Its taken me way to long to put this out there. But better late than never right?
With NL going into another lockdown after an outbreak of COVID-19, I figured I have some time on my hands to finally put this trip report out there.
Myself, Rob Scott and Robert Bertolo kayaked the 'Ionian Ring' in Greece back in June 8-17 2019.
|Ionian Islands are in western Greece, about an 8 hr drive from Athens|
We rented a car in Athens and did some sight seeing along the way to Vasiliki. The first stop was the site of the Battle of Thermopylae, where Leonidas and the Spartans made their famous last stand.
Next it was off to Meteora (about 4 hrs drive from Athens), to visit the famous monasteries high on top of the rocky cliffs. Very cool place.
We spent the night in a nearby town, and the next morning made the 4 hour drive to Vasiliki. We rented our boats and gear from Ionian Explorers (www.i-explorers.com). George Kiriakos, the owner and his staff, were very helpful, and help us plan our route for the next 7 days. His shop is right next to the beach, so it was super fast and easy for us to load up and hit the water.
But first, we had a nice meal of grilled octopus and some nice cold beer. There are a lot of great restaurants right around the waterfront, a short walk from Georges shop. There is also a grocery shop nearby where we stocked up on last minute items, include a bottle of Ouzo :)
Due to our late arrival, and the options for camping along the way, we decided to wait until late afternoon and head to Agiofili Beach, which was only 3kms from Vasiliki.
The beach is a very popular spot for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. You can even rent beach chairs and buy cold beer from a couple guys that have a hut set up. Once the sun started to go down, the beach cleared out of people.
The next morning we were up early for coffee and breakfast and hit the water nice and early to start exploring.
|Robbie making coffee|
|Our route for the day|
|Ithaca off in the distance, home of Odysseus|
|Our first break for the morning, for second coffee and some snorkeling|
|Heading into Sivota for lunch|
|It was quickly becoming apparent that this was going to be a different trip for food consumption. With all these villages and Tavernas around, no need to eat MREs. We were probably gonna gain weight on this trip!|
After lunch we headed east and were keeping our eye out for the 'Bat Cave' George had told us about.
|You have to duck to get in there. Be very mind of the wake of ferries, which can come from nowhere|
|The cave is huge inside and expands into several chambers. I really wish I had my headlamp on|
|The only way to really see anything is from the flash of the camera|
|Heading north between Lefkada and Maganisi Island|
|Nice beach for expresso/pee break|
|So many amazing caves to explore|
|Nice breeze at our backs as we headed to Thilia Island. We planned to camp there for the night|
|Small abandoned church on the high point of the island|
George told us to camp here, but also said to watch for snakes on the island. He said don't worry though, only the vipers are poisonous! How do we tell vipers from other snakes??? After walking around the small island, it didn't seem like the best place to camp, so we crossed back over to Maganisi to look for a better spot.
We settled on this courtyard in front of a small church. George told us that was an option as well.
|One problem, there were goats everywhere!|
There was a small restaurant nearby, but by the time we got there, they were closed and said 'come back tomorrow'. So it was looking like MREs for the night. We looked on the map and saw there was another village, on the other side of the island, only 3kms away, so we decided to walk over there instead. We were getting spoiled with all this great restaurant food.
We didn't realize that the 3kms was mostly a switchbacked road that headed over the mountain and across to the other side of the island. We were absolutely beat by the time we got there, but it was worth it!
|Shot from Google Earth showing the road from the church to Spartochori|
|A beautiful village (image taken from Google)|
|As much as I hated the walk, it was worth it!|
On our walk back, we managed to hitch a ride with the only taxi on the island. Only 10 euros and we were back at our tents. Lovely!
|The usual coffee and oatmeal for breakfast|
|Slightly longer day today, with a 6km crossing|
|Another flat calm morning|
The western side of Maganisi is all cliff and caves. My favourite type of paddling. I was in heaven exploring all the caves and nooks and crannies.
The big attraction in this area is Papanikolis Cave. It is so big that during WW2 a submarine used it as a regular hide out.
|There is a nice beach inside|
Large tour boats come here each day, and it can be very busy from what we heard, but we were there early in the morning, so we had the place to ourselves. Large tour boats come right inside the cave.
|6km crossing between Maganisi and Kalamos. Great conditions, and very little boat traffic.|
|Great spot for a break and some snorkeling|
|Old windmill near Kefali|
|Approaching Kalamos Village|
|We camped on this beach, just on the other side of the village|
After pitching our tents, we decided to follow the trail to the village, which is about a 20 minute walk. There is a lovely restaurant that George told us about that is owned by a friend of his, who is also named George.
When we told him we were kayakers and that George had sent us, he offered to give us a ride back to our beach by his boat instead of having to walk all the way back. How nice!
When we got back to the beach, there was another guy camping on the beach, named Mike. He was an interesting character for sure. We shared a few drinks with him and an interesting chat.
|I learned from Mike that you can buy 2L of water that is frozen.What a gamechanger! I could put in my cockpit for AC and have ice cold water to drink for the entire day|
|Today we'd head south to explore Kastos and we planned to return back to Kalamos to camp again that night|
|The eastern side of Kastos has some amazing geology|
We stopped on one of the first beaches to do some snorkeling. We really wanted to see an octopus
|Seal Cave, the longest cave we saw|
|Entering Kastos harbour|
|Roughing it again for lunch!|
|Making our way back. Lots of sailboats in the area|
|This is why you always bring spare paddles. Robbie's broke off just as we were getting to the beach|
|What a spot for a paddling break|
|Spoiled rotten on this trip!|
|On the eastern side of Katmos, the geology changed again|
|We found a dandy beach to camp on on the eastern most part of the island|
|Our only night of MREs, but a nice bottle of Ouzo to go with it|
|What these trips are all about|
|Up early in the morning of June 14 to listen to a live stream of the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA championship. Go Raptors!!!!|
|Today would be our longest day, with a 9 km crossing|
Leading up to this trip, I was nervous about such a long crossing. Especially if it was windy.
|Well, it looks like I had nothing to worry about|
|Next stop Maganisi|
|We made it across in a little less than 2 hrs|
|This side had a lot more 'fingers' of land poking out. We were looking for a Taverna, but weren't having much luck, there was a lot of private land, and a lot of boat traffic|
It was interesting, there were signs everywhere like you would see on the road for various services like laundry, showers, etc.. that cater to all the boat traffic here.
|We finally found one that was pretty darn close to a beach|
|Trying to figure out where to camp over a beer|
|Skorpios Island, once owned by Aristotle Onassis, one of the worlds most famous private islands. We didn't bother to paddle around it|
|Approaching Spartochori from the water this time|
There are steps that lead up to the village from the marina below. We went up to pick up some more water and some beer.
|You can see our boats on the beach below, and Skorpios Island in the distance|
|Such a cool little village|
We continued along the coast of the island, and looked for a beach to set up. Finally we found one that was directly across from the Bat Cave.
The next morning we backtracked along our previous route, heading back towards Agiofili Beach. Along the way we figured We'd explore one of the bays we skipped over previously.
|Of course we had to stop into the Bat Cave again|
|Second coffee and a snorkel|
|Our second visit to Sivota|
|We are a bit more haggard looking than our first visit to this town, haha|
|Passing by houses in Sivota|
|Thats me in the distance. At this point I was feeling a bit delirious with heat stroke, so I was paddling as fast as I could to get to the beach and get in the water water to cool down. Robbie took this pic as I motored away from them|
|Busy beach today, with several tour boats showing up|
|By sundown we had the place to ourselves again|
|Last morning of our trip. Its only a 30 minute paddle back to Vasiliki. |
|Another one in the books!|
On the drive back to Athens, we went a different route so we could see the site of Delphi, which was once considered the center of the universe
Back in Athens, we stayed at a hotel called "Acropolis View Hotel". They weren't kidding. There is a bar on the roof of the hotel, so we went up for a few drinks on our last night before flying home in the morning.
2021 is supposed to be the year for another big international paddling trip, but it is looking less and less likely given the pandemic we are in. So maybe it will be a paddling trip in Newfoundland. There could be worse places to paddle thats for sure.....but I don't think we will be doing much snorkeling.
Stay safe everyone