Hiking Eastern Roumeli # Delphi – mt. Giona – mt. Vardousia
Roumeli is located in the geographical boundaries of the Region of Central Greece in the center of the country. The history of the name is long, as its origin comes from the years of Ottoman rule. From the fall of Constantinople in 1453 onwards, Roumeli was the name of a large part of the Balkan Peninsula, which came under Ottoman rule. After the Greek revolution in 1821 the name remains, but the boundaries that characterize the area are gradually limited to where Central Greece is today. Geomorphologically it consists mainly of high mountains,valleys and semi-mountainous areas, while a large part is surrounded by sea.
To the east of Roumeli rise 3 significant mountains with altitudes reaching 2,500 meters, while the coastlines of the Corinthian and Evian gulfs are formed around their perimeter. Parnassos, Giona and Vardousia, are 3 of the 4 large mountain ranges that dominate the area, in which we will hike one after the other. Starting from the historic archaeological site of Delphi, at the southern end of Mount Parnassos, we will begin our tour of these beautiful mountains and coastal locations located at their feet.
The daily hiking trails, chosen for the purpose of the weekly excursion, lead mainly through forest and subalpine environments. Roumeli offers mountains, sea, culture, friendly people and good food, which makes this place ideal for visitors. The cultural characteristics especially in the area of Delphi and the town of Amfissa are rich and the visitor travels in time and understands the wonderful history of the area. The “getaway” to the nature and culture of Eastern Roumeli, is a challenge and desire of many travelers who visit the area every year, to get to know the genuine Greek countryside and its long history.
17/9 Pick up from Athens airport and transfer to Delphi
The trip to Delphi is via the National Road Athens -> Thiva and part of the provincial road network that leads from the lowlands to the mountains of Roumeli. The mountain town of Delphi is at an altitude of 570 meters, on a commanding slope southwest of Parnassos, a few meters from the Archaeological site. Having an open view with southwest orientation, from Delphi can be seen the coast of the Corinthian gulf, the ancient olive groves of Amfissa and the majestic mountain of Giona. Delphi has been designated as one of the most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites and welcomes thousands of visitors each year from around the world.
Arrival and check in in central hotel of Delphi
Tour of the Archaeological site
Walk and food in the village
Route: Delphi - Athens -> 202km / 2.45 hours
18/9 Day’s hiking crossing "Delphi - Monastery of Prophet Elijah - Ancient Olive trees of Amfissa "16km / 6hours
Breakfast 7 – 8 am
Hiking start from the hotel 8:15 am
The hiking programme begins with a beautiful day’s crossing that will take us from Delphi, to the highlands of the southern end of Parnassos, to the monastery of the Prophet Elijah will end in the Ancient Olive Grove just outside the city of Amfissa.
The first part of the route ascends with a gentle slope through the village and continues following the Ancient Roman path, which has been carved for centuries on the slope of the mountain. The path, after a climb of 1.5 hours, leads to a smooth plateau with bushy vegetation and wonderful views of the surrounding area! From this natural balcony at an altitude of 1000 meters you can clearly see all of Parnassos and the peaks of Giona, Amfissa and the groves of Ancient Eleona that stretch to the sea. A road reaches the plateau that serves the few farmers to maintain their stables for their herds to continue grazing where the law now stipulates.
From the plateau the course continues west following the farm road, which meets the downhill path to the monastery of the Prophet Elijah. The monastery is in an advantageous location at an altitude of 500 meters and during the Turkish occupation was an important base for the fighters of the Revolution. The area of the Monastery is open to visitors following specific opening hours. Following an enjoyable break in the courtyard of the monastery and learn about its history, we continue our course descending to the Ancient Olive Grove, which is located a few meters above sea level. At its entrance we meet a recent discovery of an ancient Mycenaean tomb, which adds extra cultural weight to this historic area!
Crossing a dirt road from a part of the olive grove, we encounter the road that leads to the town of Amfissa, where vehicles will be waiting to collect the group.
End of hiking & boarding of vehicles 1:45 pm
Short drive 15 minutes to the beach of Itea
Stop for swimming and relaxation 2-4pm on an organized beach
Lunch in a seaside tavern 4-6pm
Departure by road to Delphi / 20 minute drive
Arrival at the hotel and free programme
19/9 Day’s hiking crossing "Prosilio - Forest village of Kapsitsa - Amfissa" 15km / 6 hours
Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 am
Departure by road from Delphi to the village of Prosilio 8:45 am / 25 minutes drive
Arrival at Prosilio
Hiking start 9:15 am
The route that connects the village of Prosilio with the town of Amfissa, is mainly through forest with many different landscapes. It crosses a remarkable part that takes us from north to south, hiking at the eastern foot of Mount Giona. The path that we will follow leads through a pine forest with special geomorphological interest, as along it are various rock formations and small caves, as well as clear glades with infinite mountain and sea views. Prosilio is located at an altitude of 840 meters in a northern orientation overlooking the peninsula of Viniani and the imposing ravine of Reka , which literally tears the mountain of Giona in half.
The forest path ascends gently and very soon takes us to the cave of St. Athanasios. In the small dome of the cave the spark of Hellenism was kept alight, the children, who tried at all costs to learn to read and write secretly from the Ottoman conquerors during the Turkish occupation. A few meters above the cave is the highest passage of the day’s route. From this point on, the slope of the route changes, from uphill to flat and gradually downhill, as we then walk on a wonderful wide ridge with scattered pine trees and gladed positions with panoramic views. We then follow an easy path to the forest village of Kapsitsa , which is located at 1,200 meters in a wonderful secluded part of the forest and is offered for a break. The place is tidy, but recently has become rather scruffy. However it serves for a short stop or a camping stay for hikers who attempt multi-day crossings in the mountains when passing through the area.
The course from the forest village onwards becomes slightly more downhill and leads to the exit from the dense forest and the crosses the sloping narrow valley that ends at the outskirts of the town of Amfissa. Overlooking the surrounding mountains and the sea shoreline of the Gulf, the path passes through springs, the chapel of St Nikolas and farmer’s huts where their sheep and goats graze in the surrounding area from spring to mid-summer. Through olive groves and the picturesque environment of the small historic town we end up in the main square, where the day’s hiking finishes.
End of hiking 3:15 pm
Stop for rest in the square 3:15 - 4: 15 pm
Departure by road to the seaside town of Galaxidi / 30 minute drive
Swimming and relaxing on the beach of the coastline 4-5 pm
Lunch at a seaside tavern in Galaxidi 5 - 6: 30 pm
Departure by road for Delphi 6:45 pm
Arrival at the hotel 7:15 p.m.
20/9 Departure from Delphi for the village of Artotina to the West of Vardousia / day of movement - change of accomodation.
Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 pm
Departure by road from Delphi 9am
Departure from Delphi for the western part of Vardousia Route: Delphi - Lake Mornos - Artotina 114km / 2 hours
Accommodation in Artotina in order to start a 3-day hiking crossing (on 27, 28, 29/8) , with alternating overnight stays.
Day’s crossing sections: Artotina - Vardousia shelter - Athanasios Diakos - Mousounitsa - Sykia -> Total length 32km
On day 4 in the morning we depart in the direction of the west side of Vardousia, where we will spend the night in a hostel in the village of Artotina for one night. The journey takes about 2 hours, traveling 114km on the road network that connects the villages of Parnassos, Giona and Vardousia, crossing a large and impressive mountainous part of eastern Roumeli.
In the middle of the route we encounter the lake of Mornos, where we cross about 1/3 of the area leading to the road that runs around the coast. Artotina is located in an isolated location with dense pine forests, ravines and high peaks that surround it.
The settlement, at 1,200 meters, is in an advantageous position with wonderful views of the surrounding peaks. From its square a hiking path connects the west with the east side of Vardousia and continues crossing the valley of the river Mornos situated under the high, vertical slopes of Giona.
Stop for 20 minutes at a point above the lake
Arrival in Artotina 12 at noon.
Check in at the hostel and relaxation in the village square 12 – 2 pm
Visit to the Monastery of Ioannos Prodromos (5 minutes by car) 2 – 3 pm
Return and free program / meal in a tavern in the square
During your stay in Artotina , a visit to a processing area is recommended for the supply of delicious local cheese and cold cuts.
21/9 Start of a 3-day hiking crossing.
1st day’s section: Artotina - Vardousia shelter -> 13km / 7 hours
Breakfast 7 – 8 am
Hiking start 8:15 am
The three-day crossing leads through a variety of landscapes (forest - subalpine) in an easterly direction, crossing a significant part of Vardousia and the valley of Mornos, reaching the foot of Giona in the village of Sykia.
The first day’s hiking section, 13 km long, connects Artotina to the west of the mountain range with the shelter, located in the heart of the Vardousia complex at an altitude of 2,000 meters. Initially, the route leads through the forest zone, passes through the deepest point of the valley, crossing the “Saita” stream and gradually ascends to the pastures and the highest part of the crossing, in thecol of 2 sharp peaks, known as Soufles . The col reaches an altitude of 2,300 meters, is located at the borders of the Alpine zone (alpine zone, over 2,100m) and is the highest point we reach during our week’s tour of the mountains of Roumeli. The view from the col is highly revealing as the eastern part of the mountain range emerges with the rocky countryside of the peaks forming a wild and imposing landscape!
Leaving the col at Soufles , the route gradually lowers to 2,000 altitude and continues following a wide ridge that connects the Soufles peaks with the shelter, where the 1st day’s part of the 3-day crossing is completed.
Arrival at the shelter around 3:30 p.m.
Check in, lunch and rest
The shelter is located in a commanding location, has been recently renovated and provides all the necessary accommodation and catering services.
22/9 Hiking downhill from the shelter to the villages of Athanasios Diakos & Mousounitsa.
2nd day’s section : Shelter - Prophet Elijah – Athanasios Diakos - Mousounitsa -> 7.5km / 4 hours
Breakfast 8 – 9 am
Stretching exercises in the surrounding area of the shelter 9:30 - 10:30 am
Start of hiking 11 am
The 2nd day’s part of the crossing is downhill and short. The hike starts with a deviation of 2 hours, compared to the previous days in order to enjoy the wonderful morning awakening and some stretching exercises at 2,000m altitude. The path continues with a slight downhill slope from the shelter to the church of the Prophet Elijah, which stands on a hill with pine trees at the northern end of the mountain range. Looking East, we can see Athanasios Diakos village, the northern part of the Mornos valley, the vertical high rocks and the peaks of the neighboring mountain Giona that exceed an altitude of 2,500 meters.
After a short stop to admire the view and a short break in the chapel, we follow the forest path that gradually descends to the village of Athanasios Diakos (1050 m), where we will visit the square taking a short break at the source under the shade of plane trees. Then we follow the forest path for 1.5 hours, which connects Athanasios Diakos with the neighboring villageof Mousounitsa (850 m), where the 2nd consecutive hiking section of the crossing is completed.
End of hiking 3pm
Stop in Mousounitsa square 3 - 4pm (tavern)
Short 5-minute drive to the hotel
* The hotel is built on a hill with panoramic views between the 2 villages, Athanasios Diakos and Mousounitsa. The peaks of Vardousia and Giona are clearly visible from its balconies, while at the same time they shade the valley of the Mornos river that separates the two large mountains.
Arrival and check-in at the hotel 4:10 pm
Rest 4:10 - 5:30 pm
Lunch at the hotel and afternoon walk for dessert or drink in the cafes of Athanasios Diakos
23/9 Crossing the Mornos valley
3rd day’s section: Moutsonitsa - Mornos - Sykia -> 12km / 5 hours
Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 pm
Departure for Mousounitsa by car 8:45 am
Start of hiking 9am
The 3rd day of the crossing and the last of our week’s excursion to Roumeli gives us the possibility of hiking along the verdant valley of Mornos. This is a truly secluded site with rich biodiversity and an important history that takes us back in time. In antiquity, but also later there was intense human activity on the slopes of the valley. Old huts, aqueducts etc. Cultural monuments, which we find today in the form of ruins, testify to the importance of the site that was a fortress and base for the ancient Dorians and future generations. Most of the route is shady, moving horizontally on the eastern slopes of the valley and following the course of the river in a southerly direction. On a low hill are almost hidden parts of the ancient wall of the fortress Gla of the Dorians. The path passes from the height of Gla , on the opposite bank of the river Mornos and ascends gently through a plane tree forest to the square of the village Sykia, which is built at an altitude of 750m below the imposing slopes of Giona.
Our 7-day hiking programme is completed under the rock giants that shade Sykia.
End of hiking 2 pm
Break in Sykia square 2 - 3 pm
Accommodation in a hostel 3:15 pm
Free programme / food in a tavern in the square
24/9 Departure by road to Athens with a stopover in Damasta`s hot springs
Route Sykia - Damasta - Athens -> 250km / 3 hours
Breakfast 8 – 9 am
Departure 9:30 am
Stop at Damasta 10:45 am
* Arrival in Athens is estimated at 1 pm