A hiking paradise must include forgotten ancient cities, settlements without any roads, electricity or modern facilities, breathtaking landscapes and centuries-old cobblestone streets that you walk on with care! Welcome to Karpathos’s paradise.
The island is filled with hiking trails but the ones in the north stand out because they take you to places that are unreachable by car. Even if you take the small boats from Pigadia or Diafani to go there, it is hiking that helps you better understand every characteristic of this great place. Hiking trails all over Karpathos are now being carefully documented and equipped with proper signs. The images and the sense that one gets from hiking on the island are unique.
1. Avlona-Tristomo (3 hours)
This is probably one of the most beautiful trails of the island and it is mostly covered with cobblestones. It is a bit difficult to get lost, as you have great visibility of the area and you can use the distinctive blue and red lines on the rocks as markers. It will only take you one and a half hours instead of three to reach the end of the trail, if you hitch a ride in order to bypass the “stone carpet” (a part of the cobblestone trail), Agios Georgios, the Tsouli area, the well with the marble inscription… and finally the cart road! Following the cobblestone trail with the unique scent of thyme accompanying you, you will pass through Pano Itsila and Kato Itsila. When you start walking down the hill you will get to see the fjord of Tristomo down below from a point of the trail that is filled with successive sharp turns called “aneiries” by the locals. But that is not all you will see. A “secret” area also appears before your eyes. From left to right as you look at the sea the locations of Ahlai, Valtos, Lahamitis and Kilios are given away. The last two locations that still keep their stables, threshing floors and terraces with their stone walls intact are considered to be two of the most fertile areas of the island. All the early agricultural products were cultivated in this area in the past and Kilios was said to be able to provide food for the whole island! The reason behind that, according to the locals, is that the area is under the sun all day long (even though the place seems barren and deserted now). In Lahamitis the almond trees were filled with ripe almonds in June. The trail then stretches along a ravine till it reaches the swamp where a tomb just like the ones in Saria is located, and finally goes up the hill offering you a bird’s eye view of Tristomo. Such landscapes are hard to come by!
2. Avlona-Vroukounta (1,5 hours)
This is not just a trail; it is a true cobblestone avenue. It is hard not to get emotional when you follow an ancient path. The fact that after all these years this is still the road pilgrims walk on in order to get to Vroukounta is not a coincidence. Every year from August 27 through 29 this ancient avenue is filled with people heading to the church of Ai-Giannis while unconsciously partaking in the continuity of time of this very place just like their ancestors did before them.
As you set out from Avlona, follow the main dirt road heading north. Less than 500 meters ahead, you will find a big sign under a fig pointing left towards Vroukounta. Pass through the dry-stone walls and then turn right. The blue and red lines will lead you to a well collecting rainwater for animals and people. After you walk past it you will enter the cobblestone avenue heading downhill towards the sea. When you reach the sign pointing towards the location of the shields monument take the detour. Seeing them embossed on the rock with a gaping hole carved right under them will make your jaw drop. The place looks like a sacrifice location. There are stones scattered all around the place, possible fragments of an ancient community…no one can tell for sure. Right before you start the great downhill climb that will lead you to Vroukounta, you’ll come across a rock casting its shadow on a bench that marks approximately the middle of your journey. You are in Hondri Voula. In 30 minutes you’ll have reached your destination.
Duration: 1 hour and 30’.
Duration without any stops: 4 hours and 40 minutes
Altitude range: + – 330
Duration without any stops: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Altitude range: +10 – 290
Lastos plateau-Kali Limni
Duration without any stops: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Altitude range: +465
Palatia-Argos-Agios Zaharias (Saria)
Duration without any stops: 50 minutes
Altitude range: +500