Hiking on the Greek Island of Andros
Words & pics Franki Black
In the fast-paced busy world we live in, Andros with its generous people, biblical landscapes and luminous evening light, proved to be a perfect oasis.
We arrived, just in time for dinner, on the island of Andros after a two-hour ferry ride from Athens. We dropped our bags at our hotel and set off, ravenous. Food in Greece is a way of life. Known to be some of the best hosts in the world, the Greeks see it as their duty to feed visitors and… fed we were. With a stroke of luck we stumbled upon Endochora, a family-owned eatery situated on the main road of Chora, the capital town of Andros. Plates of green fava, mussels in homemade tomato sauce and Greek salad were presented to us by our gracious hosts. It was an unparalleled feast of organic goodness and excellent nourishment for the first big hike of the four we had planned.
My friend and I were guests of On Foot Holidays, one of the leading walking holiday specialists in Europe. Prior to departure, we were equipped with an On Foot Holidays walking pack that included maps, instructions of routes and details of local contacts. Our accommodation, transfers and most meals were arranged so all we had to do was arrive with a decent level of fitness. Over four days we self-guided our way along four different trails that ranged between 11 and 21 kilometres. We started with the most challenging trail (21km) from the fishing village of Batsi across an ancient mountain route towards Chora. En-route we joined a Greek Orthodox festival, drank wine with local farmers and admired endless panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. Our second day involved a 16-kilometre walk through the valley of lemon trees up to the Monastery of Panachradou, which dates back to 961 AD. Our final two days took us to the Pithara Waterfall, into vast valleys and through blue-and-white villages. Navigation was surprisingly easy thanks to detailed instructions provided by On Foot Holidays and hundreds of markers that line the 22 trails that crisscross Andros.
Andros is known as a hiker’s paradise and is the greenest and second largest of the 38 Cyclades islands. Unlike nearby Mykonos and Santorini, Andros has remained relatively unknown to international tourists. The contributions of a few wealthy shipping families and a successful agricultural sector have meant that Andros has been less reliant on tourism than its more well-known neighbours. Consequently it is one of the most authentic and untouched islands in Greece. One of the locals said about Andros, “Here we have the luxury of time: time to eat, read, exercise and sleep.” In the fast-paced busy world we live in, Andros with its generous people, biblical landscapes and luminous evening light, proved to be a perfect oasis.
On Foot Holidays offers 28 self-guided walking itineraries throughout Europe. For more information and expert advice on their packages contact On Foot Holidays on +44 (0) 1722 322 652, [email protected], www.onfootholidays.co.uk.