mountains & monasteries

Photographing the iconic mountains & monasteries of Greece

METEORA

Join National Geographic photographer & filmmaker, George S Blonsky in 2023/24 for your next photographic odyssey to some of the most iconic locations in Greece.

The Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα, “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above”) is one of the largest and most important complex of monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The monasteries are built on spectacular natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Peneios river and Pindos Mountains, in central Greece. The Metéora is home to six monasteries and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Although it is unknown when Metéora was established, as early as the 11th century AD hermit monks were believed to be living among the caves and cutouts in the rocks. By the late 11th or early 12th century a rudimentary monastic state had formed called the Skete of Stagoi and was centered around the church of Theotokos (mother of God), which still stands today. The hermit monks, seeking a retreat from the expanding Turkish occupation, found the inaccessible rock pillars of Meteora to be an ideal refuge. More than 20 monasteries were built, beginning in the 14th century but only six remain occupied today.

Visiting Meteora for the first 2 days of this 7 day landscape photography tour we will chase the light photographing sunsets and sunrises as the sun beams through this epic valley of monasteries.

PINDOS

The Pindos (Greek: Πίνδος) mountain range is located in northern Greece and southern Albania and is approximately 160 km long, with a maximum elevation of 2,637m at the peak of Mount Smolikas. Often called the “spine of Greece”, the mountain range stretches from near the Greek-Albanian borders in Northern Epirus runs through the Epirus & Macedonia regions all the way down to the northern edge of the Peloponnese.

The Pindos ecoregion covers a wide range of elevations and habitats, from deep canyons & gorges to steep mountains and the wide range in altitude results in two major forest zones:

  • A coniferous zone, with trees such as a subspecies of Austrian Pine and the endemic Greek Fir characterizing the highest elevations and Juniper woodlands dominating near the treeline;
  • A mixed broadleaf forest zone dominates the valleys and gorges of the middle and lower elevations.

Large breeding colonies of herons, spoonbills, egrets and pelicans fish the cool waters of the mountain lakes of the Pindos Mountains and this is one of the few areas in Europe where the rare and endangered Dalmatian Pelican can be found as well as wolves, jackals and bears.

For the latter 5 days of this landscape photography tour we will enjoy hiking through prehistoric valleys, gorges & canyons photographing nature in all her glory. We will visit and photograph the famed ancient stone arch bridges of Kipi and the majestic Vikos Gorge.

Our tour…

Taking in the breathtaking Byzantine monasteries Meteora for a day or two before moving on across the Pindos range to the western face of the mountain range where we will base ourselves in the beautiful traditional village of Monodendri staying in a lovely little boutique hotel.

From here we will explore various walks and hikes in and around the awesome Vikos Gorge whose butressed towers make it the deepest gorge in Europe and a truly stunning spectacle. We will also take in the the old stone arched bridges which linked the villages over the rivers before roads existed.

During the autumn trip you can expect beautiful autumn colours in the forests cloaking the mountains but note that the water levels on the rivers at this time of year may be low depending on how much rainfall we have had, on the Spring trip the forests are lush and green and the rivers usually full and fast flowing.

The Zagori area that we will be exploring is one of the last great European wildernesses where bears, wild boars, roe deer, jackals, wolves and even wild horses still roam free.

SAMPLE ITINERARY:

  • Day 1: arrivals & transfers from Thessaloniki Airport to Hotel;
  • Day2: AM: pre-dawn rise for 2/3 hour shoot from one of the lookout points above the Monasteries followed by breakfast in the village.
  • Day2: PM: 2 hour sunset shoot from the Roussanou Convent lookout.
  • Day3: AM: pre-dawn rise for 2/3 hour shoot from a different lookout over the monasteries
  • Day3: PM: transfer to our 2nd base in Monodendri by way of Aoos Lake
  • Day 4: Photography in the village of Monodendri & the stone arch bridges of Kipi
  • Day 5: Photography of the Vikos Gorge & Kolimbithres Canyon
  • Day 6: Hike & photography through the upper part of the Vikos canyon along the Voidomati river.
  • Day 7; Transfers to airport & flights home.

NOTE: itineraries are flexible and can be tailored to the wishes of the group

Whats Included..

  • all guiding, advice and assistance from our Photographic Tour Leader
  • all accommodations for the duration of your stay on a non-sharing basis with NO single supplement
  • breakfasts, lunches & refreshments whilst out shooting (lunches may be of the “packed” variety so that we don’t cut short trips into the mountains by having to return to the hotel or village to eat)…;
  • transportation : both to and from Thessaloniki airport as well as all “in-trip” transportation;

FITNESS: Mostly easy but we can undertake slightly longer walks depending on group fitness level.

What’s not included..

  • flights/visas
  • Insurance (recommended you have full health, medical, travel and equipment insurance);
  • activities not listed in the itinerary
  • evening meals
  • personal expenses – gratuities/tips, sundries, snacks etc..
  • all drinks: alcohol and special order drinks like cappuccinos,lattes etc..

Upcoming TOURS & workshops

Due to the pandemic I have been unable to run these trips for the last couple of years but hopefully 2023 will see us back on schedule again starting in the Autumn.. see below for details and sign up to my newsletter to be notified of future trips and events.

NOVEMBER 2024

AUTUMN : MOUNTAINS & MONASTERIES

10 day : Private Tour

Landscape/wildlife Photography tour

Mixed wildlife & landscape photography tour of North Western Greece taking in the iconic Byzantine Monasteries of Meteora and the mountains of the North & Western Pindos range as well as Kastoria & Prespes Lakes. Wildlife photographic oportunites to include White Throated Dipper, Bearded Reedling & Otters.

Wild

fully booked..

NOTE: dates may be subject to change according to airline flight schedules

€3000

(€300 deposit)

april 2025

SPRING : MOUNTAINS & MONASTERIES

7 day : April 2025 exact dates TBC

Landscape Photography Workshop

Photographing the iconic mountains & Byzantine monasteries of North western Greece

MAX: 5 PAX

NOTES: dates may be subject to change according to airline flight schedules

€2310

(€300 deposit)

NOVEMBER 2025

AUTUMN : MOUNTAINS & MONASTERIES

7 day : Nov 2025 exact dates TBC

Landscape Photography tour

Photographing the iconic mountains & Byzantine monasteries of North western Greece

Wild

MAX : 5 PAX

NOTE: dates may be subject to change according to airline flight schedules

€2310

(€300 deposit)

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To make a booking:

Fill out the form automated form below right, send us an email or telephone to check availability.

Once dates are confirmed, we’ll send you a booking form or you can download it in advance (below left) ..complete it, scan/photograph it and return by email to [email protected] …don’t forget to specify your preferred method of payment, either by Bank transfer or credit card via Paypal.

Once we have received your booking form we will send you an invoice either for the deposit or whole amount depending how far in advance you are booking. (Bookings within 12 weeks of the trip are paid in full)

Visas & Travel Permits: All our current trips are within the European Union.. please ensure you have the necessary travel documents & Visas necessary to visit any EU country before booking your tickets and your place on one of our trips. We cannot arrange these for you.