Varnoudas

An impressive mountain range at the edge of our country, which is distinguished for its rich forests, the variety of streams and the large alpine meadows, which host a affluent in endemic and rare species flora.

Varnoudas or Varnous, is spread at northwest of Florina’s prefecture, in the border with FYROM. The mountain constitutes the south endpoint of the larger mountain range of Peristeri (Pelister or Mpampa in Slavic language), which its main volume is situated insider the neighboring country. West of the mountain, are the Prespes Lakes, with the slopes of Varnoudas offering unique view to the basin that is created by the two lakes. At North, the mountain is connected with the rest of Pelister, at east, the foot of the mountain end up to Florina’s plateau and at south, is divided from Mount Vernon, by Vigla’s neck.

South, across Varnouda, the Mount Triklario is raising. Highest peak of Varnouda is Kitsevo or Despotiko (2.334 m.) and followed by other peaks, such as Belavoda (2.179 m.), Kirko (2.156 m.), Elatia (2.128 m.), Potistres (2.066 m.), Baltan (2.049 m.) and many anonymous peaks.

The mountain is distinguished for its rivers, with the main being the Agios Germanos river at the west, which flows to Prespes, the Ladopotamos at the south and Akrita’s torrent at the east, which connects lower with Erigona river. Main rock formations of Varnouda are granite, limestone and crystal stones, whereas the silicate substrate creates an opportunity for the presence of rare species of flora. At the west foot of the mountain, beautiful settlements of Prespes are built like Agios Germanos, Kallithea, Milionas, Lefkonas and Plati.

Flora 

The vegetation is represented by extensive forests of different species, which alternate. From low altitude to subalpine, there are large forests of oak trees, with a prominent presence of Macedonian Oak at high altitude. Forests of ostria, gavros and other mixed broadleaf trees are joined with the riparian forests of alder trees. High up, the mountain is covered with dense forests of beech and fir, whereas one of the main characteristics of Varnoudas is the large forests of chestnut trees. At various areas of the mountain appear dispersible beautiful birches.

The mountain is a botanic heaven, which connects the northern areas of Europe with south Greece and the presence of rare plants. The more significant of them are Ramonda serbica, Heracleum orphanidis, the Achillea distans, Bruckenthalia spiculifolia, Lilium carniolicum albanicum,  Potentilla aurea chrysocraspeda, Geum coccineum, Campanula foliosa and C. trichocalycina, Pinguicula balcanica, Centaurea deustiformis and C. napulifera velenovskyi, Gentiana punctata, Crocus veluchensis, C. cvijicii and C. sieberi sublimis, Narcissus poeticus radiiflorus, Ranunculus incomparabilis, the wild roses Dianthus tristis, D. myrtinervius, D. viscidus και D. pinifolius lilacinus, Ornithogalum kochii, η Saxifraga pedemontana cymosa, η Pedicularis leucodon, Viola velutina και V. eximia and the orchids Coeloglossum viride, Gymnadenia conopsea, Dactylorhiza sambucina, D. saccifera, Epipactis helleborine, Neottia nidus-avis, N. ovata, Limodorum abortivum, Platanthera chlorantha, Orchis ustulata, O. pinetorum, O. mascula, O. pallens, Ophrys apifera, O. zeusii, O. epirotica e.g.

Fauna

The avifauna of the mountain includes many and rare species. From these, stands out the rare forest chicken. From predators one can meet golden eagles, long-legged buzzards, kestrels, eagle owls, owls e.g. On the hillside of the mountain, there are a lot of partridges. Varnoudas is home for seven different species of woodpeckers. Other species are the quails, thrushes, wood pigeons e.g.

Amphibians include eleven species: Salamander, alpine tritons, toads and several types of frogs. From serpents, there are different kind of lizards, astritis snake and vipers.

Finally, Varnoudas is one of the most important shelters of brown bear in Greece, whereas wolfs have a permanent presence in the most secluded areas. On high, inaccessible areas, there are a few wild goats left. From the rest of the mammals, here is the dueling of wild cats, lynx, deer, foxes, otters, ferrets, badgers, rabbits and wild hogs.

Source www.naturagraeca.com

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