Hiking around Donoússa
On a small island like Donoússa (16 km˛) it is possible to hike around
the entire circumference in a couple of hours. Leaving from Stavrós you
successively get to know the villages of Kalotarítissa (there are still
5 elderly inhabitants...), Mersíni and Messariá. It is a pity that the
ancient trails are often buried under broad gravel roads – roads that
are completely useless on this island without cars. This is especially a
problem in between Kalotarítissa and Messariá. Some great aspects of
this hike are that you get to know beautifully carved coasts and 4
magnificent bays, and that you get a taste of what real loneliness looks
like. Negative points are that you get to hike on gravel roads for a
couple of times and that the shortest way from Mersíni to Messariá
turns out to be a rather dangerous climb. But still, this hike gets an
Unless you stay at Donoússa, the best thing to do is to get to the
island by boat from Amorgós. This boat will almost definitely be the
Express Skopelítis, which leaves from Katápola basically every day at
6am. The boat stops in the village of Egiáli and brings you to Donoússa
in a little over two hours. It is quite likely that you will be able to
return to Amorgós at 7pm that same day – quite likely, because in the
course of the day the wind can rise and the Skopelítis can decide to
skip the stop in Donoússa. You therefore have to check the weather
forecast before you decide to make a day trip to Donoússa.
Route description: You depart from the harbour pier and walk in northern direction and on the left of the beach through the village of Stavrós – do not go up too much, but walk more or less horizontally until you get to the right hand side of the church of Timios Stavrós. You take the tiled street on the right of the medical centre (iatrío) and after 50 metres you go to the left up the paved staircase (there is a sign post to Kalotarítissa). You thus leave the village and arrive at a little gravel road. You go up slightly for about 5 minutes and you cross a “main road”. Straight ahead you then find a vague rocky trail, in the direction of a kind of windmill. About 50 metres further down this trail gets clearer when it runs in between walls. In between the walls this path curves to the left and it then reaches an open, rocky terrain. Stay close to the left wall and keep an eye on the parasol tree in front of you on the north eastern slope. After about 7 minutes you pass this tree; underneath you see a dry river bed. On the side of Stavrós you have a great view on Amorgós, on the other little Cyclades and on the larger island of Náxos.
View of the coast of Donoússa.
Higher up and more
obvious, the trail now goes up the hill side. It then continues almost
horizontally and just underneath the summit of the hill; the trail then
goes down again. You cross the valley and on the opposite side you
immediately go up again (do not stay in the valley!). You will then get
to the rocky wilderness of the new road, which blocks the entire valley.
Out of necessity you have to stay on this broad road; this road is
absolutely useless since there are almost no cars – besides, the road
is already collapsed in certain places. In this way you continue going
up in the direction of the pass. After 17 minutes hiking on this road
you get to a sharp curve to the left. Over there you find the remnants
of the old trail straight ahead. Later on you cross the road again, but
you can easily continue on the trail on the opposite side of the road.
The trail runs on the left hand side of the road and you can follow it
for a couple of minutes by walking in the direction of the 2nd and the
3rd electricity pole starting from the left. But on the pass underneath
the Papashill (at an altitude of 383 metres) you do have to climb on the
road again – in any case, this road runs to a dead end here and you
can wonder what will happen in the future.
At the curve,
underneath the biggest double electricity pole, you can still find the
old trail, fortunately. This trail continues, about halfway in between
the sea and the line of the new road above you. It then runs nicely in
between walls and after 8 minutes you get to a rocky triangle. Over
there you do not take a right towards the road, but you go straight
ahead. After about 50 metres, before the corner of a vegetable garden,
you do not go straight (this trail runs to a dead end at a well).
Instead, you take a left up the hill, on a vague path – the view on a
rocky bay with many gradations of blue is beautiful. Very soon you get
to the remnants of a kalderími, it is crumbled but easy recognizable
because of the retaining walls. After another 10 minutes you get to a
rocky spot where you go left in between two walls; finally however, you
will again reach the new road.
The path that follows the coast of Donoússa.
You now follow
this road for about 10 minutes: this is a large road where two trucks
could easily pass one another – and this road leads to a village
without cars and with 5 inhabitants…
Past the highest,
often most windy part of the road you go down for a little while, with a
view on Mersíni on the left hand side. However, at a sharp curve
of the road to the right you get behind the square building of a petrol
station. Over there
you try to find a way to descend in the direction of the first house of
the village. At this first house you see the beginning of a steep and
neglected staircase – on your way down you only meet chickens.
Past the village you curve to the right, still above the coast. You then
descend for another 5 minutes on a meandering concrete trail until you
reach a marvellous well under a large maple tree: there is a large basin
with a lot of water (in May 2003).
After a pause you walk back for about 10
metres and through a hole in the wall you go left onto a kind of fallow
terrain. On the left
of a small building (with a flashing light!) and on the right of a pole
with an electricity meter, you find a vague trail – above and
underneath there are terraces with traces of solar panels. The trail
curves to the left and descends somewhat; it then gets rather rocky and
goes further down in between crumbled walls. After 5 minutes, at a
parasol tree, the trail splits up and you go left.
[When going right
you would reach an alternative and extremely small beach, to the left of
the bay of Livádi. You get to a metal fence, which you follow to the
left for a little while. At the beginning of the wall you go through a
hole and in this way you get on a red-brown path, which you follow
downwards. Further on you get again to some metal wiring; at the end of
this wiring you descend somewhat in order to end up in between walls and
to the left of a pine tree. The rest of the trail is a little difficult,
but when walking on the right hand side of the walls you still reach the
beach quite easily. The water is crystal clear and you can go for a
relaxing swim since there is absolutely nobody. To continue the hike you
have to return to the crossing near the parasol tree – in about 10
By taking a left you can already see the beautiful beach of Livádi in front of you after 5 minutes. You descend another 8 minutes and also on this wonderful beach there is often nobody, especially off-season.
The beach of Livádi.
The next part of the hike, in between this beach of Livadi and the
hamlet of Messariá is fairly problematic. We have chosen for the most
direct way, with a climb from the beach to the stump of the windmill on
the crest of the hill – a beautiful but difficult scramble.
[If you think this
climb of 25 minutes is way too much, you can leave from the beach of Livádi and go back the way you came, via the road all the way to Mersíni.
Over there you can, near the church, take the gravel road - and
sometimes the monopáti next to the road - in the direction of Messariá
– until you get to this same sharp curve to the left…]
From the final
house of Messaria you go straight (not on the concrete to the left) and
already after 3 minutes you can see the double church of Panagía
appearing in front of you and then also the small harbour. The rocky
monopáti describes a wide curve in the direction of the harbour, with a
beautiful view on Náxos, on the little Cyclades and on Amorgós. On
this beautiful trail, with sometimes the obvious remnants of the kalderími you descend fairly quickly for about 18 minutes – on the
left you can also see the beach of Kéndros in front of you. You get to
the road, you follow the curve to the right for a while and then, after
20 metres, you take the vague road to the left, which leads to Kéndros.
After 20 metres you go right and up, on the narrow monopáti, on the
left of the modern road. Some 5 minutes later you have to clamber to the
road again, but another 80 metres further on you can leave the gravel
road again and go up towards the double arch of the church. At last,
some 20 metres before the Agia Panagía you will find the broad monopáti
on the right, which goes down in between walls. This monopáti soon turns
into a concrete path, still in between walls, and after about 8 minutes
you arrive on the beautiful beach, on the left hand side of the harbour.
You then have to walk for 2 more minutes to the tavern of Nikitas
Markoulis, where you can spend the rest of the afternoon and early
evening. You can eat something on this terrace; it is near to the
harbour so you will be able to see the Express Skopelítis approaching
long before its arrival.
[If you stay on
Donoússa for a longer period you can turn this long hike into two
shorter trips: one trip up and down via the same route to Kalotarítissa,
and a trip to Messariá and Mersíni, where you can descend to the beach
of Livádi. ]