Taygetus and the Mani

  • © Flickr user Costavarino
  • © Flickr user Costavarino
  • © Flickr user Costavarino
  • © Flickr user Costavarino

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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© Flickr user Costavarino

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:

 

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

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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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.

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

© Flickr user Costavarino

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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