Lake Kerkini: A Greek Wonderland

Basic Information

Coordinates: 4113'N 02308'E
Elevation: 31 - 38 m
Area: 10,996 ha (the lake is 17 km long and 5 km wide at its widest)
Catchment Area: 17,000 km2 (River Strymon) +
Location: Macedonia, Northern Greece
On the River Strymon,
47 kilometres from the Bulgarian Border,
1 hours drive from Thessaloniki Airport, if the traffic isn't too bad.
Access:- The lake is easily reached from the Airport at Thessaloniki, follow the signs for Serres (one left turn once you are out of the city), then 75 km from Thessaloniki, as you are coming down out of the low mountains, take a left turn, sign posted to the lake and to Lithotopos. This road will take you to Lithotopos, from here you can turn left or right to drive around the lake. The road to the left is more scenic and runs closer to the lake. See Map and Birding Lake Kerkini

Conservation Information: Currently Lake Kerkini and its surrounds are:-
1) A National Nature Reserve.
2) A Wetland of International Importance according to the RAMSAR Convention, one of 10 in Greece.
3) The lake is considered a SPA (Special Protection Area)
4) According to EU directive 79/409/EEC the lake is included in the Greek national list Natura2000.
5) Almost every species found on lake Kerkini is covered by annexes I and II of the Bern Convention.
6) Many of the migratory species that occur on the lake are also covered by the Bonn convention.
Controlling Body: Management Authority of Kerkini Wetland
Information Centres:
1)The Kerkini Wetland Information Centre:- Kerkini Village (Near the village Square)
2)Lake Kerkini Centre for Ecotourism:- Lithotopos Village (On the road that leads to Hotel Erodios)
1)Hotel Erodios:-Situated in Lithotopos, suitable for groups, 55 beds. Tel:- Greece 23250 28070
2)Hotel Oikoperiigitis:- Situated in Kerkini, 86 beds Tel:- Greece 23270 41450
3)Hotel Viglatoras:- Situated in Ano Paroia, 11 beds Tel:- Greece 23270 51231
4)Hotel Zidoron:- Situated in Mandraki, 11 beds Tel:- Greece 23230 71106
 Car Hire This is best done at the Thessaloniki Airport, although there are car hire companies in the nearby city of Serres finding them would be less simple than using those available at the airport. A 4X4 would be by far your best option, although obviously it is more expensive..
Bird List: Currently 300. 100-bird days are well on the cards. Complete List and Birding Lake Kerkini
Butterfly List: Currently 123, but you will need to climb into the mountains. Complete List
Orchid List: Currently 16 (I think we must have missed some). Complete Plant List
Description: Lake Kerkini is an artificial reservoir that was created in 1932, and then redeveloped in 1980, on the site of what was previously an extremely extensive marshland.

Lake Kerkini is now one of, if not the, premier birding site in Greece, and, as it is situated along the migratory flyway for migratory birds en route to the Aegean Sea, the Balkan region, the Black Sea, the Hungarian steppes and beyond it experiences an interesting migration.

It is also a major over wintering site for a huge number of birds including the internationally threatened Dalmation Pelican (Pelicanus cripus) and Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacocorax pygmaeus). Besides this it is the only site in Greece where you can experience a 12 species mixed breeding colony during the spring and early summer and recently the only new breeding site for the Dalmation Pelican recorded in the last 50 years. More Info.
Although I found Lake Kerkini because of it excellent birding, I have stayed because it is an extremely beautiful area. With two mountain ranges to walk in and the nearby Rupell Gorge (the river valley whereby the Strymon River escapes from Bulgaria) as well as the many varied habitats associated with the wetland itself (Lake, River, Canals and Marshes) there is no shortage of places to visit, habitat to see and things to do. For more information on birding see Birds at Lake Kerkini

Relevent Links

1) BirdWing EU :- A Website dedicated to all the Wetlands of Northern Greece, with a newsletter.
2) H.O.S. :- The Hellenic Ornithological Society - they could really use your help.

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