Messolonghi is the capital town of Aetolia-Acarnania in Western Greece, known for being the site of dramatic sieges during the War of Independence against the Ottoman empire and for the death of the philhellenic poet Lord Byron.
The town is dominated by vast salt water lagoons that are home to amazing bird concentrations, depending on the season and the weather. Flocks of pelicans and noisy flamingos being the focus for many photographers.
Situated between two lagoons and two rivers (Evinos and Acheloos) is a majestic wetland, every photographer’s and nature lovers paradise. Forming a back drop are the slopes of the Arakinthos mountain with the ruins of two very important ancient cities Calydon and Pleuron. Both participated in the two great ancient Greek sieges of the Argonauts and Trojans. Their impressive walls and ruins connect us with their glorious past and add to the dynamic of this unexplored dot on the map of Greece.
Messolonghi is famous for having the biggest sea salt production in the Balkans. From the salt-pans to the salt-mountains and the salt-marinated fish delicatessen, everything around salt is another source of inspiration and delight.
Due to the heroic resistance of the population and the subsequent massacre of its residents by the Ottoman forces, the town of Messolonghi received the honorary title of Hiera Polis (Sacred City). The “Exodus of its Guards” (The Sortie) on the night of April 10, 1826 is commemorated every year on Palm Sunday weekend.
The rich history of Messolonghi is something our tours will help you discover first hand from locals who are passionate about carrying their history forward. The more you get to know the story of the place, the better your photographs will be at telling it’s stories.
Whether you choose to come at Easter, the greatest celebration in Greece, for the unique panigyri (religious festival) of Agios Simeon or to pick olives in November, you will experience first hand a real taste of provincial and rural life and live like a local with us.
8 day tour
Apokria (carnival) is a parade with fancy dress costumes and banqueting. It represents the last time you can eat animal products before Lent and is a great chance for a big party to wake up from the cold and hibernation of winter.
Apokira is one of the biggest Karnavali in Europe. With plenty of photographic opportunities including; giant decorated floats, carts, papier mâché figures. The biggest one is the carnival king who will be burned at the end of the parade in a huge bonfire. The carnival king figure is often a representation of a political figure so your photos will also take on a satirical and photo journalistic flavour. When your creative juices give way to a hungry stomach there will be a chance to taste authentic hand-made delicacies at street food stalls and local tavernas.
What's included in the tour?
Bed and Breakfast
Daily local experiences
One evening meal
Tour guide for the entire tour.
What's NOT included in the tour?
Arrival at Location
Arrive in Athens to unwind and settle in. A chance to get to know each other and then a stroll around the picturesque centre of Athens taking in famous and photogenic areas such as; Plaka, Monastiraki and of course the Acropolis!
Dinner at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel followed by a stroll in Athens in a carnival atmosphere with confetti, paper serpentines, costumes and street entertainment.
After lunch our next stop will be the Rio-Antirrio bridge near Patras where we will take the boat across the Gulf of Corinth to photograph this incredible feat of engineering.
For dinner we will eat in Nafpaktos and continue our journey to Galaxidi where our hotel is located.
The 'Moutzouromata' at Galaxidi is a colourful chaotic celebration where people throw coloured wheat flour at each other. This festival marks the beginning of the Lent period of fasting in the Orthodox Church and is an opportunity for some fun before the introspection and detoxing begins.
It is really important to wear old clothes and have some plastic bags you can use to protect belongings, e.g. phones, cameras etc for 'Moutzouromata' as the wheat flour gets everywhere and can stain clothing.
Lunch on the way back which on 'Clean Monday' means a chance to sample some traditional fare such as; lagana (flat bread), taramosalata, chalva, olives and fresh delicious seafood which is allowed on 'Clean Monday', but no fish.
Arrive at the hotel in Messolonghi and settle in. A wander around town and then dinner.
In the morning we will be taking a boat trip to explore the lagoons that dominate the landscape and are such an integral part of life here. This is a chance to experience and photograph the incredibly diverse bird life that inhabits the area, and to see the lagoons from the perspective of the fishermen who have worked these waters for countless generations.
Back to Messolonghi for lunch.
In the afternoon we will be changing our mode of transport and rent bicycles to ride out to the island of Tourlida to visit the traditional wooden fishermen’s houses called pellades which stand on stilts above the surface of the water.
Day in the City
We take a drive along a beautiful scenic route that includes the archaeological site at Plevrona. On a hill on the northwest side of Messolonghi a big part of the 3-kilometre long walls of Ancient Plevrona are still kept in a very good condition, specifically, the New Ancient Plevrona also known as Castle of Kira Rini (Lady Rini). In this impressive archaeological site you will have the chance to see a huge, natural 6-metre tall stone tank, part of the market, the ancient road and a wonderful ancient theatre with the great panoramic views of the sea on the west of Messolonghi.
We will see the island of Aetoliko. This tiny land mass is one of the most densely populated areas of Greece with a maze of ramshackle streets and houses, with plenty of local life to explore.
Afterwards we’ll visit the salt flats or “alykes”. These are the largest salt-pans in operation in Greece. Salt has played a crucial role in the history of civilisation and in Greece. In fact, in ancient Greece it was used as a commodity for trading slaves. It is said that the time held expression of “not worth his salt” came from this practice. Also, in ancient times, most civilisations were accompanied by myths, religious and magic rites involving salt and Greece was no exception. With tales of its usage during sacrifices and religious rituals, the history of salt is as exotic as is the amazing alykes, or salt marsh gardens that extend for miles on end in Messolonghi, Greece.
After dinner there will be an opportunity to reflect on the day with your fellow travellers!
Drive to explore the landscape
A road trip to the traditional village of Katochi where we will admire the banks of the river Acheloos and then head into the wild and rugged landscape of Dioni in the far Western Greece. Stopping on the way to visit our friend Christos to get a glimpse into traditional life in a pellades complete with traditional Greek hospitality.
Morning to pack up, a leisurely lunch en route as we travel back to Athens
Goodbye dinner at the hotel and some free time in Athens for those that want to have a final wonder.
Leave with Memories
Final goodbyes and flights home.