Anatoliko – The “meadow of the souslik” – Riverine forest of Anatoliko
- Distance: 8 km
- Time of route on vehicle (starting from the village Anatoliko): 11 min.
- Walk: 30 min.
If you follow the River Axios northwards you will be delighted by its beauty. Most people don`t know about this unique riverine forest, but there are wonderful walks where poplars, willow and alders adorn the river banks and their branches lean down to touch the water.
The “meadow of the Souslik”
Go to the village of Anatoliko and ask for the road to the cemetery and the little church of Saint Georgios. Across from the church, and beyond the fenced area where the local municipality organizes its events, you will see the “meadow of the souslik”. We call it that because this is where the biggest population of sousliks in the whole Park is to be found.
Once upon a time there were plenty of European sousliks in this area, but today the populations of this little rodent are much reduced. It is a species of ground squirrel which has the ability to run very fast and stand up on its hind legs. The souslik lives in underground galleries that it digs deep in the ground and hibernates during the winter. The plain of Thessaloniki and the Axios – Loudias – Aliakmonas National Park is home to the southernmost European populations of this animal.
The riverine forest
Continue to the north on the unpaved road that goes parallel to the riverbed, with the fields on your right, and park your vehicle near the bridge. From here you can set off for a nice half hour walk to enjoy the riverine forest along the banks of the Axios. The best season to visit this part of the National Park is the springtime because you will have the chance to see and hear lots of birds that live in the riverine forest and it is the time when the tamarisk is in bloom and flowers are everywhere.
On the banks and the islets of the river it is very easy to spot Dalmatian pelicans, cormorants, pygmy cormorants, little egrets and grey herons.
- Visit the area on the day of the celebration of Saint Georgios, patron saint of the village of Anatoliko, and watch the traditional dances and the horse races that are organized on that day.
- From mid March to mid September use your binoculars and be patient at the “meadow of the souslik”. You may be lucky enough to see one of these dear little creatures peeping out of its hole.
- In the riverine forest take notice of those areas bare of vegetation. In the past a large part of the forest was destroyed by Illegal deforestation.