Lake Zaravina

Lake «Zaravina» or «Nizeros» is a natural ornament which is surrounded by hills and it is located above the main road that connects Ioannina with Kakavia.

It is one of the country’s deepest natural lakes, almost 31.5 meters deep. Its shape is almost circular with a perimeter of 2.2 km and an area of 285 acres. It is an open-type karst lake that is supplied with water from surface and underground springs, but also with the waters that descend from the streams of Thiafolako, Voiditsa and Lakko Panagias.

Around the Lake Zaravina there are many marshes, surface springs and streams. Its birth dates back to the Pleistokaino Age and it is distinguished for its deep depth, in connection with its size, which reaches the 31.5 meters and for the shape of its bottom that resembles an inverted cone. It is ranked fifth in the series of the deepest natural lakes of our country after the Lakes Trichonida, Ziros, Vegoritida and Amvrakia. This depth has created a number of legends in the area’s folk tradition. The French diplomat and traveler Francois Pouqueville reports that the locals believed that Zaravina had no depth and sucked down anything that it was sailing on it.

Exploring the Lake Zaravina is a unique experience, as the blue waters in which the golden oak trees are mirrored and the richness of the wildlife make up a wonderful, lively landscape. Around the lake there are reed beds and wet meadows, while the hills are covered with dense oak forests which consist of four oak species, among which there are some centenarian. Other species are the Ostrya carpinifolia, the Carpinus betulus, the Fraxinus ornus, the maples and the blackberry bushes.

The most important plant in the area is the rare Solenanthus albanicus. Other remarkable plants are the lily Lilium candidum, the Colchicum autumnale, the Asphodeline taurica, the cyclamen Cyclamen hederifolium, the Digitalis grandiflora, the iris Iris sintenisii, the Lysimachia atropurpurea, the Silene coronaria, the crocus Crocus cancellatus, the Lysimachia punctata, the Ornithogalum sphaerocarpum, the Scabiosa tenuis, the Scutellaria rupestris, the Orlaya daucorlaya and the orchids Epipactis microphylla, Platanthera chlorantha, Ophrys helenae, O. hystera, O. zeusii and O. oestifera, while a few kilometers from the lake grows an extremely rare orchid , the Ophrys bertolonii.

A large number of predatory birds live to the lake. It is one of the last shelters of the Lesser Spotted Eagle and the rare Black Kite in Greece. In the past, at the surrounding area rare Egyptian vultures were living. Other predators are the short-toed snake eagle, the European honey buzzard, the common buzzard, the hen harrier, the western marsh harrier, the Eurasian sparrow-hawk, the Levant sparrow-hawk, the northern goshawk and the peregrine falcon. In the wet meadows of the lake there are white and black storks, while in the reed beds and on the shore of the lake, there are grey herons, great egrets, black-crowned night herons, squacco herons, little bitterns, pygmy cormorants, common kingfishers, Cetti’s warblers, water pipits, sedge warblers, great reed warblers, Savi’s warblers, etc.

The avifauna includes species such as swans, ferruginous ducks, Eurasian coots, moorhens, little grebes, great crested grebes, common snipes, alpine swifts, European jays, European nightjars, Eurasian siskins, middle spotted woodpeckers, red-backed shrikes, woodchat shrikes, European turtle doves, goldcrests, European bee-eaters, hawfinches, common cuckoos, common wood pigeons, red rumped swallows, subalpine warblers, Eurasian hoopoes and long-tailed tits.

Amphibians include many species, such as salamanders, smooth newts, Macedonian crested newts, common toads, green toads, European tree frogs, Epirus water frogs, stream frogs, etc. The reptile fauna is equally rich and consists of Hermann’s tortoises, spur-thighed tortoises, water tortoises, slow worms, European glass lizards, Dalmatian Algyroides, Balkan green lizards, Balkan wall lizards, smooth snakes, large whip snakes, four-lined snakes, Balkan whip snakes, Eastern Montpellier snakes, grass snakes, dice snakes, leopard snakes, Dahl’s whip snakes and nose-horned vipers.

Mammals that live in the lake are several coypus and a few Eurasian otters. Healthy populations of bears, wolves and deer live at the surrounding hills. Other mammals are the ferrets, the weasels, the wild boars, the wildcats, the badgers, the foxes, the edible dormouses and the squirrels.

The fish fauna of the lake includes 11 species, from which distinguish the eels (Anguilla Anguilla), the Peloponnesian barbel (Barbus peloponnesius), the carp (Cyprinus carpio), the common barbel (Luciobarbus albanicus), the West Balkan trout (Salmo farioides), the Epirus riffle dace (Telestes pleurobipunctatus) and the tench (Tinca tinca). The Lake Zaravina is considered to be one of the last places where the Epirus minnow (Pelasgus epiroticus), a fish on the verge of extinction, probably exists.

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