As our lockdown in Greece was about to end last week the boys were listening to the Greek Deputy Minister for Sports, Lefteris Avgenakis on TV. He was saying that due to the health crisis all major sports events (read, football) are cancelled. The boys were very sad over this so I turned and paid attention. The Minister of Great God Football concluded his announcement with these words:
«It is certain that the crisis of the pandemic we are experiencing has created opportunities. This fact makes us very happy. We continue in the direction of promoting our health and I invite you to look for forms of alternative sports and to discover the joy of these activities and the endless beauty of our country».
I was really startled! I had never expected a Sports Minister of a Mediterranean country to suggest hiking instead of football!
Consequently, I see myself as perfectly complying with the government request as I am writing this article about hiking. It is, of course, about hiking in Ikaria and in particular, about hiking on one of the oldest and best hiking trails on my island, the «The Round of Rahes on Foot», a natural and cultural heritage trail created about 20 years ago which was just recently worked afresh by the members of the local hiking club OPS Ikarias.
This famed hike starts very near Armenistis. This village is the main tourist town of the island, therefore the Round, unlike the other distant hikes on the mountains, was designed as an easy self-guided sightseeing walk for plain tourists – not necessarily experienced hikers. The plan of the Round is like a lasso with the hiker walking first on the spoke to the honda and then following the loop rightwards back to the honda and on the spoke again to go back to Armenistis. The spoke streches along the ravine of the river Charakas for 2-3 km but after the honda the loop rises away from the river and cruises around Rahes properly speaking, through terraced fields, gardens, olive groves and pine woods, on narrow stony trails, village lanes and modern motor roads across village squares, until the peak of the hike (Point 12 on the map), the beautiful mountainous landscape at the two small lakes «Mikro Fragma» (alt. 500 m.) and the Monastery «Evangelistria Mounte», two perfect spots for resting and maybe deciding instead of going back on the Round to try one of the three long trails which start right in that area…
But what am I doing? You can read everything about Rahes and the Round of Rahes in the fact sheet attached to the digital map of the hike. Both of these very helpful documents are in English, with texts and captions based on the historical, printed edition of the Round issued in Greek nearly two decades ago. The new map, besides sights, important locations and countless photos, also includes the spots where the Round meets some very insteresting distant hikes, such as «The Trail in Chalares Canyon», «The Trail of Atheras Ridge», «The Trail in Myrsonas» and «The Trail of the Elves».
When in Ikaria, either you are a visitor or a resident, I advise you to follow this trail inside a mountain/island landscape, typical of the Mediterranean, yet carrying a peculiar tint which both estranges and befriends. It’s placid and in the same time it’s wild like… well, like me! So, I am naming today the Round of Rahes on Foot as The 8th Power Spot in Ikaria! Let these few photos below, taken by me in that area a long time ago, stand as enough evidence. Thanks!
NOTE 1: Large sustainable tourism projects like this don’t just happen by magic. At the end of their article about their work on this trail the makers express their gratitude to «Amikaria» and «Friends of Ikaria», two associations who have offered a lot to the project. Big thanks from me too!
NOTE 2: Although the Round is 14 km long, we are talking about an easy to medium hike never running too far away from inhabited areas. Even if so, however, the lovers of adventure in the complicated landscape of Rahes will surely find several secret spots to enjoy nature in private.
Believe me, we know! 😉 😋
Armenistis – Agios Dimitrios – Christos Rahes – Kastanies – Mikro Fragma – Moni Mounte – Agios Polikarpos – Armenistis