“Greeks are very conscious of foreign opinion; they tend to shepherd foreigners toward the conventionally acceptable things and away from the backward and the obscure. They need not have these fears. The strangers who form the deepest regard for Greece are not the ones who are bear-led; they are the solitaries whose travels lead them, through chance or poverty or curiosity, along the humble and recondite purlieus of Greek life.”—- Patrick Leigh Fermor

Ridgewalking in the Tzoumerka region

According to its National Tourist Organization statistics, Greece is host to roughly live million foreign tourists annually. Ninety-nine percent of them are devotees of a cult, bordering on the fetishistic, which dictates that all of value can be found at selected archaeological zones or island shores. Only a tiny fraction of these visitors nro aware that Greece possesses vast tracts of wilderness unequalled, propor­tionately, in most other European countries; fully 75 percent of the land area is classified as montane, nonarable or otherwise uninhabitable.

While the Greek mountains are not imposingly lofty or perennially snow-clad in the manner of the Alps or the Himalaya, they are graced with a severe, craggy, uniquely Balkan beauty and often riotous vegetation at medial altitudes. The more familiar lower elevations of the islands are no less inviting for foot exploration.

Mountains cover most of Greece; manyare over 2000m in altitude. Most are lime-stone, the massifs cut by a complex andapparently illogical geometry of deepravines. To people who know only thesummertime seaside the mountains aresurprisingly green, forested and wellwatered. In their more southerly reachesthe Creek fir, abics ccphallonica, is thecharacteristic tree cover from 800-1800m.Further north the black pine takes over,with extensive beech woods on the colderfaces. Springs abound, and rivers run all year round. Snow cover lasts from Novemberto April. But the mountains’ special beautylies in the fact that they have remained unfortunately not untouched, but largely bypassed by modernity.They are hillwalkers’ rather than climbers’ mountains, but you do need to be in good physical shape ro explore them.  Routes – though not technical – are physically demanding because of the variationsin altitude, the distances involved and theabsence both of organised facilities for the walker and of restorative creature comforts.

Armed with map, compass and guide,you should not encounter too many problems.  You will come to see the relatively virgin, uncommercial and primitive nature of these mountains or island hikes as an essential part of their charm.

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