Posted by: anniskaliakoto | 4 August 2012

Ilia’s Name Day

It was Ilia’s Name’s Day on 20th July – so we decided to celebrate by escaping the heat and heading into the Vasiliki forest in the Taygetos mountains for a couple of days. There is a good road up to Saidona but after that the journey requires a four wheel drive – or sturdy truck; consequently most tourists don’t get to visit this area, so it’s largely reserved for locals (who are happy to keep it that way).

We set up camp just off the ‘road’ and promptly set up a mini home – Ilia put up a couple of hammocks just under the trees, so we had shade. At night, away from any light pollution, it was an amazing experience to lie there looking up at the night sky; we have a Night Sky app on our phones – so were able to identify the constellations and planets.

I thought I was doing quite well in embracing the great outdoors until the local goatherd, Nikos, told us to leave a light on overnight to ward off the wild boars! I woke in the early hours to a herd of goats staring at us from a crag a few yards above our hammocks, stock still and silhouetted against the early morning light; relieved that it wasn’t a wild boar attack I just stared back whilst mentally congratulating ourselves on having packed away all the foodstuff in the car before we went to sleep. After a while, the goats got bored and headed off and peace was resumed at base camp.

In the mornings, we would walk a couple of kilometres to fill up our water bottles at the local well and even found a remote Fireman’s lookout point which we climbed and were rewarded with the most spectacular views of the peak of Taygetos.

I can’t account for it, but time just flew by – we didn’t miss our mobile signal, emails or any of the trappings of the 21st century ‘mod cons’; before we knew it, we were packing up and heading back down to the thriving metropolis of Kardamyli (well, hardly, but it seemed liked it after the mountains).

A really special trip – and one we’ll be repeating as soon as possible.

Base camp. Husband is a grown-up boy scout, so we were incredibly well organised and wanted for nothing.
(Note inclusion of picnic table!)

Our view – at night the sky was littered with stars – an amazing sight.

Sitting here on the first night we were mobbed by about 200 goats, kids and billies ! Saved from them by Nikos and his family (wife Giorgia and 3 year old son Ilia) who herd the animals and gave us the low-down on how smart the goats are.

No Greek mountain scene would be complete without goats.

Not sure if Nikos was just having a laugh but he left the goats on the hill next to us on the second night to keep us company through the small hours. I can tell you being woken up by a few hundred goats milling around our foodstuffs at 3am was a bit of a shock!

Nikos – one of the goatherds.

Thistles are thriving in the mountains now – the bumble bees are EVERYWHERE.

Fireman’s lookout hut – we climbed up to see the view.

The view: Taygetos Peak with Vasiliki forest in all her splendour.

The view: Taygetos Peak with Vasiliki forest in all her splendour.


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