Geomorphologically the Peloponnese is characterized by the large central massifs of Mainalon, Kyllini, Aroania, Erymanthos, Lykaion, Taygetos, Parnonas and other smaller mountain formations.
Mountain volumes and central plateaux form a large water catchment area. The water flows through gorgeous canyons and transforms into rivers that make the coastal lowland areas fertile. The larger rivers of the Peloponnese are Alfeios, Ladon, Erymanthos, Pinios, Neda, Pamisos and Evrotas. The mountains and rivers of the Peloponnese have always been a natural border between the subareas of the Peloponnese. They have always been a source of inspiration for Greek and foreign writers, combined with a myriad of mythological and historical elements. It is no coincidence that seven of the twelve of Heracles’ labors have a reference point in the Peloponnese, while the rest of them refer to distant mythical countries.
Arcadia occupies the central mountainous Peloponnese and in ancient times its area was even larger, since Arcadia was considered to be the whole mountainous Peloponnese. According to mythology, the founder of Arcadia was Lykaon, son of Pelasgos and the nymph Kyllini, who founded the first city that the sun “saw” on earth. This was Lykosoura, at the foot of Lykaion, the holy mountain of the Arcadians who faced this mountain, with awe. They believed that in Lykaeon the matter was losing its shade by overthrowing every reasonable explanation of the natural phenomena. They also believed, along with many other Greeks, that Zeus was born on the mountain of light, Lycaeon, and that the nymphs Neda, Thiesoa and Agno, nursed him and washed him on the river Lousios.
Pan, the god of nature and fertility, protector of the shepherds, was born in the rugged mountains of Arcadia. He was constantly wandering in the forests and rivers of the Peloponnese, chasing Arcadian nymphs with intense erotic mood or playing his souravli.
In a cave of Mount Killini the shy Pleiad Mea, one of the seven daughters of Atlas, gave birth to god Hermes, as a result of her union with Zeus.
With these peculiar mythological beliefs, Arcadia became synonymous with a wealthy utopia, a place of peace and harmony, a dream country where a man could live without worries, meditating in the midst of a hedonistic dream. This bucolic archetypal has passed into the history of Western art and the world of ideas in many forms and expressions and became a theme of Baroque and neo-classical painters, with the most characteristic work that of the paintings of Nicolas Poussin “The shepherds of Arcadia” with the mystical inscription ET IN ARCADIA EGO.
Diakofto of Achaia, on the north side of the Peloponnese, is the starting point of the most interesting part of the European path E4. Walking along the cog railway and the shores of Vouraikos, bathers in the waters of Styx, you discover the springs of Ladon rive r, pass through the Arcadian highlands and the gorge of Lousios to the springs of Evrotas river and, following the cloudy Taygetos mountain, you finally end up at Cape Tainaron, at the cave of Hades, which was guarded by Cerberus the three headed dog. The proposed route, with slight discrepancies, gives the opportunity to those who choose it as a whole or parts of it to come in contact with general or special interest searches that the nature and the different phases of Greek history have generously depicted in the Peloponnese.
• 11 breakfasts • 12 lunches with a soft drink or beer or local wine • 11 dinners in traditional taverns with a soft drink or beer or local wine
Transportation • Minivan • Cog railway
Activities Included • Exploring the Caves • Athens by night
Entrance fees included • Tickets in caves • The Cog Railway
Museum Tickets and Archaeological Sites
Drinks and soft drinks (except the above)
Athens – Diakofto (By bus) Diakofto – Vouraikos gorge – Mega Spilaion monastery – Overnight stay at Mega Spilaion hostel
Total Hike duration: 5,5 hours Difficulty: Α+
Mega Spilaion – Castle- Ladopotamos –Tsivlou Lake (swim-Lunch) Hike duration: 6 hours Difficulty level: Α+ Then walk to the village of Peristera or Zarouchla (Dinner-Overnight stay) Hike duration: 2 hours Difficulty level: Α
Total Hike duration: 8 hours
Ano Mesorougi – Styx waters – Styx falls – Mavrolimni (Black Lake) – Chelmos (Aroaneia) mountain top (2.357 m. – Soudena (Ancient Lousoi) Hike duration: 8,5 hours Difficulty level: Β+ (Locally C)
OPTION Hike duration: 5,5 hours Difficulty level: Β+ Then we visit the Caves of the Lakes and the springs of Planitero Then by bus to Vytina Overnight stay
Vytina-Mylaon gorge-Pleiovouno 1843 (Top D of Mainalon Mountain- Stemnitsa village Overnight stay
Total Hike duration: 9 hours Difficulty level: Β-
By bus to Dimitsana Village. Open-air water power museum-Lousios gorge-Monasteries of Old and New Philosodhos and Saint John Prodromos-Ancient Gortys (Asklepeion)By bus to Karytaina citadel (A Frankish castle) – the old byzantine bridge and the village of Andritsaina (Dinner-Overnight stay)
Total Hike duration: 6 hours Difficulty level: Α+
We visit the stunning temple of Epicoureios Apollo in Vassae and then the bridge of Atcicholos from where: – Group A : Rafting at Lousios and Alfeios rivers -Group B: Hiking the down part of Lousios to Kalamiou Monastery
In the afternoon by bus to Sparta Dinner – Overnight stay
Total Hike duration: 3 hours Difficulty level: Α
Visit the archaeological site of Sparta, the Museun, the Olive oil museum , and then the amazing castle-city of Mistras (Mystras) where we walk up to the Frankish castle and then walk down the narrow main street to see the Palaiologoi Palace and a great number of well preserved Byzantine Churches Hours 2:00 – Difficulty level: Α Then by bus to the Mount of Taygetos We hike up from the water spring of Maganiaris to Taygetos Refuge (1600 m) – Overnight stay
Total Hike duration: 2 hours Difficulty level: Α
A dreamy night climbing up to the Pyramid of Taygetos (2.407m) We enjoy the Sun rise and the reflexion of the pyramid shadow in the Messenian gulf. From here we have a panoramic view to all southern Greece and some the islands even Crete when the weather is clear. We return to the shelter and we walk towards the village of Arna through the forest of the Roman empire road, the southest black pine forest in Europe.
Lunch under the huge plane tree at the village square. Then we take the bus to Gytheio –Mavrovouni – we settle at the Camping and we enjoy our swim in the sandy beach. Evening walk at the town of Gytheion, the isle of Kranai, Dinner (Overnight stay in the camping)
Total Hike duration: 11 hours Difficulty level: Β++ (there is the option to reduce the hiking hours to the half –by bus).
Gytheio-Laconian Mani We visit one of the worlds most famous lake caves, the Diros Caves and then two (2) hours hiking towards the Lighthouse of Cape Tainaron (Cape Matapan), the southern tip of the European mainland. WE also visit the Sanctuary of Poseidon and soon afterwards we swim and have our lunch on the sand of the beach at the picturesquevillage Porto Cayo. On our way back we pass through the traditional settlement of Vatheia with the high towers and the beautiful village of Gerolimenas. Dinner at a nice restaurant in Areopolis.
Total Hike duration: 2 hours Difficulty level:A
Visit the villages and the beaches of the Messenian Mani : Thalamai, Stoupa, the beach of Calogria, the beach of Foneas, Kardanyli.
In the afternoon we hike the Koskaraga gorge which ends in the beach of Santova. Afternoon swim at the beach of Santova. Dinner – Overnight stay at Kalamata.
Total Hike duration: 3 hours Difficulty level: A+
We visit the archaeological site of Ancient Messini and the Museum. Then we walk alongside the river Neda to the Eurynomi’s stomion (underground river) and Neda’s falls. Lunch at Figaleia or Kakovaton Afterwards we depart for Ancient Olympia. Overnight stay.
Total Hike duration: 6hours Difficulty level: Β+
Guided tour in the archaeological site, the museum and the Olympic Stadium of ancient Greece. After we visit the Helmoutsi Castle – Kotychio Lagoon and Strofylia Forest- Swim in Kalogria beach. Return to Athens through Patras