It is no coincidence that the name ‘Arcadia’, the name of this region at the heart of the Peloponnese Peninsula of southern Greece, is synonymous with our ideal rural landscape. This lush, mountainous landscape is such a beautiful place you may even feel you have stumbled into one of the myths for which the Peloponnese Peninsula is famed.
The area around ancient Gortys is a lovely place – heaven for hikers. The monks of the monastery of Prodhrómou own the surrounding farmland and they have carved a path up along the Gorge of Loúsios between Áyios Andhréas and the monastery. It takes around 40 minutes to reach the start of the graded path. The walk is along a graded trail which follows the stream. The monastery itself perches precipitously on the cliff edge high above the path and one of the few monks who live here will show you the frescoes here if you show up when the monastery is open – it is closed between 2 and 5pm. Strict dress codes must be adhered to and if you are immodestly dressed then you will be given a blanket like item of clothing to don to enter the monastery. Beyond this monastery, the path continues past two more, one of which, Paleá is a ruin dating from the Tenth Century. The other, Néa, is from the Seventeenth Century. It has been restored and extended in recent years but frescoes dating from 1663 are still intact and can be viewed by applying to the permanent caretaker monk. The path then winds its way beside the river and it takes less than two hours to go through Paleohóri to reach Dhimitsána. If you choose to walk this route you will see why it is so popular with hikers.
The Mainalo mountain range is traversed by the E4 European long-distance path. It starts in Vitina and ascends to the ski lodge on Ostrakina before descending once more to Kardara. This is a very pleasing and varied section of this well-known walk, giving lovely views of this area.
Hiking from the village of Vitina to the village of Stemnitsa is a particular highlight of walking in this area. Vitina is a popular mountain resort with city-dwelling Athenians who come here for a taste of the fresh mountain air. From the central square of the village, take the road leading out of the village to the north-west. The start of the path is well sign-posted with yellow labels. It will lead you first of all down to the river Mylaontas in its scenic gorge and along its banks until you reach a picturesque, deserted watermill and a wooden bridge. After an hour or so’s walk, you head to the spring of Aghios Theodoros, then up onto a beautiful plateau covered with walnut trees the church of the life-giving spring. Passing through Eftakarvelou, you turn right, continuing on until you reach a crossroads. At the crossroads you take a left turn, and follow this path for five kilometers or so until you reach Stemnitsa.
These routes are just a few examples of the many wonderful hiking paths throughout Arcadia. Come to the Peloponnese to discover some of them for yourself.