This summer, a small but unique and different beach of Epirus, which is located at 500 meters above sea level, broke every attendance record from Greek and foreign tourists.

We are referring to the unknown and inaccessible until a few years ago Lake Zaravina in Pogoni, Epirus.

From a distance, the dense oak forest looks ready to swallow the small blue lake, while it is difficult to distinguish paths, roads or tracks with the naked eye. From a geological point of view, the lake is a deep ravine that at some point in very prehistoric times was filled with water from the constantly melting glaciers.

Perhaps this explains the enormous depth of the small lake, which – even if it doesn’t seem like it – exceeds 30 meters, making it one of the deepest lakes in Greece.

For years, however, the unexplored lake remained inaccessible to the public due to a legal dispute unique to Greece. Since 1885, the lake has been considered private under an Ottoman deed that made the lake the estate of a well-known family from the area. Sometime in the 1980s, the residents of the area started an endless legal dispute, which ended almost 40 years later with the return of the lake to the Greek state. But how was it possible for a private person to own a lake?

The ownership of the lake was based for centuries on property titles that had been assigned by a Turkish pasha of the area and despite the annexation of Epirus to Greece in 1913 the lake remained private.

For years, the residents of the surrounding communities have been trying to find ways to “break” this strange ownership regime and give the lake to the Greek State, in order to facilitate and accelerate the development of the area. Thus, in 2011, after years of courts, lawsuits and appeals, Lake Zaravina passed into the ownership of the State and became public.

Lake Zaravina is 45 kilometers from Ioannina and only 14 kilometers from the Greek-Albanian border. Points of reference are the settlements of Zaravina and Sitaria, both at a distance of about 5 kilometers, while before visiting the area, it is good to have a look at the weather and prepare properly for a natural excursion.

The legends around the lake.

Naturally, the great depth of the lake with its gulches, sinkholes and swampy waters made the popular imagination run wild. The legends and lore surrounding the lake have been around for years.

They used to say that if you throw a jug in the lake you will see it in Ioannina.

Although it is a popular exaggeration, the legend may have a small basis, because Lake Zaravina also has several underground outflows that to this day scientists are not completely sure where they lead.

In fact, in 2011 scientists tried to study the bottom of the lake to see what exactly is going on under the seemingly calm waters of the hidden lake. Despite the initial enthusiasm, the dive was stopped due to the discovery of hydrogen sulphide, which created a suffocating and dark environment in the water.

Lake Zaravina today is one of the top destinations in Epirus and there are days when you literally cannot find a place to put your towel in order to enjoy one of the most special dives of your life.