Acheron. The entrance of the Greek underworld

Acheron river in Epirus Greece blue water white rocks green trees, the entrance of the Greek underworld

The clear-blue river of Acheron is located in the Epirus region of North-West Greece. It is a beautiful place with crystal clear turquoise water, surrounded by white cliffs and lush greenery. A natural paradise with a story that does not fit its current sight. The Acheron river is well known in Greek mythology as the entrance to the underworld. But why?

Location

The Acheron river flows in the Epirus region, in the North-West of Greece. Epirus is bound by Albania in the North and the Ionian sea in the West. This sea is where the water from Acherontas ends up, in the small fishing village of Ammoudia. The river’s source is near the village of Zotiko, in the southwestern part of Ioannina. The river has a length of 52 kilometers, 32 miles.

Acheron in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, the Acheron river is used by Charon. Charon is a god-like ferry operator. He used to carry the souls of the dead on his boat, over the Acheron river, to the underworld. Not for free off-course, ferries don’t sail for free, not even a god-ferry. Whoever was buried with a coin in his mouth was allowed on Charon’s ship to enter the world of the dead. For those less fortunate, one hundred years of wandering the shores of Archeron was the only way to get to the other side.

However, like with all Greek mythology, this is just one story. Other stories say Charon only took the dead who lived a bad life to Hell. Leaving the spirits of people who lived a good life on the shores. There is even a story saying an evil gnome was living in the waters of Acheron, turning it bitter and poisoned. What they all have in common is that the Acherontas river was dark, known as the river of woe or misery.

But why?

Mythology has always been a way of describing things that are not easy to explain or beyond our knowledge. The flow of the Acheron river is like this, indescribable. The ancient Greeks already knew that rivers flow towards the sea, and the sea flows around the land. Acheron, however, does not flow straight into the ocean. The river disappears underneath mountains and comes up in some places to (seem) flow(ing) away from the sea. Since the flow of the ocean, or the grand world-encircling river Oceanus, bounds the world of the living, Acheron must have had something to do with the dead.

Nature

Nowadays, the Acheron river is still a magical place. No longer because of the stories, but because of the natural beauty of this river. Clear turquoise water, surrounded by white gorges, waterfalls, ponds, and greenery. Acherontas is home to endangered species of fish, amphibians, and birds.

Activities

The best place to visit the Acheron river is in Glykí. Glykí means sweets and most probably received this name due to the sweet waters of Acheron. In Glkí, there are plenty of water activities, like rafting, kayaking, horse riding, paragliding, or rushing over the water on a zip line. The village also offers bars and taverns along the river’s shores.

East of Glykí starts a trail that takes you upstream through the river. It is free to enter but makes for a priceless experience. In the beginning, there will be a lot of tourists with you. Nevertheless, you should enter the river, adjust to the cold waters, and keep walking upstream.

You will reach a point where the water is much deeper. Many people will stop here and return to the village. But do not follow them. Be brave and jump in the cold water. You’re just 3 to 4 strokes away from paradise. Because after this test, you will find yourself surrounded by nature, in the most peaceful place.

Tips:

  • When you visit the Acheron river, don’t forget to bring some shoes or slippers that you can easily walk in the water with. The bottom of the river is made up of smaller and bigger pebbles that can be very slippery or sharp.
  • If you have young children, bring an inflatable boat or even an air mattress for them to float on when the water level gets too high.
  • The water of this river comes from the mountains around Ioannina. The amount of water inside the river depends on both the amount of snow and rain in winter as well as the time of the year you visit. I can recommend not to go too early in the summer but wait till the end of July or the beginning of August to visit. Since the water level will drop. But don’t wait too long, you want some water there in order to have a good experience.
  • Combine this trip with a visit to the Souli watermills for lunch, and/or with a longer stay in Parga. (Coming soon)
  • The trail through the river is not accessible for people in a wheelchair or who have difficulty walking. Do you still want to enjoy the waters of Acheron? Contact a rafting or kayak company, or simply enjoy a meal at the river’s shores.
  • Enjoy the nature and peace on your trip to Acheron, the entrance of the Greek underworld!

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