Irakliá: Agios Geórgios - cave of Agios Ioánnis - Chárakas - Vourkariá - Agios Geórgios

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.

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 2-3 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 4-5 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 staircase-path 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 T-junction: 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 3-4 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 cross-wall 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 side-path 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 28th 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 5-6 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 drinking-trough.

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 3-4 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 cross-trail. 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 5-6 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 T-junction: the hiking sign and mark [7] send you to the right – in this way, you would arrive near the drinking-place, 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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