The Stalactite Canyon
Located 8 km NE of the town of Kyparissia and only 3 kilometers northeast of Raches. Those who love nature and hiking can enjoy them with there.
The path leading to the canyon begins at the north side of the site of Peristeria. The path with dense vegetation (shrubs and tall trees) is sure to enchant hikers.
At the end of the trail (after about 30 minutes walking) there is a source of running crystal clear water , old trees and the canyon with the stalactites.
The arcadian river or “river of Arcadia” accompanies hikers on certain points of the route. For the best crossing of the Canyon, since the whole path is in the water, there are needed water boots and swimsuits.
South of Kyparissia, at the height of Marathopoli and opposite the fishing port, is the island Proti, a limestone island with steep cliffs, pierced by sea caves. Its name derives from the sea god Proteus son of Poseidon.
In ancient times it was sailors and pirates heaven.At the point Grammeno there are preserved carvings with greetings from the mariners since Byzantine times. The island has a great archaeological importance.
In the island there are ruins of the Mycenaean acropolis with a wall and a circular turret. In the island there was also the temple of Artemis Efploias that in its position was built the church of Panagia.
In its heyday of piracy,the pirate Katoulias from Mani had the isle as his base and the battleship “Spetsai” stopped there in 1899, to be saved from the storm that raged in the Ionian Sea. From the port of Marathos you can get the boat that goes to the island every day.
There you can swim at the beach Vourlia with the white sand and turquoise waters, visit the monastery, Grammeno, or go round the island and admire the beautiful caves at the back of the island
Αmidst the peaks of Mt. Tetrazio, at the northern end of Messinia, Neda, the only female-gender river of Greece, flows towards the gulf of Kiparissia. Neda has formed the natural boundary between Achaia and Ilia for ages, ever since the Dorian tribes, Heracles/ descendants, took over the Peloponnese with their iron weapons.
The waters of Neda begin their journey from the numerous springs at the foot of Mt. Lycaeon, near the village of Petra; they meet with tributaries and streams from the nearby mountains; they follow an amazing, meandering course through narrow gorges, cool clearings and verdant ravines; they flow under arched, stone bridges and through dark caves and falls, to the fertile meadows of the Kiparissia Gulf, covering a distance of 32 km. The history of the beautiful and picturesque villages on the hills is intertwined with the clear waters of the river. These are places that sheltered extraordinary civilizations, glorious monuments and sanctuaries, battles and heroic feats ” fertile and hospitable places, beautified by human love and toil. Neda and its villages – true gems of the Greek nature – maintain a rare, exotic beauty and give a new meaning to the words “recreation” and “relaxation”.
Trekking at the Neda area is one of the most exciting experiences a nature-lover can ever have. The river offers a vast variety of ever-changing images, as it meanders through the slippery slopes of Minthe and Tetrazion. It is a unique experience with its difficulties making it even more appealing. The river can be crossed only during the summer, as it is made dangerous and unapproachable by the violent rage and high swell of the waters during the rest of the year. You will certainly have to be lightly dressed, have your head covered, wear soft and light boots and, no doubt, be accompanied by good friends, as the adversities you will encounter require good company.
You may start off at the riverhead, near the village of Petra. This initial part is relatively easy. Ιf you wish to bypass it without missing Neda/s most dreamy parts, you will have to start off at the bridge which can be reached by walking down from the village of Kouvela. The water-level is rather low at this point, and the riverbanks stunningly beautiful, strewn with thick reed-beds, huge ferns, willows, and plane-trees. One can walk on the soft sand and the thick vegetation of the riverbanks. After an hour/s walk the banks become utterly unwalkable, so you had better step into the river the water is pleasantly cool, and not too violent.
Neda has wonderful twists and turns, broadening and shallowing at some places, and narrowing and deepening at others, without however going deeper than 50 cm. The landscape is heavenly and mellow, with oak and wild fig trees casting their thick shadow around. There are swarms of green and orange-coloured butterflies everywhere; but what you will be enchanted by is large blue libelullae (of the Odonata Galopteryx species), quietly perching on the tree foliage and allowing you to admire their silken, transparent wings. Here and there, the river meets little frothy waterfalls, later to be separated from them, and the birds are so numerous and various that you can tell their respective voices. You will see large blue-brown crabs throughout, hiding under sandstones, or simply enjoying the sun on the rocks. After a two-hour walk from your starting point you reach a stone-made, bow- shaped bridge – the first οf many to follow – which stands hidden amidst the thick plane-trees. After that bridge, rocky walls rise on the bank, with thick trees perching on them. The river runs somewhat deeper there, but with a little climbing on the crags you can proceed without getting drowned. The vegetation growing in profusion all around, and the banks going steeply uphill cast a deep shadow on the river, so that going through hot summer days becomes a piece of cake. You will also come to small idyllic lakes, where you can take a rest and enjoy a swim.
Two hours after the previous stone-made bridge, the river has broadened a little, at which point you reach a new bridge, at the heart οf a gorge. The mountain slopes rise all over you, and what you see standing around is no longer trees, but large white crags. After a 45 min trek Neda starts suddenly narrowing and becoming somewhat hard to walk by, now running even deeper that before. The banks are uncrossable, as large crags green with moss and holm-oaks rise on both sides. There are spots of breath-taking beauty: slopes that have been corroded by the dampness of the woods that hang above them, have given shape to dreamy high-relief forms, and round-shaped stalagmites, with tree-roots hanging around them, intertwined with clematis and wild rose-trees. The rocky walls take the form οf soft red-coloured foldings, like magic curtains, while by their side there fly wild doves and partridges in pairs. Further on, the river narrows very much, so that the mountain slopes are seen to touch each other. At this point you must needs proceed through the deepest parts οf the seabed, where the water runs as deep as 1.8 m, with only a few handholds around. The adventure οf crossing a river becomes here fantastically exotic. Further down, however, it becomes easier. The river broadens again, and its banks become milder, with numerous plane-trees, willows and oaks around them. 2.5 hrs after you left the last bridge, you reach yet another old stone-made bridge, with the village οf Platania above it. The landscape is absolutely exciting: thick vegetation runs down the damp crags along with little streams that flow melodiously into the river, over soft moss and greenest wild fig trees and oaks.
25 min later, the craggy walls approach yet again, and you can see them as if rising way up to the sky, as the gorge comes to a close. You have reached the mouth οf Neda, where the river disappears into a pitch-dark cave. Just before the cave/s entrance one sees waterfalls rushing down the crags, literally transfixing the rocks. Going through the cave is quite a test just before you enter, you will sense the strong typical smell οf caves, and after having made your first steps into it you will notice a waterfall rushing down from a hole high up on the cave/s ceiling; the scant rays of light peering through there lend an even more eerie tone to the atmosphere, as it reflects through the large stalagmites. Going through the cave requires mental composure and, on doubt, an intrepid company. The river rushes in, and in the tunnel/s centre the water runs toο deep, even for the tallest man, so you will have to swim your way through the dark stream – “dark” only for a while, that is, because quite soon the level of the water lowers again, and you get plenty of light from the exit ahead. Numerous bats and wild doves fly in the cave, their rapid flapping mingling with the noise οf the water. As soon as you get back out to daylight, you can spot many little fishes at the river/s quietest parts. Neda and the mouth it disappears into have caused a great impression upon French traveller Henri Belle, who visited it during one of his travels in the period 1861-1874: “The rock that has beaten the wild stream is abruptly cut off, arid twenty metres later Neda surfaces again, narrow as ever, and flows under a natural arch οf six to seven metres of width, and in a new twist disappears into an even narrower and unapproachable gorge. Switzerland can boast nothing more impressive than this part of Arcadia has. “
Having come out of the cave, and having recovered from the tension, you can imagine the Figalian ships that sailed up to this point and anchored at the bank/s appropriately shaped rocks, at a time when Neda was sailable all the way from the Kiparissia Gulf up to this point. Then you trek on, along the Neda riverbed, which goes on in a distinctly calmer fashion and with no deep parts in the way. The banks are easy of access, strewn with round pebbles and blossoming oleander. The valley slopes are filled with vegetation as far as the eye can reach, and the river flows on, twirling its water. Half an hour after coming out of the cave you notice, on your right hand-side, a small stream leading to a rocky cavity where it forms an impressive waterfall, falling down into a stony pit. Trekking on yet, the landscape soon changes, as the valley keeps broadening, leading to a large meadow. Here are some old watermills. The oldest one is the Marmaras Mill (=the MarbleWorker). It was built around 1500 and is situated near Kalivia. This was once the central point of the entire area, as corngrinding provided an opportunity for socialising and chatting. just before you reach Kalivia, you meet the Papaghiorghis Mill. It was built around 1850 and operated excellently for a period of about a hundred years. There also operated a special water-operated factory (called nerotrivi ίn Greek) for processing woolen fabrics. From this ροίnt onwards you will meet many waterless riverbeds imprinted on the banks, before you reach the first patches of cultivated land, orchards and vineyards. Behind them there lies a pinewood. The level of the water ίn Neda is now very low, as ίι is used to irrigate the surrounding lands. Walking along the left bank you will soon reach Karies, the closest νίllage, where you can stop, since there is nothing particularly interesting ίn the rest of the walk until the rivermouth.
Crossing Neda is certainly exhausting, ίf attempted on a single day. So you can spread ίt ονer two or three days, thus better enjoying this great experience. You will certainly have to schedule beforehand your way of departing from any ρoint you stop at, because public transport between villages is still at a primitive stage. Every summer local organisations and groups οf nature-lovers organise a two-day trek along Neda, Crossing this stunning river is literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a reverent pilgrimage to the greatness of Messinian nature.
In the municipality of Voufrada, 32 kilometres away from Kalamata there is the canyon of Polilimnio with its lakes and waterfalls.
Crossing a small path for 5 minutes and passing through dense vegetation and picturesque wooden bridges you will find yourselves in a secret paradise made of small lakes and waterfalls, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards.
15 lakes with different strange names such as Mavrolimna, Kadi, Kadoula, Lucky’s, Italian’s, Panagos’s, Stathoula’s, well hidden for many years, have become known to the public only recently and opened to visits of nature’s friends. In the summer many are those who prefer the cool waters of the lakes of Polilimnio to swim, as for example in lake Kadoula, which was named after its heart-like shape.
The waterfall offers a unique experience to whoever reaches it, while the bravest ones get themseleves to impressive dives from the surrounding rocks in the lake’s deep waters. Small canyons, dense vegetation and gorgeous waterfalls will turn a hike of medium difficulty 3 kilometres long into a unique and unforgettable experience. The canyon’s water that come from Mesopotamos, after crossing the bridge of Tzane, flow into the lap of the Messinian Bay. If someone follows the canyon downwards they will reach the cave of beautiful butterflies.
It is very easy to find Polilimnio, following the road from Kalamata to Pylos. Near the village Kazarma there is the village Charavgi, from where the path to Polilimnio begins (there is a sign leading to Polilimnio on the main road).