Magnificent and imposing Mt. Taygetus, Peloponnese’s tallest mountain, reaching 2,405 metres and covering a length of roughly 115 kilometres from central Peloponnese to the south, is ideal for excursions and trekking.
The mountain range’s ridge serves as a natural border between the Messinia and Lakonia regions. The plains of Sparta are spread to the east, with Kalamata and the Messinian Mani coastline to the west.
Many villages at the foot of this mountain range serve as the starting points of trails. Taygetus hosts simple as well as challenging trekking routes, both short and long, requiring many hours to cover. Some of the trails are many centuries old as, in the past, they served as important links between towns and villages.
One of the most trodden paths reaches the mountain summit, Profitis Ilias, at the range’s Sparta side on the east. A tarmac road reaches as far as the Magganiari springs above the village Toriza. Motorists may park their vehicles there. Check the forestry authority’s map marking the paths. This spot is at an altitude of 980 metres. The first place to reach from here is the mountain refuge at the Varvara location, 1,550 metres high and maintained by the EOS Sparta mountaineering society. This stretch, passing through a dense forest of black pines, requires between 3 to 4 hours to cover and is 3,700 metres long. It is well signposted and safe, but trekkers need to be relatively fit to persevere with the ascent.
From the Varvara mountain refuge, a further 3 to 4 hours of walking is needed to cover 3,800 metres and a rise of approximately 850 metres, all the way to the summit. The view from the top will reward your effort. On a clear day, the view from the peak reaches as far as Crete, while the southern Peloponnese’s central and eastern peninsulas, with Kythira in the distance, are also visible.
Another path reaching the summit and the aforementioned refuge begins at the village Anavryti. It is a part of the European E4 network of trails. This village is also the starting point for a number of fascinating trails, including one which, once over the altitude of 2,200 metres, leads to a monastery, Faneromeni. This path is also appropriate for families, while another, slightly more challenging, leads to the village Neos Mystras, a picturesque attraction with a traditional atmosphere.
It is also worth exploring the Taygetos Trails, a network of trails at the mountain range’s northern section linking 14 mountain villages. These trails range from easy routes, such as a 2-kilometre path linking the village Agia Irini with Trypi – it is manageable by bicycle – to tougher routes like a 12.5-kilometre stretch from the village Loggastra to Mystras, via Trypi and Pikoulianika.
Info: EOS Sparta Refuge, tel. +30 6945 832701, e-mail: email@example.com
Taygetos Trails, www.taygetostrails.gr
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