We decided to make as a gift to ourselves a weekend in nature and chose the area around the historic Karytaina to live the unique experience of River Trekking!
How to get there: Athens-Tripoli-Megalopoli-Karytaina. The total distance is 220 km and you will need about 2 ½ hours. Alternatively, you can follow the route via Vytina-Dimitsana-Stemnitsa-Hellenikos.
Text & Photos: Hermes Katharakis
Rowing on the rushing waters of the rivers Lousios and Alfios
Karytaina attracts extreme types of people all year, including us, who engage in alternative activities and preferably they come for rafting. We made an appointment at the entrance of the village of Karytaina with Alekos Papavasilopoulos, a skillful rafter and owner of the company "Peripeteia".
The picturesque settlement of Karytaina with the mansions of Arcadian architecture.
Without wasting time, we wear the special neoprene outfits, we enter the jeeps and we head towards the bridge of Atsicholou, the starting point of our rafting descent. Before we start, the guides familiarize us with the orders they will give us during rafting, for example, how to stay on the boat, how to paddle, what we do if we fall into the river and generally introduce us about what we need to know before boating downstream. We divide into groups, we wear lifejackets and helmets, we take our paddles and off we go!
We take our places and before we know it, we are in the middle of a wonderful landscape with crystal clear waters and green nature all around us! As the boat strikes against the raging waters of Lousios river, we feel our adrenaline rising. The boat crew shouts with enthusiasm and we laugh as we pass through steeply passages, rocky obstacles and branches. We fall into the water, we taste the river, we smell it and we touch it. In some places we encounter sparkling waters and in others small ponds. We observe the "eddie", the opposite currents of the water, which are formed in several points of the route, as they are fighting against the downstream of the river.
We are now entirely in the narrow canyon and we enjoy the journey of the three kilometers of Lousios river. The beauty of the landscape with the lush vegetation, the stone arched bridges, the springs that "pour" out of the plane trees and the beautiful sculptures formed by the water-sculpted rocks, combined with the impressive passages and the crystal clear waters, reward us, while we continue to paddle with a vivid pace.
The stone bridge of Atsicholos, which crowns Lousios, is the starting point of the descent.
We have already entered Alfios and our guide, Nick, prepares us for the best part of the route, as it has 3-4 twists, various "steps" and a small waterfall. It is a great experience to overcome the obstacles of the river that pushes us with the power of the water.
Even though we are now at the end of the journey, very close to Koukou's single arched-bridge, a feeling of excitement and wellness overwhelm us. We load the boats onto the jeeps and we follow the path to the striking Vrondos cascade. It is 15 meters tall and forms pits, in which we dive. It really is an ideal continuation after rafting for those who have left with a taste of the unfinished and wish to become one with the water. We reach the point where the waters from the springs of Andriopoulos and Kato Kotyliou join and literally wash us!
This route is moderate in difficulty and is the most popular one in Greece.
Degree of Difficulty: Grade III
Length of Route: Approximately 8 km
Duration: Approximately 2 hours
Season: All year
Experience: Not required
Physical State: No requirements
Groups: 4-6-8 people
Tip: Have a pair of shoes, swimsuit or second pair of underwear and a towel with you.
For those who wish to go even deeper into the rafting, they can continue after the Koukos bridge for additional 10 km, towards the beach of Theissos, for another great journey in an environment of unparalleled beauty.
Before and after rafting…
Rappel at the Alfios Bridge: A well-known location which for many years was imprinted on the 5000 drachmas note with Theodoros Kolokotronis (the heroe of the 1821 revolution). It is located outside the settlement of Karytaina towards Andritsaina. From here you can abseil with special equipment the 40 meters that divide you and the riverbed, with a view to the Castle of Karytaina.
Climbing to Karytaina Castle: Built in the 13th century, during the Frankish period, with building material from the ruins of Ancient Vrenthe. From here, in the 19th century, Kolokotronis and the rebellious inhabitants demolished Ibrahim and his army. It's visible almost all over the area and you do not have to admire it only from afar: Take a deep breath and climb the 100 or more stairs leading to its steep cliff top. From there you will enjoy the magnificent view of Mount Lykaio, the plain of Megalopoli, the gorge of Lousios and Alfios and of course the traditional settlement of Karytaina in all its grandeur.
Following the path around the fortress of Karytaina, also known as "Toledo of Greece".
Travel with "Peripeteia" (https://www.facebook.com/Peripeteia-369093349797238/) !