Monday, November 14, 2011

The mountain of gods

When speaking about Greece, what comes to Your mind ? Probably the first thought would be Athens with Akropolis, or maybe Aegean islands like Santorini, Mykonos or Rhodos, definitely gyros, mousakas, ouzo... but somewhere on the list for sure would appear Olympos – the mountain of Gods, so often mentioned in Ancient Greek mythology. What surprised me when I decided to go there and started to read a little about Olympos, was that the name applies for the whole region and mountain range, not the highest peak. In fact there are 4 main peaks with their own names, that I have never heard of before, such as: Skala (2866m), Stefani (2909m), Skolio (2911m) and Mythikas (2918m) - the highest point of Greece and the most popular Greek hiking destination (some sources mention a number of 10.000 hikers every year). So, the time has come for the first “out of Patras” post.
Together with my girlfriend, we have decided to visit Olympos in August this year, during long weekend (13th–15th), as it's almost 5h drive from Patras and would be difficult to manage in a regular two-day weekend. The starting point for the hike can be village of Litochoro (from the east side), Dion (from north-east) or Kokkinoplos (from the west). Following suggestions of most guides, we have decided to follow the most popular route from the east. The highest point reachable by car is Prionia at the altitude of 1100m. Here, a 6-hour hike begins, through refuge of Spilios Agapitos until Skala peak, plus additional 45min to reach the highest point of Olympos - Mythikas. In order not to repeat the same route down, we have decided to descent to Plateau of the Mouses and spend the night camping next to Christos Kakkalos refuge. Next day we continued down taking longer route: from plateau, following to Skourta and Petrostrouga, to finally reach asphalt road to Prionia in point called Gortsia. Luckily we managed to stop the car that took us back to our car in Prionia, to avoid boring 2h walk along the road.

The whole area of Olympos National Park is truly amazing! Within radius of 20km You get everything You could possibly imagine: the mountains, the forest, gorges with rivers and waterfalls but also the beach and beautiful coast line. No wonder, it's so popular area among tourists.

I could post at least 20 photos from this trip. It was not so easy to chose the best, but finally I decided. First one is taken from Kakoskala (“the bed steps”) over the Plateau of the Mouses, with both refuges of Christos Kakkalos and Giorgos Apostolidis, and bunch of tents between them (where we have also camped during the night).

Second one was taken from the refuge, pointing to Stefani rocky peak, called “the throne of Zeus”. It was actually our view from the tent! Nice, huh ? No 5* hotel in the world offers this kind of views! The legend says, that in the morning light of raising sun, You can see the face of Zeus somewhere among the rocks. In fact, we both claimed to see it, but as it later came out, we saw it in completely different place :-P Anyway, go and find it Yourself… Some say, it’s a sin for a Greek, not to visit Olympos at least once in life.
I really recommend the trip there! You will enjoy every minute of it, the hike, the views, the food and after all this, You can chill out at one of the beaches of Olympos coastline…

Photo1: Panasonic DMC-FX 150, Landscape Mode, f 1/9, 1/250s, 0EV, f=29mm (for 35mm), GIMP software

Photo2: Panasonic DMC-FX 150, Normal, f 1/9, 1/200s, 0EV, f=29mm (for 35mm), GIMP software

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