Greece is very well known for its wonderful beaches with turquoise waters, but it also has unknown treasures that are really worth visiting.
One of these places that you should visit is Axios Delta National Park, which could also be called the unknown treasure of Thessaloniki, because it is one of the most important protected wetland ecosystems, both in Greece and Europe.
On the western shores of the Thermaic Gulf, starting just 10 km south-west of Thessaloniki, at the end of the industrial zone, starts a world of astounding natural beauty. The Axios Delta National Park covers around 380 square kilometers and includes the deltas of the rivers Axios and Aliakmon, the wetlands of Nea Agathoupoli and Alyki Kitrous, the Kalochori Lagoon and the estuary of the river Gallikos.
This area is so valuable because hundreds of species of plants, birds, mammals as well as amphibians call it home. Around 300 different species of birds live here or migrate into this area so you can have look at them from the birdwatching tower – especially designed to give a great view to the visitors.
If you are lucky enough, you can see the white-tailed sea eagle in this Natural Park. There are a few pairs in Greece and one of them has its nest in this wonderful place.
In winter a large number of flamingos make this place look like a fairy-tale. Flamingos feed on red crustaceans that live in the salt pans that you can see around the Alyki Kitrous Lagoon. These tiny red crustaceans are origin of the lovely red color of the flamingos.
Another reason why this place is so significant is represented by the mussel farms. As you walk by you can see directly in the middle of the sea the systems especially built to collect the sea mussels. The production of mussels from the Axios Delta Park is enjoyed all over Greece so most probably your taste buds have already enjoyed the tasty mussels from here.
Some of the mussel farmers houses are built right on the water, hovering on the sea, giving you the impression that you are in a fairy-tale. As you walk by their houses you can see them playing backgammon, drinking their coffee, listening to traditional Greek music and enjoying the small things in life. This view will bring you closer to the traditional Greek life and culture and will make you feel the Greek vibe.
This Natural Park is a blessing for people because of its precious gifts – oxygen and water. It is also a great place for agriculture – especially for the famous rice cultivation. Here almost 70% of the Greek rice is produced, which is very important for the local and national economy.
A visit here will offer you a diversity of experiences, it will help you disconnect from your daily routine and connect with nature and the simplicity of life. It will definitely charge your batteries.
Alexandra Nicola – Balkazaar contributor