Brown bear tracking in Northern Greece

“Greece has hundreds of brown bears, and walking the trails of the remote Northern Pindos region with an experienced ranger is the best way to encounter them.”

Highlights

Bear tracking with a ranger in wilderness region of Northern Pindos | Wolves | European otters | Red deer | Presentation on wildlife conservation & research methods | Grammos Mountain

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Brown bear tracking in Northern Greece

Environment

This trip is all about the concept "Tourism as a Tool for Nature Conservation", a concept we believe in with all our heart. The following principles and practices show that:

• Wildlife species are not harvested, consumed, displayed, sold, or traded, except as part of a regulated activity that ensures that their utilization is sustainable, and in compliance with local to international laws.
• No captive wildlife is held, except for properly regulated activities, in compliance with local to international law. Living specimens of protected and wildlife species are only kept by those authorized and suitably equipped to house and care for them humanely.
• The trip supports and contributes to biodiversity conservation, including natural protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value. You make a donation to wildlife charity Callisto. They use it to support their Bear Emergency Team. A vet and assistant travel to places where they are needed, e.g. road accident with a bear involved, damage done by bears.
• Interactions with wildlife, taking into account cumulative impacts, do not produce adverse effects on the viability and behaviour of populations in the wild. Any disturbance of natural ecosystems is minimized, rehabilitated, and there is a compensatory contribution to conservation management!
• Information about and interpretation of the natural surroundings is provided to travelers, as well as explaining appropriate behaviour while visiting natural areas.

Community

The trip is all about supporting the local economy. It will benefit financially much more local communities as opposed to booking via the "traditional sales channel" = a Tour Operator that is located in your country and that will send a tour leader from your country. Furthermore it supports local culture and communities in the following ways:

• Information about and interpretation of the local culture, and cultural heritage is provided to travelers.
• Local services and goods are purchased and offered, following fair-trade principles.
• Supporting local small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history and culture (including food and beverages, crafts, performance arts, agricultural products, etc.).
• Purchasing policies favour locally appropriate and ecologically sustainable products, including building materials, capital goods, food, beverages and consumables.
• Transportation methods in Greece are limited to group transportation with small buses and hiking.
• The accommodation used on this trip are family-owned and family-run. This is an area in Greece that has been hit hard by the economic crisis and your visit has a positive impact on the local economy.

4 Reviews of Brown bear tracking in Northern Greece

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 19 Oct 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Trekking in the mountains with amazing view, excitement of being near the wildlife and the guide who did everything that we had a great time.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't focus on the bears only, just enjoy the nature.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


All was perfect, I really had a great time. The guide did a great job.

Reviewed on 29 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking in the mountains, and seeing tracks of bears and other animals. Also, staying in the interesting locations of Kastoria and Nestorio.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't forget to look at the stars when you're staying in the mountains. The dark skies and thin, dry air provide a spectacular view.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we stayed in locally owned accommodation and the vacation included a donation to the Callisto bear charity.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We had a wonderful time walking in the mountains, even though we didn't see a bear. Our guide gave us a good understanding of the environment. We got on well with the other members of the group.

Read the operator's response here:

We thank you very much for your sparkling review, for supporting local communities and for your donation to nature conservation! We hope to see you again in Greece. Warm greetings!

Reviewed on 26 Oct 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It did not have one single highlight -the entire trip was enjoyable. Low-key, NOT exciting which is exactly what we wanted. We learned so much about the gorgeous mountains of NW Macedonia -- saw NO wildlife to speak of but learned about the flora and fauna in general. The guides were very well informed and brought an appreciation of the outdoors and nature to us that was contagious.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Expect a low-key guided walk/hike, don't 'expect' bears! A walking stick is helpful, as are binoculars.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes in that we ate and slept locally -- and it gave us new insights into human/wildlife interactions (for better or worse).
More time with locals -- perhaps a meal in a home (although Gramos Lodge was almost like eating in someone's home!) -- would be a nice opportunity. The presentation and demonstration were interesting and very informative.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it -- it was just relaxed enough, not commercial -- yet still thoughtfully and professionally planned and executed.
The landscape and life of northern Greece were so beautiful and interesting to learn about -- so happy we extended our trip to include Naousa and Vergina and days in Thessaloniki, also.

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks very much for the review!
We have further improved this tour: we place infra-red camera’s to catch wildlife on camera, we may do “howling sessions” with wolves and telemetry tracking of bears. Nevertheless chances to see bears fluctuate (depending on seasons and local conditions) while we refuse to use bait as this is not very responsible behavior.

Reviewed on 17 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing a brown bear was the highlight of the vacation but this was definitely the icing on the cake. The friendly people, wonderful mountain scenery, incredible views, amazing walks, butterflies, orchids and peace and quiet made the vacation memorable at all times.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared to do plenty of walking over rough and rocky ground, possibly in high temperatures. Enjoy the local people, food, culture and scenery as much as possible. Don't expect to find bears, just treat it as highlight if you do.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes we supported conservation by making a donation to the Callisto charity and by raising their profile. In the mountains we benefited local people by staying in their hotels and using their restaurants and guiding services.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was a wonderful experience being able to enjoy the natural wonders of northern Greece and the hospitality of the Greek people. Understanding the interaction between bears & humans and the work being done by Callisto to improve relations was fascinating and heartwarming.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you so much for your valuable feedback. You were indeed lucky to have seen bears on 2 days! The walks during this trips are as long as the travelers want. We are flexible and adapt the program as to make sure everyone is happy!

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