Chóra - Apíkia - Katakaléď - Vourkotí and back

Evaluation: Again, this is one of the most beautiful hikes on the island of Andros, because of the marvellous trail between Chóra and Apíkia, the wonderful kalderími between Katakaléď and Vourkotí, the great location of Vourkotí and the fantastic views along the way. Therefore, this hike gets a maximum evaluation of ****.
[Updated by Raymond on May the 14th, 2011, on September the 30th, 2014 and on May the 6th, 2016.]

Estimated time: The hike till Apíkia takes a little over one hour and then it takes about 1h20 actual hiking time to get to Vourkotí. For the way back you should count on another two hours. Going to and fro this means that the actual hiking time will take about 4h20 – taking into account some necessary pauses, this day will turn out to be a rather long hiking day. You can shorten the climb by taking the bus to Apíkia; in May 2005 there was only one bus per day, namely at 8.30am.

Route description: (0h00) For all hikes leaving from Chóra you have to depart from the main street near the large church of the Panagía tis Kímisis, which is visible from all over town (for more details you might have a look at the description of the short hike in Chóra itself). For the hikes in the direction of Apíkia and Vourkotí you have to follow the main street inland for a short while (to the right when facing the church). You then have to take the first street off the right, the Odós Stamátis Empiríkou. Via a staircase of about 50 steps you thus descend until you get to a promenade with a couple of restaurants; you are now close to the mouth of a small river, where the Nimborió-quarter begins. You cross the bridge – on the parking lot on the right side, there is an information board of Andros Routes – and  you follow the asphalt road for 1 more minute, between the palm trees. After 1 minute you take a left and you walk on the wide white stairs (walking sign to Apíkia 3,2 km / Bistis tower 5 km / Katakaléď 4,9 km / Vourkotí  7,1 km + [2]).

The hiking sign at the beginning of walk [2].

Then you continue straight ahead on the concrete ramp and follow the street [2], until you arrive at a cross street, where you go to the right (signpost to Vourkotí  2 1/2 hours + [2]). Almost immediately a beautiful staircase begins along a wall [2].

A look back, on the beautiful path from Chóra to Apíkia.

Later on, the really beautiful trail is sometimes 3-4 metres large and it climbs gradually above Chóra and the sea, for about 9 minutes.

Panoramic view on Chóra.

You then get to a concrete road and you follow it, while describing a curve to the left [2], but after about one minute this road becomes again a very nice trail. 

(0h13) Another 4 minutes later you get to an asphalt road off the right, but you follow the ancient staircase going up on the left [2]. You continue on a large staircase, overgrown with flowers. Some 4 minutes later this staircase crosses an asphalt road - on the left you can see a commemoration plate from 1907 for the "great patriot" Alkibiádis Empiríkos, “because he created a road from the town to there”. 

In Spring, a lot of flowers cover the path...

(0h21) You already have a great panoramic view on Chóra, but you have to continue climbing up on the staircase [2]; after 7 minutes you pass an (open) chapel with a terrace and stone benches, you cross the asphalt road and you continue, via a newly constructed staircase (hiking sign + [2]). You continue going up, towards the hill crest. Over here you can really admire the walls, built in a typical Andriotic way:  these walls are made out of regular stones alternated with large, flat schist-plates; this method of construction was probably used to save building materials and time, but it also resulted in a very aesthetic unity. Have also a look at the construction of the trail itself – with the foundation stones piled up vertically!

The typical walls on Andros.

The nice pavement of the path.

The side of the monopáti.

(0h36) After another 8-9 minutes, the stone pavement of the trail has basically disappeared – it is quite likely that the stones have been used to build the walls in the neighbourhood. You cross another broad asphalt road, leading to Agia Marína, and you go straight ahead (hiking sign and [2]). You are now on the crest of the hill and in front of you you discover the beautiful, green valley of Apíkia (with the remarkable Sáriza-hotel); all the way high up the mountain slope you can distinguish the village of Katakaléď, on the right there is the village of Steniés and on the far right the bay of Giália.

View on Apíkia.

Since the gravel road you crossed a couple of minutes ago, your trail thus has become a gravel road as well, which you follow for about 6 minutes – for some moments, you see above you and to the left the big monastery of Agia Marina; near the driveway to a house (gate), you keep to the left. Three minutes later, you get in front of an open gate, but the trail continues next to this gate (sign). Some 3-4 minutes later this beautiful trail splits up and you go down on the right (sign). 
For a short while you now walk above the road, which you then cross (hiking signs). You continue going down on the opposite side [2] and after 2 minutes you thus get to a really beautiful spot. Midst large trees you see an arched bridge over a deep river with streaming water.

The shadowed path, just before you reach the bridge underneath Apíkia.

The bridge near Apíkia.

(0h55) You then proceed on a paved staircase and a concrete ramp, you cross the asphalt road (sign) and you continue on the other side on a concrete staircase [2].
A little further down the trail splits up – straight ahead (on the right of the blue iron gate) hike [8] continues to Steniés and the beach of Giália
(hiking sign + [8]).
For now you take a left first (the continuation of hike [2]) and via a staircase you arrive at the asphalt road, high up in the village.

[Here, you could continue to the left to the waterfalls of Pithára (hiking sign "Waterfalls" + [2a]) - see the walk Chóra - Apíkia - Pithára and back.]

You go right for a short while (hiking sign + [2], with the big hotel Pigí Sáriza in front of you, and on the left-hand side of the hotel you go up the shining white staircase (hiking sign Vourkotí 3,9 km + [2]) until you see the famous Sáriza-well on the left in front of you. One still can read the date 1787. The water of this well is famous and it is bottled in a small factory a little further down in the village. (1h04)

The Sáriza-well in Apíkia.

[Opposite the hotel, there is since August 2013 the café-restaurant "Tou Parianoú", with nice music and a very good espresso...]

(1h04) You continue straight ahead on hike [2]: you thus go further upward, but at a kind of tower (with also the school on the right and some 50 m further on the church) you DO NOT proceed towards the church. Instead, you go to the left (further a [2]) and later on you keep also to the left [2]; in this way you go up all the time on the concrete staircase.
After a little over 6 minutes you get to a bend in the asphalt road; you go to the right for a few metres, but you take a right again on a concrete staircase almost immediately (at a mirror). One minute later on, at a large concrete block and to the left of a small concrete bridge, you have to watch out again: you DO NOT continue to the left, but you go straight ahead on a paved trail – you can also see a worn away red dot.
At first the path continues horizontally, but quite soon you reach a nice, old staircase, which climbs up to the water tank, a concrete construction behind a fence. You leave two trails off the left and a little further down you go through an iron gate and you get to a track – this track runs to a dead end at this point. It has now been 14 minutes since you left from Apíkia.

(1h18) You follow this flat track in northern direction; after some 3 minutes you see a staircase in front of you. At the same time you can also spot the first trail marker [2], indicating that you have to continue on the gravel road, amidst a lot of oak trees and Mediterranean maple trees. Also at the junction of another track on the left you have to proceed straight ahead until you get to a depression in the road underneath a large plane tree. At this point you go up on the left, on a narrow path marked by means of the number [2] and a sign VOURKOTH. Almost immediately you take a staircase on the right, running along a newly constructed chapel (with a well). Later on, you pass an old well and you keep going up higher and higher. Some 150 m further you take a left, of course, and you continue meandering upwards on the marvellous staircase.

(1h24) After 5-6 minutes you get a great view on Apíkia with the monastery of Agia Marína above. Later on, the view gets even grander, so that you also begin to see the town of Chóra and the Panachrántou-monastery. About half an hour after your departure from Apíkia you reach a flat part with a wall on the right-hand side – you are now on a kind of balcony with a truly magnificent view on the entire coast line.

(1h34) Pretty soon you go up a staircase on the left again and you thus continue meandering upward – this is really a very beautiful stretch and you have left the trees behind you already. You cross a nice little bridge made out of flat stones and after 6 minutes you reach a couple of houses with the inevitable junk; at this point you get to a concrete road. 

A little bridge just before Katakaléď.

DO NOT proceed in the direction of the chapel on your right-hand side. Instead, you should cross the road via a rocky slope or via a small white staircase until you get to a modern bridge. You go right and near some ugly garages you take a left on a gravel road. Immediately, you find a staircase on your right (hiking sign + [2]). As soon as possible you leave the junk and the ugly buildings of Katakaleď behind you!

(1h40) For quite a number of minutes you now follow a meandering kalderími between small bushes, on a usually windy and bare mountain slope. After some 10 minutes you go through a fastened wooden gate and you get to another flight of steps. Slightly further down the path gets narrower and it runs along a wall (built with the stones of the ancient trail?). Sometimes you have to move away from the wall in order to stay on track and finally you curve away from the wall entirely, in the direction of a depression in the hill crest on your left-hand side. You arrive at this kind of pass after 55 minutes actual hiking time all together since Apíkia: the panoramic views on Chóra, on the bay further down and on the large bay of Kórthi are really fantastic!

The path on your way to Vourkotí.

(1h59) On the other side of the pass you go into the interior again and in front of you, you discover the town of Vourkotí, midst the green terraces.

Panoramic view of the terraces near Vourkotí.

 You descend for about 7 minutes via a nice rock trail until you reach a gravel road, which you follow going down on the right. After another 5 minutes you get to the asphalt road which you follow to the left (hiking sign).

(2h11) Some years ago, you had to watch out at this point: you can see 2 electricity poles on the left of the road, but after two minutes, at the first electricity pole on the RIGHT of the road you have to look for the trail – this trail was partly destroyed when the road was constructed, but now it is perfectly clear again and there is a hiking sign and a [2]. Exactly at the wire that supports the pole you descend to the right; very soon this trail turns into a staircase. You descend quickly into the green valley, you pass through a gate in reinforcing steel [2] and after some 5 minutes you get to a marvellous bridge over a stony bed of a river with plenty of water (on the 15th of May 2005 and also on the 30th of September 2014). Frederick Belton wrote in May 2013 that there was here a large landslide completely covering the path, but now all is OK again...

Via some concrete steps you go up [2] and you get to a first house. You continue on a horizontal stretch and by curving to the right [2] you arrive at two small stone bridges over two little valleys - Vourkotí is located at the confluence of a number of valleys and there is streaming water everywhere. In earlier days there used to be lots of agriculture on the terraces.  

You cross the first bridge – directly on the left there is a staircase going up to the church and to the ancient school – which is now a kind of community centre. If you are looking for a nice picnic spot, you can first go to this community centre (there are even some picnic tables on the inner court) and then you can return to the bridges. (2h22)

The little inner court of the former school of Vourkotí.

If you continue straight ahead, you veer to the right [2] and get to the second bridge - with a well and lots of streaming water; you pass also underneath the deserted kafeníon (from far away you could already distinguish the large letters KAFENEION, painted on the outer wall!). Through the windows you can still see the tables and the chairs and even a jukebox.

The deserted kafeníon in Vourkotí.

Immediately thereafter you get to a junction: the staircase straight ahead goes up alongside a beautiful gutter with water ([2] and [6]; it continues through the village till the "exochikó kéntro" (restaurant) next to the asphalt road. At this point you could go straight ahead to continue on hike [2]. This hike would bring you to Arnás, Katákilos and Batsí, all the way on the other side of the island – see the hike Vourkotí-Batsí. 

[If you take a right at the junction down in the village, you can follow a small street [6] leading to the beginning of the hike to Agios Nikólaos and the beach of Achla – see the hike Vourkotí-Agios Nikólaos-Apíkia-Chóra.] 

Today we opt for a return route following exactly the same trajectory as the way out – the panoramic views will be even more beautiful in the sunlight of the late afternoon! The trail itself is probably quite obvious, also because of the trail markers [2], but we will still give the most important directions in telegram style.  

- from the “centre” (consisting of only ten houses) of Vourkotí it takes about 3 minutes to walk back to the bridge, on the other side of the bridge you keep to the left [2]. Past the gate, you keep to the right [2] and climb the nice staircase that becomes a path
- it takes 6 minutes to the asphalt road, where you go left
(sign), after 2 minutes you take a right on the gravel road (sign Katakaléď et [2])

Hiking signs near Vourkotí... 

- you stay on the gravel road for 5 minutes and just past the curve to the right your trail goes to the left sharply (there is a red arrow on a stone)
- it takes 4-5 minutes to the beginning of the “pass”: at this point Vourkotí disappears – the islands on the left that are visible when the weather is clear could be Chíos and Mitilíni, according to some one from Vourkotí!
- 3 minutes on a nice flat trail to cross the pass (at an altitude of 580 metres) – and then you are overwhelmed by the view on Chóra! Beyond the island of Andros you can distinguish the island of Tínos with Xóbourgo, "nearby" you can spot the real fortress of Agia Marína (Apíkia, located in front of this fortress, is still invisible)
- after a narrow stretch of trail you reach the beautiful staircase and now you can already see Apíkia deep underneath

The kalderími descending to Katakaléď.

- you go through an iron gate and then you proceed on the great meandering kalderími for many minutes, till you get to the junk of Katakaléď: the staircase gets to a little road, where you take a left for some moments. Next to the garages, you descend the white staircase with 23 steps to the right, you then take a left in order to cross the little road and you see the continuation of the kalderími (hiking sign and [2])

The hiking sign in Katakaléď - with a great view to Chóra...

- 4 minutes on this kalderími and then keeping to the right along a wall: you then plunge into the green bushes
- you follow a marvellous stretch of kalderími for about 9 minutes: Apíkia seems much closer now. You should have a look at the construction of the sides of the path and the nicely laid out curves

The nicely laid out curves on the path between Vourkotí and Apíkia.

After 9 minutes you pass the wells and the chapel, you then keep to the left in order to reach the gravel road
- you go right and after 4 minutes you go straight ahead through an iron gate (no trail marker [2])
- at first the trail is rather narrow, later on it is nicely paved; after 6 minutes, near the first houses, you go straight ahead at a large boulder, until you get to the asphalt
- you take a left on the asphalt, but almost immediately you go left into a concrete lane; you take a lot of concrete steps, keeping to the right until you pass the Sáriza-well and you arrive at the asphalt road.

[Maybe, you would like to have a rest in Apíkia? Opposite the Sáriza-well there is the pleasant outdoor terrace of the hotel; more to the left and a little down you can find the tavern O Tássos, and finally, when you take a left on the asphalt road, in the direction of the small factory where the bottles with water are filled, you can also see the café-bar Zefyrus (where there are also rooms to let). But in the month of May all of these places were closed.]

Also the way back to Chóra follows the same trajectory as the way out – it should thus be enough to only give these brief directions:
- on the asphalt road you go right
[2], but after 10 metres already, you go left on the concrete staircase (hiking sign and [2] + [8])
- after
about 3 minutes you get to the T-junction: on the left hike number [8] leads to the beach of Giália, but you descend on the right towards the asphalt road (hiking sign + [2])
- you cross the road towards the right (hiking sign and [2]) and you continue to go down on the concrete slope – very soon this becomes a beautiful old trail
- 2 minutes later on you cross the green valley via a nice bridge; the water in this valley comes from the Pithára and further down also from Evrousés (this small river is called "Potamós toon Gialioón" and it thus leads to the beach of Giália)
- you go up the old staircase and after 2 minutes you cross the asphalt road again towards the right (sign "Chóra")
- 3 minutes further you reach a junction, where you go left and where you continue to go up
- after 3 minutes you get to the gravel road, which you follow straight ahead for 6-7 minutes: you should definitely have a look again at the marvellous wall with the large schist-plates and you should also admire the great view over the valley!
- when you reach the asphalt road you continue straight ahead on the old trail on the opposite side; you then get a beautiful view on Chóra
- you proceed on a wonderful kalderími for half an hour: after 7-8 minutes you cross an asphalt road; some 13-14 minutes later you get to a road and again 16 minutes later on the old trail curves to the right – the ancient tiles are interrupted only twice, but otherwise the old kalderími continues for about 27 minutes, which is rather exceptional!
- in Chóra you arrive at some concrete, you go left till you reach the water side of Nimborió, near the bridge.

If you have to go back to the centre of town you have to follow the beach for about 8 minutes. You then cross the bridge on the left and via the restaurants and the staircase of 53 steps you thus reach the main street of Chóra.

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