Wednesday, June 19 2024

Varvara waterfalls: Miracle of nature in Halkidiki

Varvara waterfalls: Miracle of nature in Halkidiki

Deep in the Kipouristra forest of Halkidiki, northern Greece, the Varvara waterfalls, featuring two impressive waterfalls with some distance in between, emerge from the spectacular setting’s superb greenery, creating a fairytale-like setting. The location is a clearing of refreshing coolness and serenity.

Also known as the Aggelousis waterfalls, the two streams of cascading water that pound onto green rocks below with tremendous force end up at the Marvolakas river, a not-so-widely-known river that serves as a natural boundary for the villages Olympiada and Varvara.

Visitors will need to leave vehicles behind, slightly before the starting point of a lovely and accessible trail, to begin exploring this idyllic point in the Macedonia region. Look for a wooden kiosk to be encountered at the start and then cross over a small wooden bridge. From this point onwards, a path leads all the way to the waterfalls. The route, which is superb, features wild and pure vegetation spread as far as the eye can see.

At some point, a change of direction is needed, depending on which of the two waterfalls is to be approached. It is worth seeing both waterfalls to experience the reinvigorating qualities they offer.

Reach the location’s most elevated point and marvel at the water plunging with force, offering an impressive spectacle. Photo: Shutterstock
Two impressive waterfalls

First waterfall

Continue walking for about 10 minutes along the same path, a small trail that is relatively easy to cover. Just a few minor obstacles need to be cleared along the way. Make sure to be dressed in comfortable clothing with either sneakers or boots for footwear to minimise the chances of any accident. Reach the location’s most elevated point and marvel at the water plunging with force for an impressive spectacle. A clearing at the bottom of the waterfall is an ideal spot for a picnic with a breathtaking view. The location offers complete detachment from urban reality, including the vehicle you will have left behind just minutes earlier. There is no canteen or restaurant in the area so make sure to bring food, drinks and any other essentials from home.

The second waterfall

Visitors wanting to also reach the location’s second waterfall should expect a far tougher course. Once again, starting off from the parking space, head, this time, in the opposite direction to reach a spot where the water begins to flow. The waterfall is not visible from there, but its sound, mixed with the singing of birds and crickets, is audible. Explorers with climbing experience may keep going to get closer to the waterfall by heading straight ahead along a very challenging route by a cliff. This is definitely not an appropriate route for young children or any individuals lacking experience with challenging routes.

From a certain point along the trail, the waterfall is not visible, but its sound, mixed with the singing of birds and crickets, is audible.

An excursion such as this, deep into wild nature, may not offer multiple specific points of interest, but the natural setting, itself, is a unique attraction as well as a haven for beautiful small animals and hundreds of birds, including common blackbirds, goldfinches, chaffinches and wagtails.

The forest of linden, beech, laurel and hazel trees is also habitat for small and big foxes, badgers, small snakes and reptiles, turtles, as well as weasels. If travelling to this location with your children, the flora and fauna to be observed will surely offer them major delight.

How to get there

The waterfalls are easier to access from Olympiada, named after the mother of Alexander the Great. If you are located in Thessaloniki, the swiftest route to the waterfalls is via the Egnatia Odos highway, headed towards Kavala. Upon exiting the Egnatia Odos highway, take a turn towards Thessaloniki’s Stavros area. Then, carrying on, a lovely route with lots of bends in the road leads to Olympiada. Alternatively, the Thessaloniki-Kavala highway leads to Stavros, followed by Olympiada, via the village Agios Vassilios, featuring a Byzantine-era tower.

Continue along the Varvara-Olympiada forest road, one of the most beautiful road stretches to be experienced anywhere in the entire Halkidiki region. It runs through the well-known Pente Vryses area before heading downhill. Look for a related signpost to your left. A dirt road follows. This section may also be covered by regular vehicles, not just jeeps, with some care when driving. Some 2km further on, this road leads to signposts indicating the waterfall area. Park your vehicle here and continue the rest of the distance on foot.