Evaluation:
This is the longest
hike that one can do on Irakliá: it first leads up to the cave of Agios
Ioánnis (see also the shorter walk to the cave and Panagiá), it
continues via Chárakas to the bay of Vourkariá and then returns to Agios
Geórgios. You cross in this way the entire island following the walks
[7], [4], [3], [5] and [6].
This walk is too long for a one day trip from Amorgós, it is only
possible if you lodge on the island itself. This hike deserves
the maximum of ****.
[27 September 2015.]
[The
translation of this walk was
made with some help of Google translate  so, please, do not mind the
mistakes...]
Estimated
time: You
need 1h45 to get to
the cave, in actual walking time (AWT); the lonely path until the bay of
Vourkariá takes 50 minutes. The return to Agios Athanásios takes about
55 minutes, always in AWT, and you finally will need another 45 minutes
until Agios Geórgios. The actual walking time thus amounts to a total of
4h15 – we walked from 10am to 5.30pm, a total time of 7h30...
Route description:
(0h00)
From
the edge of the water in Agios Geórgios (or Káto Chorió ), you follow
the main street into the village. The street is paved and passes to the
right of the taverna / minimarket To Perigiáli .
You continue to follow the main street and near the bifurcation (with
crèperie To Pérasma), you should take the LEFT street in the direction
of the church with the blue dome.
(0h06) While following the concrete road to the church, you see the
first signposting [7]. You continue beyond the church Taxiárchis, where
you keep to the right.
(0h10) You keep to the left
at the next bifurcation (road sign "Agios Athanasios / Panagía / Cave +
[7] on a pole). The gravel road is sometimes covered with concrete and
arrives after 23 minutes near the chapel of Agios Ioánnis  just before
the chapel, there is a trail to the right to Voriní Spiliá [8]
 see the walk Agios geórgios – Voriní Spiliá and back.
You continue straight on and pass a path that goes up to the left – and
you still go straight (hiking sign). Soon your road becomes sandy, but
here and there you still see the old pavement.
The nice path to Agios Athanásios.
(0h17)
Another 45 minutes later, there is a short stretch of concrete, where
you continue straight [7]. A little further on, there is again a
bifurcation, where the road sign Cave / Panagía / Agios Athanásios sends
you to the left  the trail that continues straight also leads to Agios
Athanásios: this route is a little shorter, but the left trail is nicer.
(0h21)
So you go diagonally to the left and your road becomes very quickly a
real rocky trail between walls. You climb a slope and the pavement of
the staircasepath is sometimes beautiful – later it becomes rocky and
stony again. At the top, you enjoy a nice view behind you over the
village and on the island of Náxos. You now descend, straight to the
blue dome of Panagía (or Páno Chorió).
The crossroads next to a
watering place.
(0h34)
After 13 very nice minutes, you get to an important crossroads, located
in a gentle valley  there is a well and a watering place. On the left,
the path leads to Panagía, you should follow the road sign and [7] to
the right. The trail is wide and continues between walls and in the
middle of a lot of vegetation. After another 8 minutes, you reach a
Tjunction: the road on the right is the road you did not take at point
(0h21) above  in front of
you, you see the beautiful coast and Náxos. You take a left, in the
direction of Agios Athanásios (road sign).
(0h42) Agios Athanásios is
now just ahead of you and already after 34 minutes, you arrive at a
short concrete stretch – but after a few minutes, you leave the concrete
that goes up to the right [7], because you see in front of you the
overgrown remains of a rocky kalderími, to the left of a chapel. You
thus continue in the direction of the few houses of Agios Athanásios and
you avoid in this way a long stretch of concrete  the trail is not on
the map and so you do NOT follow the trail marker [7]. Near the first
ruin, you do go to the right up to the gravel road and you now follow
again route [7], along some electricity poles.
(0h53) You pass a road sign
and next to a house, you go down to the left for a while and then up
again to the right. You arrive next to the sign “Spíleo” and in front of
a small gate with the inscription "close the door ". A clear path
continues straight ahead, to the right of a wall.
Shortly after , there is a bifurcation: your trail continues straight
on, between a wall and a large cairn with a [4] on it.
The continuation of the walk to
the cave, now marked with [4].
[To the right, another
trail leads to Vourkariá – there is a big cairn with a [6]. See the walk
Irakliá: Agios Geórgios  Agios Athanásios  bay of Vourkariá and back.]
(0h55)
The nice
monopáti will from now on be signposted with the trail markers [4]. For
a while, the path is very stony and brownish, then it continues a bit
further from the wall, but later on it
runs clearer in
between two walls [4]; this trail is fairly difficult though, because of
the loose stones. Some minutes later you describe a sharp curve left
towards the south east (with a beautiful view on Agios Geórgios and
Agios Athanásios) and after another 3 minutes there is a curve to the
right.
(1h02)
After 8 nice
minutes, you pass
through a little breach and you go down in a valley (big cairn) – and
you can see how the path continues to go up to the left of a wall. It
remains clear, also when it runs away from the wall to the left, because
of the big and little cairns, the markers [4] and some blue arrows.
(1h11)
Nine minutes later,
you describe a curve to the left and to the right (big cairn), with a
beautiful view, then you continue to go up, to the right of another
wall. The brownish path goes up for 7 minutes, during the last end
without walls next to it and past six big cairns + [4].
(1h18)
You arrive in this
way in front of a crosswall and a lot of hiking signs. The sign to the
cave (Spíleo) points straight ahead and a clear brownish trail descends
next to a big cairn + [3], straight to the tip of Ios. You see how the
trail continues next to a wall and you go down quickly during 6 minutes;
then you get to a paved path to the left of a wall (the date on the wall
is “May 2008”).
The path to the cave.
(1h29)
After 5
minutes, the pavement ends, but the trail remains clear and rather easy
– after 2 minutes however, it becomes very stony. You go down for
another 7 minutes, but then the path becomes almost flat; you pass the
last sign “Spíleo” and you continue straight where a sidepath goes down
to the right [3].
(1h43)
At the end, you go up to the left ([3] and sign) and you arrive in this
way next to the two caves: it is easy to enter in the first
cave, the
entrance to the cave to the right however is very low, but later on the
cave broadens to a large hall with an altar and thick stalagmites. Every
year, on the 28^{th} August, a big celebration takes place in
this large hall – it is hard to imagine that both the priest and all the
villagers then have to worm their way through this low entrance…
The entrance to the cave and the altar
inside.


Raymond worms his way
outside. (1h46)
You retrace your steps and you go down until you arrive next to the sign at the
junction of the main trail. You take a LEFT [5] and  watch out  after 1 more
minute, you have to go to the far LEFT ([5] on a shrub), but in the bed, you go
up to the right along a wall. You gradually climb, then you descend after 4
minutes to cross another small river bed and go up again past a second large
cairn [5].
(2h02) After a total of 16 minutes
since the cave, you are almost at the top and you go through a breach in a wall
[5]  on the right behind you, you enjoy a beautiful view of the trail [3] that
you just have followed. Beyond the 5th cairn in masonry, you continue flatly on
the crest of a hill, with a splendid view on Páros and Náxos and on Ios to the
left. You still pass 56 large cairns while following the ridge, and you
arrive at a kind of road after 7 minutes (cairn). You pass next to a
scenic shrub, then you reach an open spot with a ruin and a
drinkingtrough.
High above the ridge...
You pass next to a
rock with a [5], then to the right of an old alóni (threshing floor) and you go
down to the left (big cairn + [5]). Later on, you go down on a stony slope
(cairn), towards the clear path that passes to the left of a stable.
(2h14) Below, you pass between
vegetation and 2 walls [5], you descend slowly with to the left and in front of
you the great mass of the island of Ios (and Santoríni to the left of this
island), you pass again some ruins and walls [5] and you finally veer RIGHT,
with some ruins still ahead of you – pay attention the cairn and the trail
marker [6] are 10 meters on the right!
(2h17) You slightly go up for 34
minutes, but near the 4th large cairn, you begin a long and very slow descent on
a clear path with many cairns. Once arrived next to the second last cairn, you
have a nice view on the cape; the descent becomes faster on a rocky path, and
while describing some zigzags, you descend with caution into the valley  you
come down at about 30 meters from the very dirty little beach.
(2h37) The continuation of the trail
is marked on the left with another large cairn: you now walk on a vague trail
towards the next big cairn + [6] and then to a third, while the path becomes
clearer.
After 6 minutes, you go through an open and neglected gate [6]; you veer to the
right and after passing through a river bed, you get out of it to the left of a
wall. The stretch that follows is beautiful and almost flat: you walk now high
above the sea and you pass finally along a wall and then through another typical
Greek gate.
High above the sea...
(2h49) After yet another riverbed,
you begin the actual ascent [6], on a stony and brownish monopáti. Once at the
top, you pass between 2 small ruins, you still go down in a bed and you climb on
a steep and winding trail ([6] and cairn).
(3h01) After this difficult climb,
you can take some rest during a short flat stretch; but then, you get to a long
climb, initially quite slow, but steeper afterwards, for 11 minutes. At the end
of this climb, you arrive along a wall, then on a beautiful rocky ledge that
rises.
The rocky ledge... (3h12) You reach a kind of pass where
you veer to the right [6], but you discover that you have still to climb! You
thus go up to the right [6] with a beautiful view on Náxos and Páros, on the
sparkling sea and Ios behind you.
The sparkling sea and Ios.
The climb is still tough, but you finally
arrive on the rounded ridge.
(3h20) Kéros and Schinoussa appear,
with to the right the long silhouette of Amorgós  you distinguish even Chóra!
On Irakliá, you already see Agios Geórgios and also the small church of Agios
Athanásios, toward which you are heading now.
You veer to the left with the left wall, then you arrive between 2 walls  and
for many minutes you walk straight to Agios Athanásios. The walls diverge, you
follow first the left wall, but then you head on a brownish track to a white
house; you keep to the right of a fence in reinforcing steel and you go down on
rocky terrain until the crosstrail. Towards the end, your path is vague, but
two large cairns lead you to the trail of walks [7] and [4], to the right of the
first house of the hamlet.
(3h32) You take of course a left, you
open and close the wooden gate and,
beyond the last house, you go a bit up to the left to the gravel road (sign
Agios Geórgios). You descend for 56 minutes on concrete, you pass to the left
of the chapel and you go left  the concrete becomes the typical stony road
after 2 minutes.
(3h43) After 6 minutes, you reach the
Tjunction: the hiking sign and mark [7] send you to the right – in this way,
you would arrive near the drinkingplace, where you would find on the left the
beautiful trail that you followed during the way out  a walk of 21 minutes.
But we prefer the shortest road and continue straight on:
it takes 16 minutes to reach the
crossroads, where the other path [7] comes from the right...
(3h59) You still continue straight
and after another 8 minutes, you pass the trail of walk [8]. You thus reach the
village, you keep to the left near the church and you continue straight to the
edge of the water. (4h16)
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