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την Τετάρτη 15/01/2020

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Day 3: Nestos Straits – Aquatic Forest – Nestos Delta


Τέμπη Ποταμού ΝέστουWe leave behind the town of Xanthi and follow the Xanthi-Kavala National Road towards the Nestos Straits, located at a distance of 15 km. The path at the Nestos Straits is 6-7 km long and leads to Kromnikos spring. There you can enjoy the allure of river Nestos, by taking part in the alternative tourism activities offered by numerous local agencies, such as canoeing-kayaking,Ποταμός Νέστος horse-riding, horse-drawn carriages, mountain biking, 4x4, parapente, flying fox and hiking, and boost your adrenaline levels! After the Nestos Straits, weather permitting, we continue to Imera where we can admire the unique sight of the meandering patterns of Nestos river.

Another option is to follow this route by train; it sets off from the railway station in Toxotes heading for Stavroupolis and crosses all the Nestos Straits. This is a route that should not be missed by any visitors, along with a meal at the local picturesque tavernas which blend subtly with the lush green environment.

Nestos river in brief
Nestos river has a total length of 234 km and begins from the area of the Rila monastery in Bulgaria. After flowing for 100 km through Bulgaria, it enters Greece via the Prefecture of Drama and flows into the Thracian sea. Μαιανδρισμοί ΝέστουThere are two active hydroelectric dams along its route in Greece, the dam in Thisavros and the one in Platanovrysi. The part of the river between the villages of Stavroupolis, and up to Toxotes, where the river also forms the natural boundary of the Prefectures of Xanthi and Kavala, is notably the most important area as regards its natural beauty. For this reason, it has been declared an aesthetic forest since 1979, covering an area of approximately 3,000 ha, which was trebled in size in 1992. This is the scenery through which the railway line has passed for over 100 years, joining together Thrace and the rest of Greece. There are thirty bridges that were constructed by Ποταμός ΝέστοςFrench engineers around the end of the 19th century during the Ottoman Empire, for the Thessaloniki-Constantinople train to pass through, the famous ORIENT EXPRESS.


Almost alongside the railway line, there is a well-marked path that attracts walkers and connects the villages of Toxotes and Stavroupolis.

From the viewing point located above Toxotes village towards Imera (11km of asphalt road) one can enjoy the allure of the meandering river Nestos, which was created by the son of Okeanos and Tythia according to the myth, when he was trying to find his way among the wild slopes of the mountains. Another activity available to visitors is a morning ride by train from Toxotes station to Stavroupolis station, and then back to Toxotes, which offers the possibility to see the Nestos Straits, also known as the ‘Tempi Valley of Thrace’, from a different perspective.
The Nestos Delta

The Nestos Delta occupies a large area in the southern part of the prefectures of Kavala and Xanthi. To the east (Xanthi Pref.), the Delta is dominated by large expanses of sand dunes and periodic wetlands. There is abundant wildlife and in the remaining part of the famous Kotza Orman (Great or Legendary Forest), which is the only aquatic forest in Europe,Ιππασία στο Νέστοthere are large mammals, such as wild boar, wolves, jackals, otters, badgers, foxes, weasels and sables. This area is also very important as regards its winged inhabitants. At the Nestos Delta, 254 bird species have been recorded, which include rare and globally threatened species, such as the Dalmatian Pelican, the Ferruginous Duck, the Red-breasted Goose, the Slender-billed Curlew, the Greater Spotted Eagle, the Imperial Eagle and the Kestrel. The Nestos Delta is the most important breeding ground in Greece for the Spur-winged Plover and the only area in Europe which is a natural habitat for the Common Pheasant.
You can also visit the area by horse, horse-drawn carriage and bicyle through various tourist agencies in Xanthi, that are active in this region. If you choose the bus, you can get to this area via Keramoti.

How to get to Nestos river
You can get to the area of Nestos (Toxotes-Galani village) by all means of transport: if you arrive at Chrysoupolis airport, then it is a 35-minute drive (approximately 30 km), while from Alexandroupolis airport, it is an hour’s drive (120 km). By road from Thessaloniki, you will need about 3 hours (200 km) and from Alexandroupolis you will need 1 hour (120 km). By train from Thessaloniki, the journey is about 4 hours and 15 minutes with the slow train, and 30 minutes less with the INTERCITY (ΟSΕ-Hellenic Railways Organisation-Athens: 210 82377411, OSE Thessaloniki: 2310 517517, OSE Xanthi: 25410 77977). From Alexandroupolis, the slow train takes about 2 hours, and the INTERCITY 30 minutes less.

Local delicacies

Since this area was mainly inhabited by refugees from the region of Pontus, the main dishes and pies served come from the Pontian cuisine.

ΠList of activities
The activities organized for tourists in the region of Xanthi Prefecture cover a wide variety: several involve the descent of river Nestos with canoes-kayaks, but there is also horse-riding, archery, horse-drawn carriages, hiking, mountain biking and 4x4 driving. Visitors can either opt to join one or a combination of the above-mentioned activities.