Was Hiking 800 Miles Through Greece in Summer a Good Idea?
Greece is one of 17 countries of our crossing of Europe on foot. We have hiked about 800 miles in summer 2019. To end up hiking in Greece in summer isn’t what we had planned, but the previous winter has delayed us more than we had imagined. So, we dealt with it. What image do you have of Greece? Breathtaking landscapes, idyllic coastline, Cretan diet, sweet Greek life—history presents everywhere.
Here is our experience of Greece in two parts: both the most striking places and the greatest difficulties that we met.
The Most Beautiful Places
Although quite isolated and difficult to hike due to the lack of maintained trails, the mountains of Vardoussia and the golden hue they took in August seduced us. At this altitude, the temperature was perfect for hiking and we were alone in the world. Yes, hiking in Greece all alone in August, it’s possible.
Village Life in Kolokithia
The small village of Kolokithia is special only to our eyes and those of its inhabitants. It is a beautiful typical Greek village: the central square terrace around a large plane tree, cafe on the square, and houses scattered all around. We arrived there exhausted and running out of water. We wanted to have a drink, buy some groceries, and leave. We were not counting on the generosity of its inhabitants and the fantastic atmosphere that awaited us.
We did the climb of Mount Giona at 8,234 feet in solitude but we can not complain about the state of the trails here; we feel that there is a little more passage. Beyond Mount Giona itself, we loved the descent by this dry river, a waterless canyon session that reminded us how much we miss bouldering.
Holidays in Skopelos
Difficult to cross Greece without visiting at least one island. In the Sporades archipelago, we set our sights on Skopelos, known for being a very green island, less rocky than the others. Our taste for exploration has allowed us to enjoy the isolated and sumptuous places of the island.
The Pelion is the peninsula east of Volos, a mountainous seabeam that dives into the sea, known in mythology as the Centaur region. This is not the place we would recommend to go hiking—following the coast is difficult, but certainly beautiful.
As mythical as mystical, we’ve heard about these mountains since we were children. Approaching them and climbing to the top of Mytikas was truly a unique experience. If you go hiking in Greece and can handle technical terrain, you should definitely visit Mount Olympus.
Safari on the Lake Kerkini
Before leaving Greece for Bulgaria, we came across the Kerkini National Park. This artificial lake has been declared a national park for about 15 years and is a real reserve for flora but especially the fauna: pelicans, water buffaloes, pygmy cormorants.
The Greatest Difficulties
Deserted Mountains, Closed Shelters, Abandoned Trails
The culture of walking and outdoor sports is not quite developed in Greece. As a result, the mountains are deserted, the trails are gradually disappearing, and the few mountain refuges have permanently closed their doors.
Being Rescued on the Pelion
The peninsula of Pelion was almost a disaster for us. Our family had joined us for a week on the O2 long-distance trail. We thought it would be an easy crossing for our family, who were less accustomed to exercise. In the end, the trail has not been used for years, the vegetation has completely taken over, we found ourselves taking a few days to hike a section that would take us one day, and in the absence of sources of fresh water, Nil had to go forward to find help to come clear the path and bring us water.
The Language and the Alphabet
In the 12 countries crossed before Greece, we made a lot of effort to learn the language. At least the minimum to be able to communicate a little. In Greece, to be honest, the task seemed insurmountable and the Greek alphabet was not there to help. So the search for information on our route, whether on the internet or by phone, was a real obstacle course. I guess this is one of the main difficulties when you’re hiking in Greece.
While waiting for our next report about Bulgaria, follow our adventures on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and our website and read our previous article on the crossing of Albania!
Talk to you soon!
Marie and Nil
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