3 June 2024.

 

Planning a visit to the enchanting Papingo Rock Pools? This guide covers everything you need to know. 

Nestled beneath the Towers of Astraka in a pocket of lush forest, the Papingo Rock Pools make for a short, adventurous little walk that will have you scrambling over rocks and crossing the ankle-bitingly cold river as you navigate between natural turquoise pools and small cascades to the enchanting scene that awaits at the far end of the gully.

The definition of short and sweet, this trail makes a wonderful addition for those visiting the area to hike any of the spectacular longer trails on offer, such as Drakolimni or Vikos Gorge, and is easily accessible along the main road that links the Papingo villages.

Here’s everything you need to know to visit the lovely Papingo Rock Pools.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.
How To Get To Papingo Rock Pools

The Papingo Rock Pools are located along the Kalpakiou-Papigkou Road between Megalo Papingo and Mikro Papingo, 1.3 kilometres from the main parking area in the centre of Megalo Papingo.

The road originates back in Aristi where you’ll need to turn off into the valley, cross the stunning Voidomatis River and then climb back up the famous Aristi – Papingo switchbacks that climb into the mountains. The road is paved the entire way except for a short cobbled section in Megalo Papingo.

There’s a large gravel parking area on the right hand side of the road (located here) as you approach the pools where you can leave your car. Cross over the small bridge on foot to reach the signposted trailhead on the left hand side of the road.

FIND YOUR RENTAL CAR  //  There is next to no public transport in the region so you’ll definitely need your own car to reach the Papingo Rock Pools, as well as the many small villages, bridge and hikes nearby. Compare the best rates for rental cars here.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.
papingo rock rools. zagori greece.
Where To Stay In Papingo

Papingo, which itself has various versions of spelling, is separated into two villages – Megalo and Mikro, large and small – which are located 2 kilometres apart.

Both have a phenomenal setting nestled beneath the Towers of Astaka and are among the most charming in Zagori where you’ll find a tangle of cobbled laneways, stonework draped in fuchsia bougainvillea and grape vines and some of the warmest hospitality you’ll find anywhere in the Greece.

They were easily among my favourite Zagori villages and I’d highly recommend spending at least one night here to enjoy the tranquility of the mountains, the spectacular setting and the many nearby hiking trails which beg to be explored.

Both villages have a parking area as you arrive in town where visitors are often advised to leave their vehicles rather than attempting to navigate and park in the tight and winding cobbles streets and it’s worth considering this when choosing your accommodation.

There’s a large parking area as you arrive to Megalo, while parking in Mikro is much more limited with a small parking area behind the Taxiarchon Church and some street parking on the main fork as you enter the village.

mikro papingo. drakolimni hike. dragon lake of tymfi. zagori greece.

I stayed in Megalo which has a few more options for both accommodation and dining.  Below are a few of my recommendations for the nearby accommodation.

Agriogido – Rupicapra Villas  |  Set beside the main parking area in Papingo Megalo, this small, traditional guesthouse offers spacious, well-equipped rooms with beautiful views of the Towers that rise up across the valley. Great location for exploring the area and the lovely host runs the cafe on site. Check rates and availability here.

Papaevangelou Hotel  |  Tucked in a small cobbled laneway in Papingo Megalo, this top-rated hotel offers charming rooms with natural wood detailing throughout and one of the best views you’ll find in town. Check rates and availability here.

Pinocchio Mikro Papigo  |  This traditional guesthouse offers small, cosy rooms with some lovely touches spaced around a central courtyard that houses a cafe. The terrace views are wonderful, but there may be some noise when the cafe gets busy. Check rates and availability here.

Mikro Papigo 1700  |  For those after a touch more comfort in the mountains, this boutique hotel offers luxe rooms and access to their full-service spa and in house restaurant which overlooks the sweeping valley. Check rates and availability here.

Papingo Rock Pools Details

Distance   |   500 metres return

Duration   |   30 minutes

Difficulty   |   Easy

Trailhead   |   Park here

Visiting Papingo Rock Pools

Fed by the Rogovo River, the Papingo Rock Pools trail takes you alongside (and through) a series of small cascades that collect in natural turquoise pools that, in the sunlight, almost emit the same radiant blue you’ll see along the Voidomatis River. Given the trail covers such a short distance, be sure to take your time to enjoy the pretty river scenes along the way.

Starting along a manicured cobbled path, the official trail only lasts for about 70 metres or so before you pretty much need to go off book so prepare to get you feet wet and your hands little muddy.

About 30 metres in you’ll arrive at the rock platform and be welcomed by a small cascade and the first of many rock pools. Stick on the right side of the river here and step over the small stone wall to reach the rock platform beyond.

From here the fun really begins.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

Stick to the right until you reach the end of this first rock platform where you’ll need to cross over the river. This is the first of five river crossings so I’d suggest just taking your shoes off here and continuing barefoot rather than attempting to keep your feet dry any longer.

I was the only person at the pools during my visit so I ended up just leaving my shoes on the rock and collecting them on the way back. The rock platform is smooth and easy to cover under foot, however the rocks in the river can be rather slippery.

Continue onwards along the left side of the river, following the wave like pattern of the rocks where the ravine begins to narrow and small trees sprout from the rocky cliffs.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

Walk almost as far as you can on this side until you reach the next set of cascades and a large pool where you’ll need to cross back over to the right for a while.

A short way along, the rock platform runs out and you’ll arrive at a another small waterfall with two rocks balanced in the river below.

While it looks like some people attempt to cross here, I found the rocks here incredibly slippery and unstable, so instead I’d suggest backtracking slightly and following the small trail through the forest that goes up and over the rocks on the right and down the other side to rejoin the platform beside the river which is far easier, if a little muddy.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

This is the only slightly more challenging section to cover barefoot as the rocks are a little more spiky and you’re likely to pick up some mud. You could put your shoes back on but it is manageable barefoot as well.

When the rock platform runs out again, it’s time to cross over to the left again for the final time.

Here you’ll enter the prettiest section of the gully where moss clings to the narrow cliffs, ivy hangs from the stepped rocks and verdant foliage is draped across the upper story.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

Entering this final stretch between the small cliffs, cross back over onto the right and scuttle along the rocks until the final bend where you’ll hear the falls drumming nearby. By this point you’ll essentially run out of rock so there’s nothing for it but to just walk through the river around the corner to get a glimpse of the final waterfall.

The water is icy, like foot numbing, ankle tingling in seconds kind of cold, but this magical scene that marks the end of this fun little river walk along the Papingo Rock Pools is well worth it.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.
papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

For the way back, I was constantly missing the right place to cross over the river and had to back track a few times so be sure to keep an eye out. The dodgy stepping stones that fall beneath the cascade are a good indicator you need to backtrack and cross over the smaller stream in order to reach the section where you can clamber over the rocks through the trees.

Back at your car, I’d also recommend adding a short detour to the nearby Loli or Lakkou Bridge which arches over the Rugova River, the same stream that feeds the Papingo Pools. There’s a small parking area just 300 m away if you travel back towards Megalo Papingo and from there it’s an easy 150 m walk downhill along a cobblestone path to the bridge.

loli or lakkou bridge. papingo zagori greece.
Things To Know For Visiting Paping Pools

You’ll get your feet wet

 

With five river crossings along this short trail, you’ll certainly be getting your feet wet at Papingo Rock Pools.

I’d suggest either wearing shoes with good grip that you don’t mind getting wet and a little muddy or shoes that can easily slip off allowing you to go barefoot from the first crossing. During my visit, the water was never more than ankle deep. 

The water is ankle-bitingly cold so be prepared with a towel and warm socks for after the hike, particularly if you’re visiting in the colder months when the sun may be less effective at warming your iced feet up afterwards.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.
papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

The crossings can be slippery

 

While the dry rock platforms are pretty solid, most of the river crossings mean navigating smooth, slippery rock in shallow water. Most are no more than two or three steps across, often just slightly too far for one big leap across, so slow, careful steps are best to avoid slipping in the pools entirely.

There are some larger rocks that have been placed in the river in some sections, seemingly to be used as stepping stones, however I tested many of these and they were so unstable and also often slipped on the smooth river bed so I’d really suggest avoiding these altogether.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

It’s suitable for families

 

I visited Papingo Rock Pools twice during my stay, the first time on my way back from Dragon Lake when it started pouring with rain and I decided to abandon the walk, and again the following morning when the weather had cleared up and I had the place to myself.

During that first visit though, there were plenty of families with small kids doing the walk and they all looked to be having a great time splashing through the river and clambering over the rocks.

Despite the slippery sections, there’s plenty of fun to be had for the little ones.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

Don’t miss the many other lovely walks in the area

 

While Zagori as a whole is a paradise for walkers, Papingo’s spectacular location mean there are plenty of walks, long and short, that pass through these remote mountain villages. In season, Papingo also acts as the gateway to the spectacular Tymfi mountain range where keen hikers will find enough high alpine trails to keep them occupied for days.

As well as the beautiful hike up to Dragon Lake and the famous trail through Vikos Gorge and the Voidomatis Springs, there are also shorter trails leading to monasteries and natural springs in the mountains behind the villages. You’ll find information panels around town with suggestions of other local paces to visit.

papingo rock rools. zagori greece.

* This post includes affiliate links and any purchases made through these links will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. *

Plan Your Trip To Greece With These Guides

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Just making sure you're human... * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.