Thursday, November 15, 2012

Expedition: Pavliani Valley and Tziros Pond on Mount Iti

Mid November 2012

Sometimes you find something remarkable, especially when you never thought such a thing could ever exist - in context. My followers know that I love to explore new places, to map the waters of Greece,  often with the help of rather interesting locals. Last weekend I was invited to a seminar at one of Greece's Environmental Education Centers at the village of Ypati near Mount Iti (near Lamia- 3 hours north of Athens). So after the seminar I took advantage of the situation and did some electrofishing - and work - exploring the streams of Mount Iti National Park (this will be show-cased in an upcoming blurb, maybe...). Anyway, on the last day of the expedition on Mount Iti we actually descended a bit to the rather well-known village of Pavliani (at 850 m.elevation - this is about 2 hours northwest of Athens). Here I had heard talk of a "lake". Well, we found both the pond and the man who is behind an ingenious ecotouristic venture. Vangellis, a local artist, became our friend and guide. His dream is to "open-up" the Pavliani Valley to nature-loving visitors - and I think he also really loves to bring out a laugh or two. He is behind the creation of special wooden structures and trail-signs that really lend "colour" to this beautiful place. Local people donate petty-cash and he builds and clears trails etc etc. So you can follow his trail down the Pavliani Valley to a spring-fed pond and marsh - wow!!! Most lakes or ponds on mountain sides in Greece are artificial, so I expected a tiny artificial pool where goats are watered etc. No way - this is extra special....natural!....and with jungle-like riparian woods all around - fantastic. And inside the lake we electrofished and found a species of Pelasgus (a kind of rare minnow). What a discovery! 

Tziros Pond, at about 760 m. asl. is a natural spring-fed wetland!

My guides. Vangellis on left is local artist-nature lover who create's inspirational signage and tree-house structures in the Pavliani Valley. Stelios is leader of the Environmental Education Center at Ypati and Stylida (near Lamia). 

A happy explorer with local activist Thanassis who spends most of his time trying to protect the wider Mount Iti area.  Thanassis is a great photographer and eco-reporter and I will show-off some of his photos next blog. 

Typical signage by Vangellis - he has created about 100 such signs -some are really quite humorous - this one reads: "The Amazon Jungle" and it leads to a secret spot in the Tziros Pond.
These are the sort of signs Vangellis does. Some are hand-written by him, others by visiting schools and volunteers. Do you like it?

Close-up of Myriophylum and Potemogeton in Tziros Pond. The pond was alive with wildlife - Alpine newts, huge medicinal leaches, etc. But locals say no Eels reach here.
Amazingly harmonic look-out house created by Vangellis overlooking the Tziros Pond. The guy is an amazing carpenter - reminding me of tree-house experts featured in the books of Richard Louv. Check it out....
What would a pond be without a look-out? I love wilderness and being alone- but in this case Vangellis really helps the youth go out  to discover such wonders. To live the peace.

In the Pavliani Valley about 50' downstream - it is beautiful and wild - inspiring a feeling of being in the motion-pic AVATAR. Perhaps a little over-done here - but that's Vangellis.

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