Wolves and the E6
Updated: May 8, 2020
The imaginatively named 'E6' is a long distance walk from the north of Finland to Turkey. After taking a boat (which seems like cheating) from Croatia to the western Greek port of Igoumenitsa, the path goes due east through the north of Greece, hugging the border with Albania, and passes by the Prespa lakes.
We decided to walk a small and historic part of the route, that starts on the southern border of the Prespa park, outside the village of Vatohori, and climbs through a pass on Mt. Triklario to the village of Mikrolimni.
The mountain pass follows a small stream, on which, in the middle of the mountain, sits the ruined village of Sfika (the Greek word for wasp). It was once quite a large village as can be seen from the size of the church, which is hidden in the forest that has now encroached over and around what is left of the old buildings.
We were also fortunate to be joined by Fabio, a wolf expert from Italy. In places such as Prespa, where sheep dogs are plenty, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the prints and faeces of wolf and dog. But Fabio has a trained eye. And nose!
The common way to distinguish the faeces is that dogs are generally fed dog food whilst wolves are eating animals. So wolf poo is full of bones and hair. However, up in the Balkan mountains, the dogs are known to be fed all sorts of off-cuts from the stables, so seeing animal hair is not a 100% sure way of saying, "it's wolf".
Fabio told us though that the wolf faeces will still generally smell much better than dogs, given it's overall more natural and balanced diet! And on our walk, not too far from the ruined village, he came across a sample that he was sure was wolf.
An enjoyable climb, and not at all difficult. Very gentle ascent and descent. With a great view of Lake Lesser Prespa, before descending to the village of Mikrolimni for lunch.