Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chorefto-Agios Ioannis (Αi Giannis)

Agii Saranda beach, view from the south

Distance: 7,5 km
Duration: 3,5 hours (walking time 3 h)
Altitude: from 0 m. (Ηorefto) to 190 m. to 0 m. (Ai Giannis)
Total ascent/descent: 420 m. 
Signing: red marks, a few round yellow signs
Drinking water on walk: Panagia Faneromeni chapel
Download GPS track:  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc


       Τhis route connects the two main tourist beaches of Pelion`s eastern coast, Chorefto and Ai Giannis, passing from another three beaches that lie in between (Agii Saranda, Banikas, Plaka). It is not entirely coastal though, as it reaches a maximum altitude of 190 meters. 
Route B
           Starting from the camping at the south end of Chorefto beach, we walk uphill on the asphalt.  The original path`s course followed the earth road on the left, that eventually ends at a fenced grove.  Unfortunately, because of a landslide, the path section at that spot now has collapsed and disappeared, so we have to pass through the fence, but the owner objects and does not permit passing through his property. So, to avoid any trouble, we prefer to follow the asphalt uphill.
Agii Saranda, view from the north
          At the third turn of the asphalt, we head straight to guesthouse ''ENASTRON''. Walking on the right side of the building, we continue straight ahead on a path which soon joins an earth road. We head left and then to the right, and pass just under a summer hut on our left side. After that hut, the path is obvious and goes downhill to reach the narrow asphalt road leading to the beach of  Agii Saranda.
Agii Saranda beach (in February)
          Having reached the large sandy beach of Agii Saranda, we walk to the other end and just after the statue on the rock, next to the taverna on the right, we start walking on an earth road going uphill.
          After about seven hundred meters we reach a junction with a narrow road on a southerly direction and follow this to the left (attention!). Further down, at a sharp right bend of the road, we head straight on to find a surviving section of the old path and we soon get down to the quiet pebbly beach of Banikas.
On the surviving section of the old path to Banikas beach
          We cross the stream (called Mega Rema) that opens there to the sea. To our left is a deserted house next to the sea and to the right a renovated cottage.
Banikas beach
         At the end of the beach is a third cottage and we take the earth road starting from there going uphill.
Renovated cottage at Banikas
              Immediately at the junction, we take the narrow earth road to the left, passing just above the cottage leading to a grove. We keep climbing up close to the sea and at the upper edge of the grove we notice an unused concrete irrigation ditch. Following this, a few meters higher up we find the continuity of the path which ascends steeply. The path is overgrown by vegetation at some spots, so it is advisable to wear long trousers. Eventually we come to an olive grove and continue straight ahead uphill to the chapel of Agios Charalambos.
Agios Charalambos chapel
             Next to the chapel lies a wooden kiosk. We continue on the earth road and, after 150 meters at a right uphill turn of the road, watching on the left side (attention!), we find the continuity of the path. It goes down to cross a small stream and then opens to another earth road, on which we walk to the left. After another 100 meters, at a left downhill turn of the road (attention!) we find the path on the right.
       Further down, we join another earth road at a signed junction. Here it is highly recommended to continue on the road downhill for ten minutes, to reach the quiet  chapel of Panagia Faneromeni. Built on a rock just above the Aegean sea, this is an excellent and beautiful example of Pelion`s hidden treasures, an absolute gem. Take some time to relax in quiet and refresh drinking the cool water that comes from a spring through the rock.
Panagia Faneromeni chapel
       Retracing our steps  back to the road junction, we now head left (south) on the road and after 500 meters we reach a road sign, in Greek (ΠΑΡΑΛΙΑ ΠΛΑΚΑ).  At that point we head left towards the sea (to the east), walking downhill on a path/kalderimi. Some sections of the old kalderimi have survived and others have been rebuilt, but unfortunately not to the best standard (the flat stones that were used can be slippery when wet-attention!).
Plaka beach in summer
         We walk next to a kiosk with a fallen pole and soon end down to the excellent sandy beach Plaka, which, like Banikas, belong to the village Anilio. In the past this used to be a quiet, remote place -fortunately remains unaccessible by cars- but nowadays the bar-restaurant of Eden hotel nearby makes it more lively, by virtue of the loud dance music played all day in summer (thankfully not heard at the ends of the beach).
Plaka beach (in February)
       We continue along the beach to the south, pass over the rocks at the end of it and arrive finally to the tourist seaside settlement of Ai Giannis (Agios Ioannis).

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