Vouraikos gorge, all-day, 14 Oct.

This walk is canceled. Do not read further. Here is an exciting idea for an outing by members and supporters of the Athens Strollers.

A Sunday trip, by car, to the Vouraikos gorge (farangi) in the North Peloponnese. It involves driving to the venue in our cars, walking along the canyon for 3 ½ hours, taking the cog railway (narrow train, equipped for climbing, odontotos) from where the walk ends to take us back to where we left our cars, having a meal there, and then driving back.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Where is Vouraikos
The village where we park our cars and from where we set off our walk is Zachlorou. It is ~180 km out of Athens. The first ~160 km are on the National Road that takes us from Athens to Corinth and towards Patras. After ~160 km on the National Road we reach the seaside village of Diakofto, where we turn right (at the 159 km road sign), and start our climb towards the mountain of Helmos, that takes us alongside the Vouraikos gorge to the village of Zachlorou. Zachlorou is after Megalo Spilaion (the large monastery off the main road, on your left) and before Kalavryta (the largest village in the area). Caution: once you have driven past Mega Spilaion, drive carefully and look out for a blue road sign on your left, indicating the Zachlorou village. Turn right here. The turn is a sharp one. Then drive along this secondary road, over the river, over the rail line, for the last few km, until you reach the end of the road, where the road narrows. Park here and walk to your right, down to the bridge, and the train station on the other side.

Perfect outing for family members who do not like to walk
This is a perfect opportunity for your spouse/partner and close friends, who want to enjoy their Sunday out of Athens with you, without the exercise. Anybody who does not wish to walk, may stay behind in the village of Zachlorou. There, you may spend the time at the taverna (it operates as a cafeteria outside dining hours and has the fireplace on all day), stroll around for as long as you choose or read your book. If you can stroll along the cog rail line (and back) for 30 minutes, you will still see fascinating landscape. Another idea is to take the train from Zachlorou to Diakofto and meet those walking in Diakofto.

The car trip
We take our cars. It is sensible to take full cars. This means that everybody who registers for the trip, please indicate how many free passenger places you have. Closer to the day, we will make contacts to agree who takes their car and who the passengers per car are.

The walk
We walk from Zachlorou to Diakofto. Walking is all downhill. Distance is 12.6 km. All walk is on the rail line, which makes it very easy to follow, and there is no need for flour marks. More than half of the walk is along the gorge, on the side of the river. The distance can be covered in 3 hours. To this, we will add 30 minutes for several short stops, so the walk lasts 3 ½ hours.

Walk not suitable for
The walk is suitable for all, except kids below the age of 6 years. These are likely to get tired and ask to be carried. Also, bear in mind that the train authorities do not allow dogs.

The train trip
This is one of the most romantic journeys you can have, anywhere. People come from all over the world for this, because cog railways are rare. The trip from Diakofto to Zachlorou cost (in 2010) 8.70 euro (7.50 for children under 12) and lasts about 45 minutes. During the trip, you will see some fascinating landscape in the gorge.

What you may expect to see and hear
The area is rich in vegetation, with lots of plane trees (platania). The water flowing in the river makes a very pretty sound, to accompany our walk. There are even several waterfalls on the trail, which we will stop briefly to enjoy. In an earlier outing we came across frogs and crabs as well. Check https://www.athens-strollers.gr/?p=50 for photos of this previous excursion.

Meeting point
We meet at the car park of AB Vassilopoulos super market, on the right hand side of the main road leading us out of Athens (this is the Athens-Corinth National Road, also referred to as Leoforos Athinon, or even Leoforos Kavallas), past the junction with the National Athens-Lamia Road. The distance between the junction with the National Athens-Lamia Road and AB Vassilopoulos is 3.2 km. Those who will not be taking their car on the trip, you will need to make it to the meeting point. There are plenty of spaces, if you are leaving your car here. If you are driving in a full car, there is no need to stop at the supermarket: meeting point for you will be the walk start at Zachlorou.

It is very important that we stick to these times. Timetable as follows:
We depart from the AB Vassilopoulos car park 07:15
We expect to have arrived in Zachlorou by 10:15
Walk starts 10:30 (not later)
We expect to have arrived at the Diakofto train station (the end of our walk) 14:15
Cog railway leaves Diakofto station 14:32
We expect to be sitting for a meal 15:15
We expect to be departing from Zachlorou for the return trip 16:45
Estimated arrival time in Athens 19:30

The only fixed out of pocket cost is 8,70 euro per person, which is the cost of the train journey from the seaside village of Diakofto (where our walk ends) up the Vouraikos canyon, to the village of Zachlorou (where we will have left our cars).

Buy your train ticket online
The Greek Trains Corporation (OSE) now allows you to purchase your ticket online. Follow these steps: Go to this page 1. https://tickets.trainose.gr/dromologia/i.php?c=krathsh&enhlikes=1&ekpt50=0&ekpt25=0&trip=1336%7C%CE%94%CE%99%CE%91%CE%9A%7C%CE%9C%CE%95%CE%A3%CE%A0%7C20121014%7C14.32%7C20121014%7C15.21&rtrn This page shows your beginning (Diakofto), the end of your trip (Megalo Spilaio, this is how OSE names Zachlorou) and the date 2. Insert the number of persons travelling. This takes you to this page https://tickets.trainose.gr/dromologia/i.php?c=krathsh&enhlikes=1&ekpt50=0&ekpt25=0&trip=1336%7C%CE%94%CE%99%CE%91%CE%9A%7C%CE%9C%CE%95%CE%A3%CE%A0%7C20121014%7C14.32%7C20121014%7C15.21&rtrn
3. Here, you are asked to select your seats. Do so, and press ΑΓΟΡΑ ΕΙΣΙΤΗΡΙΩΝ (tickets purchase). 4. Proceed as with other web sites.

What if I commit ‘in the last minute’?
Buy your train ticket by yourself and come along. You can do so by visiting an OSE office, either at Sina street (off Panepistimiou street in central Athens), or at the main station at Stathmos Larissis, or online. We strongly advise that no one takes the risk of buying a ticket at Diakofto on the day.

Other costs involved
Drivers will have to accept the cost for the petrol, for the trip. It is up to the passengers per car, to arrange to share petrol costs or not. You will also pay for your meal at the taverna in Zachlorou. You will pay for what you eat.

The taverna in Zachlorou
When the cog train has taken us back to Zachlorou, we will sit down for a meal at a nice taverna there. This provides a good choice of good quality meals, at reasonable prices. You will be free to choose what you eat. Anybody who chooses to limit themselves to starters only, may do so. Anybody who wishes to order a main dish, may do so.

I like it, what do I need to do now?
Please consult with your family members and reply to Xenophon. In replying, please indicate a)your acceptance, b)if you have a car or need a lift, c)number of people you need a lift for, d)number of vacant seats in your car.