Sotirianika – Altomira – Sotirianika
- Sotirianika to Altomira: 2.5 hr
- Altomira to the gorge: 1 hr
- In the gorge: 2 hrs
- Back to Sotirianika: 45 mins
- map of walk
Nature of Walk
A walk with everything! Dirt roads through olive groves and farmland, one of the best cobbled stone paths in Greece and some Indiana Jones style gorge walking. A climb of 450m climb from Sotirianika to Altomira. Dirt roads, stone cobbled paths, faint footpaths and boulder strewn gorge bed. Some signs and paint markings supplied by the Kalamata branch of the Greek Alpine Club (ΕΟΣ).
The walk begins in the village of Sotirianika, but if you have a hire car you can drive a little further. From the central square of the village follow the two brown and yellow signs for the church of Agios Nikolaos. Cross two small bridges and then bear right, keeping to the lower dirt road. Pass several water cisterns with hand pumps and shortly after take a left-hand fork in the road. If you have a hire car this would be a good place to leave it.
Continue on this road until you reach an old yellow metal sign, pointing up to the left, reading as follows :
ΜΠΙΛΙΟΒΟΣ – ΑΛΤΟΜΙΡΑ
The cobbled stone path known as Biliovas begins here, just to the right of the metal gatepost. After a short while the path begins to climb up a defile in the sheer cliffs, by way of an amazing stone built staircase, comprising 75 turns. The path was built at the end of the 19th century and, despite some damage over the years, remains a testament to the skills of the stonemasons who built it.
As you pass the crest of the cliffs the path reverts to a footpath in places and is marked with occasional red or yellow spots and arrows, which lead you onto a dirt road from where the view expands east to the mountains of the Taygetos range and south, down the coastline of the Mani.
Follow the dirt road inland until it meets another road. Walk straight across to find the old path to the village of Altomira (yellow paint markings).
The path rejoins the dirt road just before the village spring, where you will find water all year round. Note the icon of Agia Paraskevi painted in a niche in the rocks.
Just after the spring take a right-hand fork in the road and walk to the lower part of the village of Altomira. The village is almost deserted and had fallen into ruin, but in recent years some of the houses have been renovated for weekend and holiday use. You will see plenty of livestock around the village, sheep, goats and mules, the owners of which may live in less remote spots, but find Altomira perfect for feeding and watering their animals. The village is too high at 850m to successfully grow olives and you will see instead almonds, walnuts and wild pears.
Pass through the small square of the lower village and continue out of the village on a dirt road following red and yellow paint markings until you reach some concrete block farm buildings. Here follow the red arrow (ΕΟΣ) right, passing another yellow metal sign, this time reading:
From here there is a stony path, which passes through a wall to the right, then descends rocky terraces, crossing a gully to the left before reaching a dirt road. Follow the road left until it peters out and becomes a footpath through fields, eventually becoming a narrow, gravelly path, which zig-zags down to the river bed of the Koskaragas Gorge. The path is faint in places so keep a keen eye out for the red and yellow paint markings.
The final section of the path down deteriorates into a scree slope which has to be slithered down to reach the gorge bed. Here you turn right (downstream) for a 2 hour gorge walk. In places the riverbed is quite even and you can admire the sheer walls and rock formations. At other times there are massive boulders to be negotiated. Look out for painted arrows directing the way to easier routes, sometimes facilitated by metal handholds cemented into the rock. From late autumn until early summer there is the possibility of running water in the gorge and care should be taken after heavy rainfall.
As the walls of the gorge start to reduce in size you will reach a stone footbridge across the riverbed. Exit the gorge to the left and turn right onto the bridge. This is part of a cobbled path that will lead you up to the church of Agios Nikolaos, from where a dirt road leads you back to Sotirianika, turning right at the end of the track from the church. Rejoin your car at the water cisterns seen at the beginning of the walk.
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