Fly to Athens; transfer by road to Rafina (approximately 35 min), and then take the ferry to Mamari on Evia Island (about 1hr). It is then a short drive to our hotel at Karystos.
Our first day take us up to the villages of Gourna that are scattered high above the bay of Karystos and below the peaks of Mount Ohi. Walking along stone worn paths next to springs and streams, in a verdant countryside, we reach one of the grandest Forts of the 4th crusade, Castello Rosso, from where we can enjoy beautiful views of the Mediterranean. Using mountain goat-trails we walk down to the fertile plain of Aetos, full of citrus, olive and cypress trees, and we then reach the coast.
We drive along the south-eastern tip of the island, over the mountains towards the Cape of Cavo Doro, heading to the beautiful ravine of Platanistos and the first of 20 ancient villages of Albanian descent. Over the arches of stone bridges, we follow the river towards Potami hamlet on the coast, a Hellinistic anchorage since Homeric times. En route we visit the site of Hellinikon with the remains of the foundations of Poseidon's temple, dating back to the 8th century B.C. Walking amongst large plane trees we reach the sea and one of the nicest, yet still relatively unknown, beaches in the Aegean. During the warmer months of the year we have the opportunity to swim and relax on the beach. We return to Karystos by taxi.
An early morning drive along the panoramic mountain road to the North, known as the 'Eagle Route', takes us above the evergreen valley of Styra. We climb Mt Kliosi's dramatic summit where the remains of the ancient Acropolis defy time and elements on a 'Wuthering Heights' plateau. The Eerie ancient Gate, the cave of St Nicolas and the ruins of Castro Armeno, often in the mist, make it a visit to remember. The gentle walk down takes us past wild strawberry bushes and the remains of the Roman marble quarries to the quaint villages of Styra Valley, which overlook Marathon, just across the water on the Continent. In the afternoon we take the local bus back to Karystos.
We travel by taxis to Petrokanalo (1000m) on Mt Ohi, the starting point of the famous walk of Demosaris to the East coast of Evia. The deepest and longest gorge on the island is a unique habitat for flora and fauna; the gorge is home to peonies and orchids, golden eagles and dippers. In the shade of huge plane and chestnut trees, we pass waterfalls and pools (swimming is possible in the summer months) as we walk down the ancient stone path to the hamlet of Lenosei, famous for the 12th century church of Panagia and its wild herbs honey. At the bottom of the gorge we reach the village of Kalliani - another Albanian community - with a broad secluded beach. This area is occasionally visited by monk seals and dolphins. Here, there is time for swimming in the calm summer days.
Relax on the beach or wander around Karystos, a thriving market town. Alternatively you can hike along the Karystian bay or the picturesque countryside of the bay of Marmari, or travel to Athens for a day exploring the capital's famous sites.
Today we hike to the peak of Mt Ohi, one of the sacred Mountains in Greek Mythology, where Olympic Zeus supposedly wedded goddess Hera. A coach/taxi ride will take us up the slopes, close to the Chestnut forest of Kastanologos, famous since ancient times. A steep climb, weather permitting only, will take us to the granite peaks of the mountain at the height of 1500m, with breathtaking views of the Aegean sea. Crowning the summit for well over 30 centuries, the Megalithic temple of Hera, known as Dragon House or the Greek Stonehenge, appears suddenly amidst the clouds. Nearby the deserted stone built Byzantine Monastery of Prophet Elias safeguards the high mountain passes, still important nowadays to shepherds and their flocks during their spring and autumn transhumance. Along the slopes of this majestic mountain, we walk down towards the heart of the Marble quarry with the famous green and white striped Cipollino loved by the Roman Emperors. The superb site of Kolones with ten columns remaining, awaiting shipment since biblical times. At the Montofoli Winery Estate, a place of wine production for the last 2000 years, we try the exquisite Vin De Liqueur; a unique desert wine and full bodied Merlot.
Back to Rafina by ferry. Transfer to Athens. Fly to London