Exploration of Chelmos: Ski Center - Aristarchos - Neraidorachi - Psili Korifi - Mavrolimni - Waters of Styx
One of the most beautiful trips in Kalavryta is an exploration of Mount Chelmos on foot. We propose the following excursion. Please note that this excursion can only take place once the snow has melted, in other words beginning in June.
We ascend to the Ski Resort of Kalavryta on Mount Chelmos. From the Kalavryta Ski Resort's parking lot, we turn right just before the chalet. We continue for 5 kilometers on a wide, passable dirt road until we see on our right, below the road, a stone structure known as the birds’ fountain (vrysi tu puliu). Immediately after that, the road splits. The left-hand fork takes us 300 meters to the Avgo (or Egg) Pass (at 2,100 meters altitude) and the mountain refuge of V. Leontopoulos. We continue straight ahead, then turn left on the next gravel road (after 1,000 meters). From here the road climbs and ends in 3 kilometers at the observatory of Chelmos and the impressive Aristarchos telescope.
The Chelmos Observatory with the Aristarchos telescope is situated on the second highest peak of Chelmos, Neraidorachi, at 2,330 meters. (The highest is the Psili Korifi, 20 meters higher.) The Aristarchos is considered one of the most technologically advanced telescopes on the continent. It was established here because the area has one of the lowest levels of light pollution in Europe.
From the Chelmos Observatory, a 650 meter footpath starts toward Neraidorachi, at 2,330 meters the second highest peak of Chelmos. The footpath passes next to the structure of the ski resort's lift. The Neraidorachi is one of the most impressive and most beautiful Greek mountain peaks. The view of the surrounding bare slopes and peaks of Chelmos and the Aristarchos telescope is impressive, and this is perhaps one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the Peloponnese.
At 2,350 meters, the Psili Korifi, which means “high peak,” is the highest peak in the Chelmos range. We get to it after a 30 to 40 minute ascent, which is moderate at first but more demanding as we approach the peak, covering a 100 meter difference in altitude. Driving up from the Chelmos ski resort toward the Chelmos Observatory in our vehicle, we park at the point where a steep slope begins. At the end of that road on the left, there is an information kiosk for the Chelmos-Vouraikos National Park. (From the kiosk, the road continues to the left toward the Aristarchos telescope.) From the point where we stop, we walk in the opposite direction (to the right, to the southeast). We can see Psili Korifi rising up before us (to the left diagonally). The images that we see from here are so impressive that words fail to describe them. The purity of the air and the clarity of the atmosphere help us better capture these images with our cameras.
To the right of the information kiosk, the road goes downhill toward a sheepfold. This location is called Ano Lithari, and just before the sheepfold we find the beginning of the path to Mavrolimni and the Waters of Styx (Idata tis Stygos).
Mavrolimni is a seasonal alpine lake (the only one in the Peloponnese) of glacial origin. It has water when the snow on the surrounding mountains melts. From a distance it looks like a more or less triangular soccer field or baseball diamond! The footpath going down is relatively passable and takes about 30 minutes. It requires care, as in some parts the terrain is unsound and slippery. We descend 150 meters in altitude, so the return is a little more difficult.
The path that heads to Mavrolimni also continues to the famous Waters of the Oceanid Styx, or Idata Stygos, the source of the Krathis River (for a total route that takes 60 to 75 minutes). The waters were said to be healing for all living beings apart from the gods. It was into this water that Thetis dipped Achilles, whose entire body then became invulnerable, apart from the heel that she was holding. This is a landscape worthy of the myth. We can enjoy the view of the frightening rock with its waterfall (with just a little water today), with the Krathis Gorge and the Tessera Elata in the background.