the cliffs overlooking Megali Prespa Lake. From the villages of Agios Germanos and Laimos there are trails that wind up into the mountains for those keen to explore the heights and the rich wildlife of the alpine meadows, or paths through the oak and beech forests.
Casual walks through the villages of Prespa reveal many examples of the beautiful stone architecture of the region. Many of the traditional houses (referred to as ‘palia spitia’ or old houses), originally built out of stone and clay bricks with roofs of straw or stone tiles, have been restored in recent years and, as in the past, intermingle with tavernas, 'ouzeria' and cafes where you can enjoy traditional mezedes, a Greek coffee, or the locally-produced spirit, 'tsipouro' in the company of the hospitable local residents.
Bicycles are also an ideal way to experience much of Prespa’s wildlife by following a route beside the lakes where pelicans, herons, egrets and many other species easily can be seen. Mountain bikes can be rented locally and our staff will arrange to have them delivered directly to guests at the hotel. Exercise of another type can also be enjoyed by visitors to Prespa … Dancing with local residents to traditional 'halkina' (brass band) music at village "panegyria"!
And for those times of relaxation, there are always the splendid views of the lakes and mountains to be enjoyed in any season … unforgettable memories of the beautiful, enriching, diverse place that is Prespa!
For more information about Hotel Mimallones and Prespa…
Please visit our website at www. mimallones.gr
For bookings, you can contact us by email or telephone at:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +30 23850 51 422 or +30 6944 733 391
Hotel Mimallones is open year-round and hosts Yannis and Hra Konstantinou are ready to make your stay in Prespes as relaxing and comfortable as possible. Their warm hospitality and knowledge of the many things to do and see in Prespa, will ensure a delightful visit! In addition, Yannis' wealth of information about the greater area of Florina and Kastoria is invaluable when planning day trips to the ski slopes of Vigla, the old town of Kastoria, the bear sanctuary of Nymfaio, the vineyards of Amindeo, or the cross-border regions bordering Prespa.
We look forward to your visit!