Epirus: the world’s deepest gorge, a landscape like Scotland’s and mountain villages to rival those of Provence
With increasingly shaky steps I edged closer to the cliff-face as the path ahead narrowed to a ledge and the first glimpse of the chasm I had travelled across Europe to see revealed itself through the pine trees. The path widened to accommodate a natural viewing platform and, placing a steadying hand on the stone wall forming a crescent around its perimeter, I peered over the edge into the toe-tingling depths of the Vikos Gorge and what is, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s deepest canyon.
The giddying drop ran sheer for more than 1,000ft – a depth easily capable of accommodating the full height of The Shard in London and then some – to a dry riverbed draped like a rocky ribbon across a valley floor carpeted in pine trees.
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Canyon purists question the claim that this is the world’s deepest: Guinness’s calculations are based on width-to-depth ratio (Vikos is almost 3,000ft at its deepest and a mere 10ft at its narrowest). But from my lofty perch high above the gorge there was no denying the natural beauty of this deeply humbling spot.
Travelling in late August to Epirus, a mountainous region in the far north-western corner of mainland Greece on the border with Albania, I had expected to find myself jostling for space at the gorge with other nature-loving souls. Instead, there to greet us in the near-empty car park at Oxia – a lookout point high in the Pindus Mountains, a short walk from the gorge – was a lone donkey keeping a watchful eye over a stall laden with jars of honey. The first 10 minutes at the gorge were then spent in the company of my snap-happy husband with no other sign of human life in sight. The blissful illusion of being alone in the world was broken only by the arrival of a sure-footed German couple on a walking tour of the gorge.