Meet your private driver/guide for your 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. departure. In a short trip of no more than 2 1/2 hours, we shall reach our destination in this “real Greece” experience.
Starting from Athens, we drive towards the Corinth canal and make a quick 10 min stop to see the Corinth canal. If we start from Nafplio town we drive directly towards the mountains without the Corinth canal stop. We head towards Tripoli town (mountainous center of Peloponnese) and start our village exploration of mount Mainalo in the region of Arcadia. Not for nothing is the name Arcadia used as a shorthand for bucolic beauty.
The main destinations are the awesome villages of Dimitsana & Stemnitsa and also a couple of cliff-hanging monasteries.
- Dimitsana is one of the most attractive villages in the mountainous Arcadia region. It is set on a double hump overlooking the Lousios river. In this beautiful stone-built village, there are six beautiful churches since the Frankish and Norman rule. Just two km south of Dimitsana we shall be visiting the Open Air Water-Power Museum containing a reconstructed watermill, tannery, and gunpowder mill showing how the basic pre-industrial techniques used water as the main energy source for the production of various products. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and a few Greek national holidays, so please inquire in advance.
- Stemnitsa village has a medieval feeling with the stone-made houses, cobble-stoned alleys in an amphitheatrical structure. The amazing Prodromou & Emyalon monasteries will be visited and of course Lousios river, the gorge, and the remaining of ancient Gortys. All monasteries are in the beautiful gorge of the Lousios river and one of them requires an easy 15-minute hike. There will also be short walks through the narrow stone-built roads of both villages.
- The gorge of Lousios is one of the most important and beautiful natural monuments of Peloponnese, ideal for hiking, rafting, and kayaking while a drive around will reveal amazing landscapes.
- In the surroundings of Dimitsana and Stemnitsa villages, the important sights include the Emyalon & St John Prodromou Monastery, both located inside Lousios gorge and river. At the spectacular landscape of Lousios Canyon, 3 km away from Dimitsana village we meet the Monastery Emyalon. It was built on a perpendicular cliff among cypresses probably on the ruins of another earlier building from the Byzantine period.
- One of the more impressive attractions of this area is the monastery of St John Prodromos built along the side of Lousios Gorge. You can’t see the monastery from its parking area at the top of the gorge and a sign sends you on to a cobbled path that leads down the side of the gorge. Just when you think it can’t possibly be here because there’s nothing but a steep-sided ravine and trees, you look up and there it is, above you, a long mass of buildings clinging like limpets to the rock face, with some tiny, box-like structures with wooden buttresses underneath.
Somewhere in between these sites, you will enjoy a typical Greek lunch in a place to be arranged by your leader. For those seeking to discover real Greece, these villages are must-visits any time of the year.
At the end of the day, we return to your accommodation or the cruise ship in Athens or Nafplio.