Walking the Menalon Trail. An unusual way to discover Greece on foot

For those who love the paths and en plein air experiences, this route is called the "Menalon Trail", located in a mountainous area in the heart of the Peloponnese.

Recently opened, the trekking route unfolds through the gorge of the river Lousios, continues along the western slopes of Mount Menalo and passes through the valley of the river Mylaon and the mountains of Gortynia, passing by typical villages such as Stemnitsa, Dimitsana, Zygovistii, Elati, Vytina, Nymfasia, Magouliana, Valtesiniko and Lagkadia where you become absorbed in the local culture: in meetings with people, in craftsmanship and food.

REGIONAL ROUTE AND CERTIFICATE. The Menalon Trail has received the European certification of nature trail of "Leading Quality Trails - Best of Europe". The route was created by a group of enthusiasts, with the collaboration of the club of mountaineers and ecologists of Arcadia and the support of the municipality of Gortynia. The Menalon Trail is part of the "Percorsi di cultura" programme, designed by Elliniki Etairia - Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, which aims to bring life to paths of particular natural beauty and historical importance everywhere in the country, also focusing on hiking tourism to stimulate local communities and promote sustainable development.

The Menalo area is one of the most beautiful regions of the country, rich in history and stunning landscapes. The natural scenery gives visitors a breath-taking view. This area also features the largest variety of flora and fauna throughout Arcadia.

THE ROUTE. The 75km route is divided into eight sections of varying difficulty: Stemnitsa-Dimitsana, Dimitsana-Zygovisti, Zygovisti-Elati, Elati-Vytina, Vytina-Nymphasia, Nymphasia-Magouliana, Magouliana-Valtesiniko and Valtesiniko-Lagkadia. The are 8 stages can also be shortened to 5 or 6 depending on your level of training. They are not long but the continuous rise and fall of hills, roads and dirt paths, stone steps, demanding climbs and sometimes steep descents require a lot of attention and technical preparation. Rucksacks certainly makes the walk more difficult. Trekking sticks are almost indispensable or, at least, strongly recommended.

Through the promotion of the Menalon Trail, local authorities are trying to make the area an attractive, all-year-round destination as well as trying to promote local products, such as wine, honey and aromatic herbs, and jewellery in silver and wood carvings produced on site.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION. The recommended period for this journey is April-June or September-October. Along the way there are water points and the signage is overall satisfactory. Inns, B & B, hotels or Airbnb facilities welcome pilgrims with a decent quality-price ratio. It is advisable to download the official APP (in English) to get more information about the route, the sections and routes nearby, or you can order the topoguide online.

To get to the starting point, Stemnitsa, the best option is: from Athens airport (200km away) get the bus, which in about 2 hours will get you to Tripoli, a hub in the region. From there you can get a bus to Stemnitsa (approx. 1 hour). The final city of the route is Lagkadia which offers buses directly to Tripoli and then to Athens. For more info visit: https://menalontrail.eu/

Luca Bruschi

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