Lake Kerkini

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Lake Kerkini

Lake Kerkini is an artificial reservoir that was formed in 1932 after the construction of a dam near the village of Lithotopos. The dam was originally constructed to control floods on the river Strymon, and for the collection of water for the irrigation of the plain of the prefecture of Serres. The lake was formed on the site of what was previously an extremely extensive marshland. It is a freshwater lake, mainly fed by the Strymon River, which springs on Mount Vitosa in Bulgaria, and flows into the lake before continuing its journey to the Aegean Sea. It is also fed by a smaller river known as Kerkinitis. Its size varies from 54 km² to 72 km² depending on the time of the year. Being in the center of the Kerkini National Park, it is a designated Ramsar and Natura 2000 site, monitored and preserved thanks to an innovative Horizon Europe project using Copernicus Sentinel satellite data. Lake

Kerkini is a wetland of great environmental significance. The wetland and associated forests, mountains and pastoral habitats are hosts to a wide variety of up to 300 species of breeding, passage and over-wintering birds.  More than 227 kinds of birds have been recorded, especially non-migrants, of which 76 are recorded in the National Red Catalogue, while 31 of them are protected by EEC’s Directive concerning wild life. This large number of bird species makes Lake Kerkini one of the premier birdwatching sites in Greece and one of the best in Europe. The bird life is best during the migration seasons but even in summer there are good numbers of birds. See Dalmation and white pelicans, pygmy cormorants, flamingos, raptors, passerines plus many others.

The riparian plantations consist of riparia forests of wild willows and water lilies. The waters are teeming with diverse fish (35 species) and the area hosts the largest population of buffalos in Greece. They number more than 4,000 head, and in the heat of summer you can find them up to their necks in the lake water, keeping cool. Buffalos contribute to the ecosystem’s equilibrium and with their milk and cheese to the delicious offerings of the local cuisine. There are 25 species of reptiles and at least 4,700 species of invertebrates, more than 1,396 of which represent new species for Greece and at least 46 are new species to science, which means that until now they have been recorded only in Lake Kerkini and nowhere else in the world.

Where is Lake Kerkini

Lake Kerkini is situated south of the Greek-Bulgarian border, in the county of Serres. It is a breathtaking place in the shadow of Belles Mountain - just 40 km from Serres Town, and about 1—km from Thessaloniki which has an international airport To reach the lake you can either drive to Kilkis and from there you can access the lake with a ride of about 80 km, or you can drive to Serres and access the lake with a ride of about 30 km. Serres is closer to Lake Kerkini than is Kilkis, but the route via Killkis offers the chance to see Lake Doirani, on the border with FYROM. The best place to stay is at the village of Kerkini itself. There you can find some accommodation options as well as some cafes.  

Things to do in Lake Kerkini

This is a truly wonderful destination - easy to get to, comfortable places to stay, easy access to bird-rich habitats and still as yet relatively unknown. An excellent place for wildlife lovers and photographers and a perfect place for people who enjoy outdoor activities such cycling, off road driving, canoeing, hiking and horses riding. Do not miss to take a boat tour and capture some great shots of birds breeding, nestling or taking off. it is possible to drive along the embankments round the lake looking for birds and water buffaloes on your own.

Over the past few years, the lake became quite popular for ecotourism lovers, environmental scholars and field researchers. Regardless your interests or hobbies, one thing is for sure, you will be amazed by the wonderful scenery of Lake Kerkini.