Driving west of Athens, we will enter the Mythical Peloponnese region from the Corinth canal and explore our way to our destinations in an elliptical way starting from sea level, up to the beautiful mountains and back to the coastline. Since we will always be on a different route our trip will be engaging and full of different scenery. Sea views, wine yards, olive groves, mountain villages, underground lakes, Odontotos rack railway, rivers, gorges, and back to sea level.
First, a quick stop at the Corinth canal.
Cave of Lakes
In the rhythm of the music of water small and larger lakes follow one another. The Cave of Lakes, at an altitude of 827 meters, combines in an admirable way, ageless natural beauty, with the remains of habitation and myth. The myth says that Lysippe, Ifinoe and Ifianassa, the daughters of the king of Tiryns Proetos, found refuge in the cave when they were obsessed by madness.The Cave of the Lakes is a rare creation of nature with mysterious galleries and stalactite formations.
In the site there are archaeological findings like fossilized human and animal bones, including a hippopotamus. The site is a stone forest full of surprises. It has something exclusively unique that does not exist in other well known caves.
After a short drive we arrive at the town of Kalavrita where your driver/guide will treat you to some authentic Greek culinary delights in a non touristy location observing the locals in their every day life.
In 1936, the monastery was rebuilt but suffered severe destruction in December 1943 in the hands of German troops. All 22 monks and all other staff members were executed and their bodies thrown over a cliff. Today, one can admire a number of important and unique relics which are kept in a special hall.
Mega Spilaio Monastery
Built on the wild and steep side of a 120-metre high rocky hill there is a unique view from the monastery’s balcony. The monastery’s cells have been built around the entrance of a cave. The monastery was founded at this location in 362 A.D. by two brothers, Symeon and Theodore, because an icon of the Virgin Mary was found deep inside the cave where there’s also stream. The icon was created by Apostle Luke from mastic and wax . In 840 A.C. the Mega Spileo was burnt down by the Iconomachs and in 1285, Andronikos Paleologos rebuilt it. From then on, this monastery became one of the richest in the country. The monastery went through another two fires, in 1400 and in 1600. In 1934, the monastery went through yet another fire during which invaluable relics were destroyed.
Odontotos rack railway ride
About 120 years ago Odontotos rack railway started from the seaside town of Diakopto parallel to the river and climbed to Kalavrita through bridges and tunnels. Since then, the Vouraikos river and Odontotos go together.
The Vouraikos Gorge forms a deep and incredibly beautiful gorge. It starts between Helmos and Panachaikos mountains and it reaches the Diakopto seaside town. Vouraikos river springs from the mountains in Kalavrita and exits at the Corinthian Gulf next to the beach of Diakopto. The gorge is rich in flora and fauna and it is part of the network Natura 2000.
The little train incorporated so well to the natural environment that it seems that it had always been there. The way it was constructed did not put a strain on the ecosystem of the gorge. Using stone and wood from the area the technicians’ work is so perfect that someone may think that the nature worked on its own.
Odontotos is not just a train. Vouraikos gorge and Odontotos rack railway from Diakopto to Kalavrita is a unique attraction in Greece. In an area full of towns, villages, hospitable inhabitants, unique environment and the scent of Greek life. In order to write the history of this place we need volumes of books but a trip on the train will give you a real taste. Odontotos is waiting for you.
You will board the train in Zachlorou village (15 min from Mega Spilaio monastery) and enjoy a great 40 minutes experience going down the mountain following an amazing route.
Your driver/guide will be waiting for you at the other end which is the Diakopto seaside town.
We start our drive back towards the Corinth canal and then head to Athens to be dropped off at your base.