Greece is a very warm place in the summer time. No kidding. And so was the Greek island Zakynthos during our holiday at the turn of July and August. Already at 10:00 am, the weather was hot, that the only activity I would recommend, is to drink beer in the shadow, or to stay inside enjoying the benefits of an airco.
However, I always want to do some hikes whenever I’m traveling to a location, that offers some kind of formations that could even distantly be called mountains. Therefore, also on our beach vacation with a friend family and their kids, I wanted to give it a try.
I’m not traditionally a morning person, even through my work, I have actually started enjoying the early mornings. Nevertheless, during the hot Greek summer vacay, there were some days I wanted to explore. And that meant early bird mornings.
We did the first hike of the holiday to a small mountain called Skopos, located in the south east of the Zakynthos island. The path starts at the sea level, and there is plenty of parking space. We set our alarms at 05:00 am, reserving half an hour for morning preparations and an other half an hour for driving. Consequently, we started our hike at 06:00 am – which is a pretty perfect time to start in the summer of Zakynthos. The sun rise is this time of the year a bit before 07:00 am, but around 06:00 am it is not pitch black anymore.
Hike to Skopos begins with a walk along the beach. It is such a peaceful feeling, walking next to the sun beds waiting for the beach enjoyers to wake up. Sea is still, but you still hear a soft sound of small waves.
After walking along the beach, the first part of the actual trail is a wide forest road, which is easy to walk. However, there are some loose stones, so good shoes are a must. We had only our running shoes on, but I would have preferred my hiking boots. In the beginning, there is one slightly vegetated dune that you need to ascent and decent. Thereafter, it is just ascent.
The scenery is amazing. You see all the time the Ionian Sea at one or an other side – sometimes even at the both sides. It is like a meditation, walking up, waiting to see the sun which shows the first signs of rising by letting the visibility become brighter and brighter the minutes you walk.
A bit more than half way up, there is a small abandoned site (only one technical room). There is still some kind of turbine and instrumentation panel in the room. This is quite an interesting place to visit on the way to up. The place is fully abandoned, there is not even a door and the windows are broken. However, the remaining of the turbine and the instrumentation panel are still there. Be careful when being inside!
From this point, there is not much to walk anymore. The path becomes smaller, and there is one place where the water has damaged the path. The path curves slowly to the right and then you will see a cafeteria. It was not yet open the time we were there (07:15 am), but what I read elsewhere, it is at the daytime open. And if you wish to visit the church next to the top, the lady who operates the cafe can borrow the keys to visit.
Promise me not to climb the very last 10 meters up if you do not have the equipment with you – and the experience – to do some rock climbing. It is just a really big rock there. There is no path to the very top, and the big rock formation (approx. 10…15 m) forms the very top of this small mountain. We needed to visit the local hospital once and I can reassure you, you don’t want to get there.
Next to the rock, we ate some energy bars and enjoyed the beautiful morning before starting the decline. For this hike we spent just slightly over 3 hours and covered 12,8 km with total of 530 m elevation. We consumed 4,5 liters water and some energy bars at the top.