Vertical peaks, alpine lakes, blooming slopes and stream meanders create the most beautiful alpine landscape in Greece. Lakmos, or Peristeri, is an elongated mountain range that separates the regions of Epirus and Thessaly. At the centre of the mountain and at an altitude of 2,050 metres lies the most prominent alpine plateau of Greece, the famous Verliga. Its name comes from the Aromanian word “Vriga” which means cycle, while it is also known by the names Diverliga and Vourliga. To the north of the plateau rises the highest peak of Lakmos, Tsoukarella (2,295 m.) and in the south begin the rocky cliffs of Megas Trapos peak (2,240 m.). The waters running from the peaks create a seasonal alpine lake at the foot of Megas Trapos. Then the waters are driven east through a meandering network of streams at the exit from the plateau and create the Aspropotamos river which flows to the big Acheloos river. Depending on the season, the waters in the meanders overflow and form small lakes or dry out leaving behind their muddy paths. Verliga is a bare of trees landscape with rocky slopes, cliffs, alpine meadows, mountain springs and streams. The main rocks of the mountain are limestones joined in some places with flysch. The legend speaks of a dragon that appeared here, coming from the heart of the mountain. With the body of a giant snake, the dragon crawled to the plateau and plunged back into earth. Water sprang from the point where the dragon came, which now follows its ophioid course on the grasslands. The area where the seasonal alpine lake forms is called Pharmakolaka (trnsl. poison pit), a name that shepherds use, as -according to another legend- when the animals grazed there, they died. A majestic place.
The meadows that form Verliga are full with flowers from mid May until the end of September and especially during mid-summer. The bright yellow color from the various wild buttercups (Ranunculus sp.) mix with the cyan color of Crocus veluchensis that sprout as the ice melts. It will be difficult to discover the rarities here, not because they’re hard to find, but because you can’t take your eyes off the scenery. Important plants here are Achillea pindicola subsp. integrifolia, Gentiana cruciata subsp. cruciata, Podospermum roseum subsp. peristericum, Sempervivum heuffelii, Phyllolepidum cyclocarpum subsp. pindicum, Colchicum graecum and Centaurea lacerata. Other interesting plants are Erigeron epiroticus, Centaurea nervosa subsp. promota, Narcissus poeticus subsp. poeticus, Anthyllis vulneraria subsp. pindicola, Aubrieta scardica, Arabis sudetica, Minuartia stellata, Astragalus angustifolius subsp. balcanicus, Dianthus sylvestris subsp. sylvestris, Heracleum sphondylium subsp. pyrenaicum, Micromeria cremnophila subsp. cremnophila, Sempervivum marmoreum subsp. marmoreum, Sideritis raeseri subsp. raeseri, Stachys alpina subsp. alpina, Thymus thracicus, Tulipa australis and Gagea fragifera. Flora is supplemented by species such as Iberis sempervirens, Lomelosia crenata subsp. crenata, Saxifraga sempervivum, Saxifraga rotundifolia subsp. rotundifolia, Scutellaria alpina, Corydalis solida subsp. incisa, Marrubium velutinum subsp. velutinum, Carum meoides, Hellenocarum multiflorum, Scrophularia scopolii, Asperula purpurea subsp. apiculata, Astragalus rumelicus, Geranium macrostylus, Pimpinella tragium subsp. polyclada, Rosa pulverulenta, Sedum acre, Sedum magellense subsp. olympicum, Stachys tymphaea, Thalictrum minus subsp. saxatile, Trifolium parnassi, Veronica orsiniana subsp. orsiniana, Vincetoxicum fuscatum subsp. fuscatum, Viola orphanidis subsp. orphanidis, Ornithogalum oligophyllum, Scilla subnivalis, Valeriana tuberosa, Taraxacum graecofontanum and orchid Dactylorhiza sambucina.
Birdlife here is equally rich and includes many species that live exclusively in the alpine zone. In the area still live a few griffon vultures, while a few years ago here nested the rare Egyptian vulture. Birds of prey include golden eagles, short-toed eagles, honey buzzards, common buzzards, peregrines, lesser kestrels and hobbies. Large flocks of alpine choughs patrol the skies, while many rare little passerines visit the alpine when the ice melts. Avifauna is supplemented with species, such as rock partridges, nightjars, alpine swifts, skylarks, woodlarks, shore larks, alpine accentors, crag martins, red-rumped swallows, water pipits, black redstarts, northern wheatears, whinchats, blue rock thrushes, mistle thrushes, ring ouzels, wallcreepers, red-backed shrikes, common choughs, ravens, snowfinches, linnets, ortolan buntings, yellowhammers and rock buntings.
From the amphibians here live big numbers of alpine newts together with macedonian crested newts, yellow-bellied toads, agile frogs and greek frogs. Herpetofauna includes one of Europe’s rarest snake, the greek viper (Vipera graeca), which lives over the 1,800 metres. Other species here are greek slow worms, green lizards, common wall lizards, balkan wall lizards, aesculapian snakes, four-lined snakes and common vipers. There is a constant presence of big mammals here like bears, wolfs, roe deers and wildcats while other species are weasels, foxes and hares. It is important that near the high peaks and the vertical cliffs still survive a few chamoises.