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την Τετάρτη 15/01/2020

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Wetlands of International Importance


 Nestos/The Straits/The Delta/Vistonida Lake

 Μαιανδρισμοί ποταμού Νέστου

The Prefecture of Xanthi is a land endowed with a unique natural beauty and exceptional biodiversity. Its landscape includes some of the very few unspoilt regions left in Europe. The intense mountainous relief, the endless coastline, the life at Nestos and the wetlands of Vistonida lake create a wonderful variety of globally significant habitats, making this region an ideal wildlife refuge.

The Straits of river NestosΠοταμός Νέστος

Nestos continues to be the pride of north-eastern Greece for its ecological value and its rare and beautiful natural environment.

The forest-aquatic ecosystem of Nestos river is of international importance and a national park, that is protected by the Ramsar Treaty and included in the Natura 2000 network.

The length of the river that flows through Greece is 140 km, and constitutes an invaluable source of life for the region.

 Τέμπη Νέστου

”The Nestos Straits” is a 17-km stretch of river from Stavroupolis to Toxotes, which has been characterized as an Aesthetic Forest according to the Presidential Decree of 1977, and enjoys a special protection status. The Straits of Nestos are a location of incomparable natural beauty and a refuge to a large number of local animal species, including several rare species. The steep, rocky but also verdant slopes of the Straits are truly a majestic and impressive sight, which astounds visitors.

 One can experience the grandeur of nature, either crossing the Straits by river with a canoe or setting off on foot along the path from Galani, and following one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Greece. Forest recreation areas, accommodation, cafés and good food in the local villages serve to complete the visitors’ appreciation of Thracian tradition and hospitality.Ποταμός Νέστος

 Ποταμός ΝέστοςThe natural splendor of the Straits covers an area of 2,300 ha, and is home to approximately 500 species of flora and 213 species of fauna. A large number of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, many of which are rare, threatened species, can also be found there.


The Delta of Nestos river

 The Nestos Delta covers a large area in the southern part of the Prefectures of Kavala and Xanthi. The sediments deposited by Nestos at its estuary and the sea currents that prevail in this area have created the small lagoons of Vassora, Erateinos, Agiasma, Kokala, Keramoti and Monastiraki – all located at the western part of the Delta covering a total area of 1,600 ha (Kavala Pref.). In the eastern part of the Delta (Xanthi Pref.) there are extensive sand dunes and periodic wetlands.

 Νέστος 4Χ4The variety of wildlife is extensive – although the only aquatic forest in Europe was cleared at the river Delta in 1953, the famous Great Forest (Kotza Orman). Various mammals shelter there, such as wild boar, wolves, jackals, otters, badgers, foxes, weasels and sables. This area is also renowned for its avifauna, since 254 species of birds have been recorded at the Nestos Delta. These include globally rare species that are under threat, such as the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), the Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca), the Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis), the Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), and the Kestrel (Falco naumanni).

The region is a unique location for research, observation and information regarding the functioning of natural aquatic ecosystems, and the structures and principles on which it is based. Projects, such as the establishment and operation of Information Centres for the Riparian Forest of Nestos, the creation of hiking trails, the reclamation of indigenous vegetation, the re-saturation of certain areas outside the riverbed, as well as the continued protection of the ecosystem, only constitute some of the initial efforts being made to study, conserve and restore this priceless natural aquatic ecosystem.

How to get to the Nestos Delta:

You can get to the Delta both from the east (Xanthi Prefecture – Erasmio area) and from the west (Keramoti area). If you come by bus, we recommend approaching the Delta from Keramoti area – with an intermediate stop at the riparian Forest of Nestos. For information: Nestos Delta Information Centre (Keramoti), tel. 25910 51831, Nestos Riparian Forest Information Centre, tel. 29462 74646.

Vistonida Lake

Λίνη ΒιστωνίδαVisitors to the Prefecture of Xanthi should not miss the opportunity to visit Vistonida lake with its canals that join it to the sea, the dense reedbeds surrounding the lake and the small Deltas created by the rivers that flow into it. This area of natural beauty is complemented by the lagoons of Lafri, Lafrouda, Alyki, Elos and the lagoon of Λίνη ΒιστωνίδαPorto Lagos, where we find the small churches of Agios Nikolaos (St Nicolas) and Panagia Pantanessi built on islets. It is believed that Vistonida Lake was created 5,000,000 years ago approximately, and was named after the Vistones, a Thracian race that lived in that region.

Λίνη ΒιστωνίδαIt is the largest lake in Thrace, covering an area of 4,200 ha, and comprises one of the main aquatic receptors of the Rodopi mountain range. Why does it contain saline waters? There are three connecting channels near Porto Lagos that see to that. The saline water is the reason for the diverse environmental conditions in the area that attract a wide range of fauna species, but also encourage the growth of various types of flora. It provides a welcome stop for migratory birds that are passing over Greece, a breeding area for others, and a winter refuge for 422 bird species.

Λίνη Βιστωνίδα - Άγιος ΝικόλαοςHow to get to Vistonida Lake:

It is possible to cross Vistonida lagoon while travelling from Xanthi to Komotini. Serpentine bays, channels, saline marshes, dense reedbeds and the picturesque church of Agios Nikolas, built on a small island in the lake, offer images of a serene world, stretching just a few meters from the tarmac of the national road. The distance from Xanthi is 26 km and the time needed to get there is no more than 25 minutes. For information: Porto Lagos Information Centre, tel. 25410 96646.