Crossing the gorge of Vouraikos! A beautiful and natural environment that offers a variety of images from different spots along the way. During the hike, the landscape alternates from bridges and tunnels to caves and waterfalls. Below in our article we will list all the necessary information you need, before you cross it for the first time.
Information and location
On the northern side of the valley of Kalavrita begins the gorge of Vouraikos, which has taken its name from the corresponding river. The river is located in Achaia and has a length of 37.5 km. It originates between the eastern extensions of Erymanthos and the western ones of Helmos. The impressive ravine created by the river is about 22 km long. The hiking trail that everyone follows, is located parallel to the railway line of the famous Cog Railway and is marked as the European Trail E4. The most beautiful part, according to many, is the route between the picturesque village of Zachloros and Diakoptos.
You can go to Zachlorou by train and from there start your journey, as we did. This is essentially the part where the gorge is 13 km long. However, there is the possibility of descending the entire route which is 20 km or the shortest at 13 km. This route has also been described as the most spectacular railway line in the Balkans.
It takes about 6 hours to get off and about 7-8 hours to get up, if you do not choose to go up by train. The above times obviously differ depending on the physical condition of the group you went with.
What is certain is that the route alone will not leave you indifferent. As mentioned above, along the way you will see imposing slopes, waterfalls, impressive tunnels and you will walk on the lines of Odontotos! Also, as your descent into the gorge evolves several times you will succeed and the train that runs its routes.
Along the way many choose to stop at various picnic spots in nature.
In addition, the trail is open all year round except in cases of emergency weather conditions. Every year on the second Sunday of May, the pan-Hellenic passage of Vouraikos takes place, with the participation of hundreds of climbers and hikers.
Read our article on Canyoning here.
According to the legends, the gorge took its name from Voura, the daughter of Eliki and Ion, whom Hercules loved. According to the legend, Hercules opened the gorge with his sword, cutting the rock in two. The reason: to be able to pass, to reach the sea and to meet Voura.
Historically, the valley of Vouraikos was a lake, as well as the whole area around Kalavrita. Its waters found a way out to the sea in the long run and created this beautiful gorge. In March 1986, the routes of Odondotos that crossed the gorge were implemented. The steep slope of this line did not allow the movement of a conventional train. Thus, between the rails was placed a toothed shaft that allowed the operation of a mechanism which raised the rails from sea level to the station of Kalavrita, at an altitude of 750 meters. It has the shortest line width in Europe (0.75 m).
In the square of the settlement of Diakopto you will see the old railway station and the old locomotive of Odontotos, which was called “Mountzouris”.
What to have with me
The Crossing in the Vouraikos Gorge lasts as mentioned above about 6 hours. It is undoubtedly a special experience for hikers in good physical condition. Most people obviously prefer the descent rather than the ascent in the direction of Odondotos, which is much more demanding due to the large slope.
Regardless of the route you choose, it is good to have the following:
- Mountaineering shoes, to keep your feet stable and to avoid any risk of injury.
- A pair of hiking sticks for less strain on your knees.
- A backpack to have with you the necessary things you want such as food, clothes, etc. You can find our favorite backpack here.
- Action camera for more intense moments or a simple DSLR to capture your every moment inside the gorge. (Be warned that whoever has a drone with them, the signal in the gorge is bad. A child from our team had lost it in the mountains.)
- Clothing depends on the season you will visit the gorge. There is no contact with water, so you do not need something waterproof.
If at some point there is intense fatigue and you cannot continue there is always the option at the next stop to take the train that will bring you back to Diakopto. The route through the train is equally impressive and unique. And less tedious!
You can book the ticket for the train electronically and maybe a little earlier as the tickets, especially on weekends and in the morning hours, are sold out quickly.
You can even see in advance the itineraries and stops inside the gorge to have a general picture.
The best time to visit the Vouraikos gorge is spring. The temperatures are mild and the landscape is magnificent, as the river is full.
For any information you can call below:
Diakopto Station 2691 043206
Kalavrita Station 2692 022245