After a short stay in the foothills of Strogoula, we decided to move northern and visit one of our favourite mountainous destinations of Greece, Tymfi. Though, about a month ago, we have been again in Tymfi, from the side of Konitsa, this time we decided to visit Gyftokambos and the famous Sarakatsani huts.
Prior of arriving in Gyftokambos, we have got the info that in the area there is a lovely location to stay overnight and we certainly did not loose our chances to visit the area.
Gyftokambos is an area ιn the Zagori region, 58 km north of Ioannina. Its name is derived from the Greek “gyftos” , gypsy and “kambos” that means “field”, and could be rendered in English translation as “gypsy lea“. There used to be a hamlet called Nouka on this location which was also used by the Sarakatsani as pasture grounds. The area, located at the base of Mt Tymfi, has traditionally belonged to the village of Skamneli and it forms part of the municipality of Tymfi.
Until the early 20th century, the area was open and used as a grazing ground by the Sarakatsani . It has become gradually wooded by coniferous trees, including impressive Scots pines. Huts of Sarakatsani were in use until the 1990s. Today an open-air “museum” with typical Sarakatsani huts and animal enclosures has been built.
As soon we arrived in Gyftokambos, we could not miss the traditional Zagori style building that actually was the location where we would be staying overnight, the Free In Zagori.
The building of Free In Zagori, was previously a tavern/restaurant, but Akis –the current owner- transformed it into a lovely guest house. In fact, the day we had to stay overnight all available rooms were booked, but Akis did not mind that we set up our tent in the garden of Free In Zagori. Additionally, Free In Zagori offers an holistic approach to experience Tymfi and also provides excellent vegan delicacies.
The Greek Sarakatsans is a nomadic tribe that has its presence across mainland Greece but mostly found in Zagorochoria. It is known that by the middle of the 20th century followed the nomadic way of live, but today Sarakatsans have abandoned the nomadic life. A characteristic feature of Sarakatsans way of life is the huts where they lived.
The most prevalent theory of the origin of its name is that it has Turkish roots. However, it is supposed that lived in Greece from the Palaeolithic era while another theory says that they are descendants of the Dorians race that first arrived in Greece. Their place of establishment constituted the mount of Pindos. Those who moved to the area of Zagori, in the summer lived in the mountain Timfis, but in the winter Sarakatsans lived in different areas of Thesprotia prefecture.
The areas where they lived are called konakia and for the construction of their huts were using only wood and clay. At the location Gyftokampos, on the outskirts of Tymfi, it happens the PanHellenic Gathering of Sarakatsans with events and camping at the first weekend of August annually.
Gyftokambos and Sarakatsani Huts Location
Below: This map marks all the mountaineering adventures that have been featured on Olympus Mountaineering so far, including several Sport climbing crags – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.