Hiking in Greece - Peleponesus

Be sure the check the main Hiking in Greece page for additional information and links.

I hiked the E4 trail, with some variants on the official trail, in April of 2007, northbound from Githeo to Dhiakopfto. The weather was mild for the most part, other than heavy rain in the Taygettos mountains. The landscape was beautiful with wildflowers and greenery. (Unfortunately, I later learned that much of the Peleponesus burned during the summer of 2007, so it might not be beautiful anymore.) The only other hikers I saw were a young couple in the Taygettos mountains. This surprised me, since Orthodox Easter fell in early April this year and I would have expected to find young people taking advantage of the spring break to so some hiking. (Spring break is normally two weeks long in Greece, including the week before and the week after Easter Sunday.) The countryside seems abandoned in many places—chestnut and cherry trees no longer being pruned, no animals in the pastures, beehives neglected, trails no longer being maintained. Though perhaps I'm wrong in my assessment—I'm certainly no expert on agriculture.

Streams and springs were mostly dry, which surprised me, given how early in the year it was. Maybe the water from rain and snow melt quickly permeates the underlying limestone, or maybe the land is experiencing a prolonged drought. (I later confirmed that there was a terrible drought, which culminated in terrible fires.) Due to the mild temperatures, my 3.5 liters of water carrying capacity was adequate to allow for hiking an entire day, then dry camping, then hiking a few more hours before reaching the next town. Snow banks obscured the trail in Mount Helmos so I had to take a short-cut to the nearest forest road and descend via that. As it was, I ended up walking an hour (about 3 kilometers) through snow banks.

I used the Anavasi 1:250,000 map for the Peleponusus, plus the Anavasi 1:50,000 maps for Taygettos, Menalo and Helmos. These maps include a GGRS87 (Greek Geodetic Reference System 1987) grid. GPS settings for GGRS87 are as follows (grid describes the transverse mercator projection from latitude-longitude to GGRS87 northing-easting coordinates, datum describes the Molodensky transformation from WGS84 ellipsoid to GGRS87 ellipsoid):

[Update as of 2013: refer to the main Hiking in Greece page for information about digital maps for use with a mapping GPS or GPS-enabled smartphone.]

The E4 way-marking was spotty in places. Where the trail was covered by 1:50,000 maps, this didn't matter, since these give sufficient detail that I was able to find the trail without the waymarks (GPS came in handy for this). Elsewhere, the trail mostly ran on dirt roads and in some cases there were more roads than shown on the 1:250,000 map, so that it was tricky to make the correct choice at forks without waymarks available. I took a few wrong turns and had to turn back when the wrong road petered out in the middle of a field. Given the beauty and solitude of the country I was walking through, however, I can't really complain about these few accidental detours. In the Mount Menalo region, I strayed from the E4 trail, either over footpaths or dirt road, in order to visit the western part of this region.

A bigger problem than poor waymarking is overgrown trails in places. Clothing and pack should be made of sturdy fabrics to avoid being torn by thorns and branches. Especially avoid carrying a foam pad or other fragile items outside the pack.

English is fairly widely spoken in Greece, but my basic Greek language ability proved useful in the central part of this walk, when passing through small villages where few people spoke anything but Greek. I deliberately went slow on this walk, including 3 days in Tripoli and 2 in Kalavryta, in order to savor the good weather and beautiful landscape, so that the trail took me over 3 weeks to complete. Someone in a hurry could complete the trail in less than 2 weeks.

Githeo

Mystra

Sparta

Tripoli

Kalavryta

Dhiakopfto

Eyio

Rodhodfanfni (2km NW of Eyio)

Rio