Irakliá: Agios Geórgios - Agios Athanásios - Vourkariá and back

Evaluation: Irakliá offers many opportunities for hiking, especially in the southern part. These walks have recently been signposted .
This walk follows firstly the familiar path to Agios Athanasios (walk [7]), but later on the hike goes right to the coast. You follow a beautiful monopáti, high above the sea until the bay of Vourkariá, where you
can retrace your steps. The walk deserves ***.
[Update by Raymond on September the 27th, 2015.]
[The translation of this walk was made with some help of Google translate - so, please, do not mind the mistakes...]

Estimated time
: If you start your day from Amorgós and if you want to have enough time during this walk of 3h20 (AWT),  you have to leave very early – you can take the Express Skopelítis, on the day when it does not pass by Egiáli and Donoússa - this was, in Autumn 2015, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Via Koufoníssi and Schinoússa the boat takes you to Irakliá in a little over 2h15. It is very likely that you will then be able to take the boat back to Amorgós at about 3h30pm on that same day. This means that the available time is fairly limited. Therefore, it is ideal if you can take the very fast Blue Star at 6.00am (3 times a week from Katápola). The Blue Star sails to Irakliá in about 2 hours, on its way to Náxos and the Piraeus. However, do also take a return ticket for the Skopelítis, in Katápola on the day before your departure. In this way you are sure about the hours of the boat…and this will give you plenty of time to enjoy your hike in a relaxed way.
Your h
ike requires 55 minutes (AWT) until the bifurcation of walks [6] and [4] in Agios Athanásios. Then, it still takes 45 minutes until the beach of Vourkariá. The way back requires about the same time, so about 1h40 - the actual walking time thus amounts to a total of 3h20. We walked for 6 hours, from 8.15am to 2.15pm. You can expect the Skopelítis on the outdoor terrace of café - minimarket To Perigiáli – the Skopelítis wil arrive at about 3h30pm .

Route description
(0h00) From the pier of Agios Geórgios (or Káto Chorió ), you go in the direction of the small harbor – you follow the "promenade" next to the water and below the asphalt road. You go to the right, you walk for a few moments on the beach, then you go through the tamarisks to the left towards the concrete road. You follow it for a while to the right, then you go left into the village. The street is paved and passes to the right of the taverna / minimarket To Perigiáli .
You thus 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 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: a clear trail continues straight on, between a wall and a large cairn with a [4] on it – this is the path to the cave - see the walk
Agios Geórgios - cave of Agios Ioánnis - Panagiá - Agios Geórgios. This time, you take a RIGHT – there is a big cairn with a [6].

The beginning of trail [6] in Agios Athanásios.

(0h55) Shortly after the nice beginning of that trail, it becomes vague for a few moments, but some large cairns guide you; then you get to a clear and brownish trail between gray walls. The climb is rather steep, and while you rest a bit midway, you can enjoy a beautiful view behind you: on the left there is Náxos, in front of you lies Schinoússa with behind it Koufoníssi, then Donoússa, more to the right you see the pointed shape of Kéros and to the far right the long silhouette of Amorgós.
A little later, the left wall veers left, but the path remains clear: you follow the lower right wall and the signposting is obvious.

 

Some nice stretches of the path [6].

(1h06) After a stretch where the climb is less difficult, you begin a descent that is sometimes steep and rocky: in front of you and to the right, you now distinguish the islands of Páros and Antíparos, with behind them the vague form of Sífnos; to the far left, you see the nearby island of Ios with to its right the silhouettes of Síkinos and Folégandros. Below you, there is a beautiful bay.
The descent is difficult because of the loose stones, then you get to a protruding cape: the trail turns left and you see how it continues far ahead between walls.

(1h13) You keep going down [6] , more slowly now, and you pass some nice cairns. After 8 minutes, you arrive again between walls and you continue horizontally, then there is again a steep descent in zigzags, always marked by large cairns. After another flat stretch and another descent , you pass through an open gate.

Just before arriving at the bay of Vourkariá...

(1h36) Always with a beautiful view on the coast, you keep a little bit to the left: the trail becomes vague, you pass through another open gate and after 6 more minutes on a vague trail, you get to the dirty beach of Vourkariá - swimming is not really possible...

[
Walk [6] continues on a vague trail towards two big cairns; later on, the path becomes nice and clear, thanks to 10 big cairns - this is the reverse of the second part of the walk Agios Geórgios - cave of Agios Ioánnis - Chárakas - Vourkariá - Agios Geórgios.]

(1h42) You retrace your steps and walk to the left towards a large cairn, on a vague trail ,and then towards the next big cairn + [6] and 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...

(1u54) 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).

(2h06) 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...

(2h17) 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.

(2h29) 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.

(2h36) 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.

(2h47) 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...

(3h03) 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. (3h20)

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