Lake Plastira is the proof of how a reservoir can dramatically change the natural, social and economic landscape of an area. The dam that holds back the waters of Tavropos River was built in 1959 and was the product of the vision of a local politician, Nikolaos Plastiras, who was originally from the neighboring village of Morfovouni. The artificial lake was created on the old plateau of Nevropolis, at an altitude of about 700m, with the purpose of irrigating the plain of Karditsa, providing water to the city and also generating electricity.
Until the construction of the dam, the area, at the foot of the wild Agrafa Mountains, was rugged and inaccessible. Progressively in the last decades the roads connecting Agrafa with Karditsa were improved and the inhabitants of the villages engaged in tourism, realizing that the lake offered a great privilege to their area, attracting visitors. Pezoula, Neraida and Neohori are villages that have been developed and welcomed the first travelers.
Very few people still take the road to the imposing mountains of Agrafa, after Neohori; on the contrary, the lake draws plenty of people all year round. In autumn, fallen leaves are the main photo theme, in winter countless fireplaces spread the smell of burnt wood in the atmosphere, in spring nature blossoms while in summer, water activities are the main attraction.
Surrounded by fir trees, the lake is always there with its still waters, challenging those who visit it to practice silence and immerse themselves in the beauty of its landscapes.
EIGHT EXPERIENCES FOR RELAXATION AND WELLBEING
Cycling on water
The pontoons on which the water bike rests calmly, tear through the normally calm water of the lake, which ripples only when the wind blows. Cycling on the water is a very relaxing activity that will allow you to enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains from the lake. You won’t need to pedal hard, nor will you get particularly tired, since the bike moves easily and quickly with little effort. You can pedal around the small islands or approach the opposite shore. Water bikes, as well as canoes, kayaks, sups and electric bikes to cycle outside the lake, are available for rent by Tavropos Activities at Pezoula Beach. For information and reservations, please call at Tel. (+30) 6977.740.066 or visit their website.
Exploring the forest
Around the lake and beyond the paths that lead to the various peaks of Agrafa, there’s a dense network of paths that are ideal for moderate hikes through the forest. You will find nice paths in the forest around the village of Mpelokomitis, to and from the mountain refuge of Agrafa, in the ravine above the village of Anthohori but also between the settlements above the lake. In September 2020, Cyclone Ianos caused a lot of damage in the area and has affected many routes, so before you start you should better consult the locals. You can also get information at the Karditsa Mountaineering Association (Tel. (+30) 6973.695.595, eoskarditsas.gr), which takes care of the maintenance of several paths.
The ideal Asana
Strength, balance, concentration. Yoga is known to have many benefits for the body and mind, one of the first being stress reduction and relaxation. When practiced in outdoor spaces, ideally, such as the meadows of Lake Plastiras, it is a unique experience. Two-day yoga retreats are often organized next to and around the lake but also in the forest or other outdoor areas. Elmina Roditi, professor of Physical Education and PhD candidate at the University of Thessaly, who works as a yoga and acro yoga teacher in Trikala, organizes three-day yoga workshops at the lake (Tel. (+30) 6972.648.610). Yoga classes are also frequently hosted at the Montanema Handmade Village Guesthouse, (Tel. (+30) 24450.452.20).
You may be afraid to ride or feel nervous at first, but you’ll soon feel comfortable in the saddle once you’ve established your bond with one of the fifteen horses at Zampetas Farm (Tel. (+30) 24410.928.55, www.lakeplastira.gr). The owner Sofia Zampeta, who explained to us that riding is safe even for three-year-old children, will help you with this. You will take a long ride in the meadows by the lake, hearing only the soft sound of the horse’s hooves against the ground and enjoying the view from above.
With the power of plants
Gardening is quite relaxing, as is a walk in a well-tended garden. In Neohori Botanical Garden (Fteri area, Tel. (+30) 6946.476.683), you will have the opportunity to browse among a variety of flora (herbs, bushes, trees, etc.), see the artificial wetland and get to know the indigenous medicinal and ornamental plants. The garden is open daily except Tuesday from 10:00 to 15:00 and on weekends until 16:00, and entrance is free.
Sometimes, the most enjoyable and relaxing thing is to do absolutely nothing ‒ and Lake Plastiras is the ideal place to do that. Especially in the two places we recommend you visit, your mind will empty of all your thoughts. Drive up to the dam, pass by it and take the first dirt road you see on your right. You will get above the dam, with a view both to its front and rear side. Stop and enjoy the view of the lake’s waters and the towering structure that holds them. Alternatively, follow the signs leading to Lake Plastiras’ Observatory that you will find a little earlier. Driving through a dense fir forest, you will reach the stone gazebo, where from the view of the lake is spectacular. Sit in silence and enjoy the scenery and the quiet.
Stop at the refuge
The stone-built mountain refuge of Agrafa (Tel. (+30) 6988.586.292) was built in 2002, in a unique location, on the slopes of Mount Voutsikaki and at an altitude of 1,536m. The dense fir forest expands all around you and you can explore it by walking its marked paths. Sit in front of the large fireplace, enjoy well-made coffee and let Vlasis and Irini, who run the lodge, share their knowledge on the area with you. The menu includes traditional dishes, such as spetzofai (sausages and peppers cooked in tomato sauce), stir fried pork and pasta, but also more refined dishes, such as sweet potato soup and vegan lentil burger. The route from the lake to the refuge is also interesting and on your way there, you might see horses, cows, bulls and even wild boars that live in the area.
A sanctuary with a view
The Monastery of Pelekiti (Tel. (+30) 24410.947.47) seems to hang from the steep slope of Agrafa, a little above the village of Karitsa, at a distance of 14km from Neohori. Full of natural domes, it was carved with wooden tools on the rock and is believed to have been built in the 15th century. You will come here for the wonderful view of the lake and the forest, but also the absolute tranquility that this place inspires.