Artificial, marsh-fringed Lake Kerkíni, tucked up near the mountainous Bulgarian border some 80km northeast of Thessaloníki, enjoys international protected status, thanks to the 300-plus species of birds that spend at least part of the year here, some of them on the endangered species list. Huge expanses of water lilies stretch across the large anvil-shaped lake, out of which the River Strymónas flows to the northern Aegean near ancient Amphipolis, while a herd of water buffalo wallows and grazes the eastern banks, and local fishermen compete with every type of heron known to inhabit Europe. Other birds breeding in the Kerkíni wetlands include various species of grebes, terns, egrets, ducks, geese, ibis, spoonbills, avocets and pelicans, plus raptors such as the black kite, the short-toed eagle and the Levant sparrowhawk.
Two kilometres from the lake’s northern shore lies the village of KERKÍNI, where you will find the Kerkíni Wetlands Information Centre ([email protected]). You can also negotiate birdwatching trips in a pláva, a traditional punt-like fishing boat. The surroundings reward exploration with their abundance of flora and fauna, with huge numbers of wildflowers in the spring and early summer.