Taygetus and the Mani

  • Dropping into the Viros gorge - © William Mackesy
  • Mystras portico - © William Mackesy
  • Taygetus, Profitas Ilias   - © Flickr user Aris Gionis
  • Cape Tainaron, looking back north from just above the lighthouse 2 - © William Mackesy
  • Cape Tainaron, looking back north from just above the lighthouse - © William Mackesy
  • Chapel where Bruce Chatwin"s ashes are buried, above Viros Gorge - © William Mackesy
  • Kalderimi hairpins down itno the Viros Gorge - © William Mackesy
  • Kalderimi to Anavriti, looking back - © William Mackesy
  • Kalderimi to Anavriti, looking up the gorge - © William Mackesy
  • Kalderimi to Anavriti, up the gorge - © William Mackesy
  • Kalderimi to Anavriti - © William Mackesy
  • Laconian Plain from Mystras - © William Mackesy
  • Mani tower-village - © William Mackesy
  • Mystras heart - © William Mackesy
  • Mystras, looking down on centre from the castle - © William Mackesy
  • Mystras - © William Mackesy
  • North across ancient city bay, Cap Tainaron - © William Mackesy
  • Path above Viros Gorge - © William Mackesy
  • Viros Gorge, Sofiros monastery, deserted - © William Mackesy
  • © Flickr user Costavarino
  • © Flickr user Costavarino
  • © Flickr user Costavarino
  • © Flickr user Costavarino
  • Viros Gorge, 10 year old with Profitis Ilias summit - © William Mackesy

Key information: Taygetus and the Mani

    • The Taygetus range and the Mani have extraordinary walking potential and variety.
    • From a multi-day high range traverse and a highest peak bag, to culturally and historically rich meanders in the foothills and by the coast. Gorgeous.

Walkopedia rating

(Top 100)
  • Walkopedia rating91.5
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest14.5
  • Human interest14
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating91.5

Vital Statistics

  • Maximum Altitude: Your choice
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Taygetus, Profitas Ilias   - © Flickr user Aris Gionis

WALK SUMMARY

This page gives an overview of the extraordinarily rich walking potential of the Mani and the Taygetus range together, as they are inextricably related and you are likely to want to walk in both once you have got to the area.

Taygetus (or Taygetos) is, confusingly, both a range running 100km or so north-south to form the backbone of the Peloponnese's central southern peninsula and the mountain which is its highest peak. It separates the northern ("outer") Mani to its west from the Laconian plain south of Sparta, and plays host to the "inner" Mani. Its impenetrable heights have been a major factor in the Mani's historic remoteness and isolation. The serrated Pendadhaktilo ridge (named because of its appearance of having five knuckles) constitutes its core, with peaks over 2,000m culminating in that instantly recognizable landmark, the often snow-striated pyramid of 2,407m Profitis Ilias (or Mt Taygetus).

Taygetus is an extraordinarily wild and rough limestone range, which rises sharply in steep foothills riddled with gorges. It becomes lower as it approaches Cape Tainaron (Matapan), where it finally subsides, exhausted, into the Aegean. Its peaks are tough, harsh broken limestone, its slopes covered in attractive and interesting scrub and forests, as well as areas of terracing and olive groves, evidence of the hardscrabble lives of its inhabitants. The springtime wild flowers are famous, with good cause as Walkopedia can attest. We reckon you will need to add to your estimated walk timings to allow for due admiration of nature's works of art.

What people the Mani's inhabitants were: fiercely independent, to the extent they didn't convert to Christianity until the Ninth Century and remained effective outside the control of the Ottoman Empire; manic feuders whose villages sprouted thickets of tower-houses. Their reputation was as wild and backward near-tribesmen. They were shaped by the difficult terrain and Greek history - successive waves of refugees have added to the mix here and left the area surprisingly crowded for such unco-operative land.

Their villages are scattered across the foothills and middle slopes, many now nearly deserted but for the old and holiday homers, who keep the local economies going. They are linked by a network of kalderimi, old paved mule tracks, which are a hugely atmospheric testament to the area's busy past and make for glorious walking.

Terrestrial wildlife is sadly limited as a result of hunting, but wild boar are around. There is a wealth of bird life, though, as the area is on migratory routes, and the birdsong can often be gorgeous.

There is a feast of great walks here, from multi-dayers attacking the high ground to short explorations of the fascinating lower slopes.

The high ridge is only accessible May to October unless you are prepared for snow; and be ready for storms and difficult weather at any time of year. There are all sorts of ways of tackling the upper slopes: here are the best (or best known, anyway)...

-The Pendadhaktilo ridge is the centre of the range, and a traverse of it must be the most exciting walk in the area, albeit a tough and demanding hike. It can be done in 2 days if you get transport to roadheads up the mountain, but taking 4 days to walk in and out is ideal, as the slopes contain magical walking it would be negligent not to enjoy having got here. See our Mt Taygetus and the Pendadhaktilo ridge walk page for details.

-Profitis Ilias: you can bag the range's highest peak as a day walk, albeit a tough slog (900m-worth) on rough, harshly beautiful slopes. The views from the top (on a good day!) are as you would expect, though: marvellous. See our Mt Taygetus and thePendadhaktilo ridge walk page for details.

{C}-{C}Tsarkos (N Pendadhaktilo ridge): climbable from Anavriti in a day (6-7hrs). A superb day for those who want to hit the high ground and experience the magnificence of the high range without the struggle and organizational issues with the traverse of the ridge. See our Mt Taygetus and the Pendadhaktilo ridge walk page for details.

{C}-{C}The E4 long distance route runs along the eastern slopes, from Mystras to Ghythio, on the middle-to-upper slopes for much of the time. It would make a marvellous multi-dayer, or you could make a number of excellent day walks along stretches of it.

 

Day walks on the Outer Mani (western flanks of the Taygetus):

A multitude - try:

Pigadotiko Bridge

Sotiranika to Kardamyli

Viros Gorge

Lower Viros Gorge

Kardamyli to Foneas Cave

Day walks on the eastern flanks of the Taygetus:

Again, a multitude - try:

Mystras

Hills Above Mystras

Tracks to Anavriti, Soha, Phaneronami

The Rasina Valley

Deep Mani (the south):

Again, wonderful walking, in bulk.Try:

Itilo to Bay of Diros

Polemitis to Aplya Cove

Kionia

Southern Tower Villages

Cape Tainaron

This can be tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared.

Sunflower's Landscapes of the Southern Peloponnese has 30 walks, including many of these walks. The Mountains of Greece - Cicerone, Tim Salmon with Michael Cullen is, as so often, the book you need if you are aiming for the high ground. Find relevant books by using our Amazon search function:

Find these and other books on Amazon.

Have a look at TripAdvisor - there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on guides, places to hike and places to stay.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Practical Information

Books on this walk (support us: find books using our Amazon search box)  

Suggest books and maps

Find these and other books on Amazon, using our handy search box:

Books on this walk (support us: find these and many more using our Amazon search box)          

The Mountains of Greece – Cicerone, Tim Salmon with Michael Cullen: The Mountains of Greece – Cicerone, Tim Salmon with Michael Cullen is, as so often, the book you need if you are aiming for the high ground.

Landscapes of the Southern Peloponnese – Sunflower/Michael Cullen. Covers a lot of the walks mentioned here.

Walking in the Mani – Matt Dean. Recommended, but not reviewed by Walkopedia.

Other books (support us: find books using our Amazon search box)

Taygetus – Triantafykos Adanakapolous and Penelope Matsouka

Blue Guide Greece – the Mainland – Blue Guides: detailed guides for those interested in the history and culture

Greece – Lonely Planet: reasonable basic information on the area.

Greece - Rough Guides

Mani – Travels in the Southern Peloponnese – Patrick Leigh Fermor

A Concise History of Greece (Cambridge Concise Histories) 3rd Edition - Richard Clogg

Find these and other books on Amazon.

Maps

The Anavazi series of maps are the only walking-quality maps, and [should] cover this area.

They should be available locally.

The basic maps in the guidebooks are useful.

Stanfords: A good online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

Spring and Autumn. Spring for the wild flowers. Autumn is generally good. High summer gets very hot. Winter (Nov - March) can get very cold and wet.

Weather

Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides.

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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 Kardamyli (Kalamata) to the west, Mystras (Sparta) to the east and Ghythio to the south-east are the main local towns/cities.

Most people fly in to Athens, or Kalamata if aiming for the southern Peloponnese only. You can fly internally in Greece, but most people (who are renting a car at least) tend to get about from those hubs.  Skyscanner is an excellent (relatively new) site for finding the flights you need; otherwise try Lastminute.com, or look at what’s available on TripAdvisor.

There are plentiful buses in Greece, and it is viable to get to most places this way.

Car hire is reasonably easy, and driving is reasonably straightforward. Local taxi services generally exist in the towns, can (eg) take to or pick you up from a roadhead, or transport luggage.

Route(s)

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See Walk Summary above.

[Note: insert here any suitable route map that has been found. Can do link if appropriate.]

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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·     Mountain weather: possible at any time of year. Come prepared.

·     Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself. Water can be scarce, so make sure you know what is available and carry enough.

·     Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have significant difficulties with heights.

·     Dangerous animals, including snakes, wild dogs, scorpions and other stinging/biting insects and plants. Take all appropriate precautions.

·     This is remote country: help may be hard to get if things go wrong.

·     Risky rivers need to be crossed – Prepare carefully and only cross in the recommended way.

·      Canyon dangers: canyons can be lethal, particularly as a result of flash floods. Assess and prepare for all risks on those walks involving canyons. In particular, check the weather carefully and don’t go after rain or if it is possible.

·     Dogs: esp if guarding flocks. Walk quietly away from them. Don’t run if they approach you, face them and brandish a stick or throw a stone in front of them.

·     Bees: pass any hives silently, covering your head and body.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do these walks independently, but you will need to be self-sufficient on some of the multi-dayers, so come appropriately prepared.

Guided

Somepeople form or join organised/supported expeditions when doing multi-day walks, or doing multiple day walks, and travelling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages.

Choosing a suitable guide or company is of course vital, and the guidebooks contain good advice in this regard. If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed – including how you will eat and the importance of avoiding illness, as well as overnighting and, of course, remuneration!

Expedition organisers include:

Inntravel

www.greeceonfoot.com

www.islandwalking.com

www.trekking.gr/outdoor-holidays-in-greece/destination/peloponnese/byzantine-tour-in-mani    

http://www.greentours.co.uk/Europe/THE-PELOPONNESE-2015/

Check TripAdvisor for some reviews of this walk and walk organisers which may prove helpful.

PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise. [leave in unless enough sites in our list]

Accommodation

The general Greece guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation. There are various relevant accommodation websites.

See what the commentary on TripAdvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as their reviews can be “interested”.

A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com.

If you’re on a budget, Hostelbookers usually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation.

Last but not least, http://www.thehotelguru.com has a growing selection of interesting, non-standard, carefully-chosen places to stay.

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Other information and tips

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

  • Have a look at TripAdvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on this area.
  • www.wikipedia.org . As usual, a good starting place.
  • Try www.flickr.com for pictures of this walk.

  •  

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Greece has a huge variety of great walks. There is likely to be a good walk within range wherever you may be.

Other activities

Mountain biking, climbing, some white water rafting.

Culture, history and people watching.

Coastal/sea fun and chilling.

Mystras portico - © William Mackesy

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Viros Gorge, 10 year old with Profitis Ilias summit - © William Mackesy...
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