Vourkotí - Profítis Ilías - Agii Saránta and back

Evaluation: This hike departs at an altitude of 650 metres, above the deserted village of Vourkotí. Basically over the entire length it follows the hill ridges of Goráki and Kouvára, at an average altitude of 800-900 metres. The hike goes to the Profítis Ilías, the highest summit of Andros (997 m) and it then continues for another 3 kilometres to Agii Saránta (990 m). The trail is easy, but it is the panoramic views over the entire island in particular that are amazing. The hike deserves the evaluation of ***.
[Update in June 2010 by Jean-Paul Ovigne and Georges Roubaud and by Raymond on October 16th, 2013 and on April 30th, 2015.]
[The translation of this walk is
made with some help of Google translate - so, please, do not mind the mistakes...]

[Pay attention: during several years, until 2014, the first few minutes of the path from the tavern O Vráchos were difficult, if not impassable as the path was completely obstructed by vegetation. Since 2015, the passage is possible again; if in the future, there would be problems again,
you could start a little further: one should therefore follow the asphalt road for 1 kilometer, and a few hundred meters beyond the sharp left turn and the road to Achla (road sign), there is a small rocky gravel road that goes up to the left. You have to take this road, you pass under a power line and a little later, after a total of 2 minutes, you will see on the right the trailhead, next to a wall (small cairn on the wall and a red mark) - see below at the point (0h17).]

Estimated time: From Vourkotí to the top of the Profítis Ilías it takes about 75 minutes of going up (actual walking time); you then continue for some 55 minutes, on the hill ridge to Agii Saranta. You should count on exactly 2 hours for the return route, which means that the actual walking time is 4h15 all together. The total hiking time will easily mount up to 6-7 hours – we hiked from 11am to 6pm.
Important: it is really necessary to select a sunny and entirely cloudless day for this hike. When there are clouds, they tend to cluster around the summits of the Profítis Ilías very quickly. The entire hill ridge is then covered with clouds and mist, which is cold and unpleasant, but sometimes also dangerous! Additionally, the main reason to make this hike is the panoramic views, and you can only enjoy these views when the weather is clear.

Route description:  [To start this hike, you better take a car or motor bike to the village of Vourkotí. You can then park close to the tavern O Vráchos. Once or twice a week there is also an early bus.
In theory, it is possible to first make the hike from Chóra to Vourkotí, but this means that for the entire trajectory you should count on an extra 4h20 actual walking time. This would then really become a very tough, even impossibly long, hike!]

(0h00) To the left of the tavern 0 Vráchos, there is a white-painted staircase up – there is a hiking sign [12] Profítis Ilías 4,2 km / Agii Saránta 7,4 km. The concrete or rocky steps climb fast; after 2 minutes, there is a wooden gate and then you follow a rocky trail that continues more or less flat. The trail veers right and after a little less than 5 minutes, there is an obstacle.

The beginning of your walk, next to the tavern O Vráchos.

A little bit further, a beautiful path starts.

Soon, the narrow path is overgrown with ferns, especially in spring. You still veer to the right [12] and then you go down while keeping to the left into a small valley with again a difficult obstacle of branches, which makes the passage difficult. A rocky little road goes up [12] and further, you arrive at a real gravel road that continues to the left of the old rocky path [12]. You still continue 2 minutes, then you discover a brownish trail that climbs to the left, next to a wall - but 50 meters further, there is on the left side an obvious arrow and a [12] which clearly mark a path that goes up.

(0h17) You are going up to the left following goat paths, but after 2 minutes, you nevertheless come against the wall [12]. You follow it for about 6 minutes on goat paths that sometimes deflect from it for a while, and after 8 minutes, you reach a false flat. You pass to the left of some rocks and next to a pole with a [12].

The path goes up on the ridge to the Profítis Ilías.

(0h26) You move away from the wall and so you head to the middle of the ridge. You approach in this way the gravel road, but you continue more to the left on a clear winding path: first you pass to the left of some rocks, then to the left of a rather striking rock, which consists of two parts that are detached (see picture).

The path goes to the right - it will end up on the right of the rocks...

(0h30) Beyond the rocks, you go right to the top of the ridge; you pass burned bushes and get to the road that you follow up to the left. You now continue on the narrowest part of the ridge, preferably on the grass, strewn with boulders, to the left of the road. The ridge becomes wider and you reach a first height - you continue to climb slowly while passing beside a fallen antenna. After a second height, you always go up on the road, until you reach the rounded top, crowned with a geodesic pole indicating a height of 949 meters.
The road goes down, then goes up again on a steep slope to the next hill, crowned with a square pole at a height of 972 meters.

When sitting on the rocks at the hill top you have a magnificent view of the northern half of Andros, with on the right the bay of Achla and on the left the coast and the little islands in front of the harbour of Gávrio. In that direction, so to the northwest, you can also see the enormous boulder with the little chapel of Profítis Ilías on top of it. In front of you there is the round top of the Profítis Ilías. When continuing, you first walk to the slight depression, then you go up again on a grassy slope or on a kind of road.

You go now straight to the round summit of the Profítis Ilías.

[Halfway up the slope to the summit, but just BEFORE a number of rocks, you get to the beginning of a possible descent towards the large boulder with the chapel. This is the road to Arni – see the hike Vourkotí - Profítis Ilías - Arni - Batsí. In April 2015 there was no signposting at all.]

(1h16) You thus arrive to the right of the top with the geodesic pole:
 the large and round top of the Profítis Ilías is, with its 997 metres, the highest summit of Andros and the third highest of the Cyclades (after the Zas and the Kóronos on the island of Náxos).

On the summit of the Profítis Ilías (997 m)!

You obviously have a marvellous panoramic view: to the north, with the west coast and far away also the island of Evia; to the south, with beyond the hill ridges of Andros also the vague isle of Tínos. You can also see the continuation of the hill crest you are situated on right now, with still two more elevations that look higher than the place where you are standing now – although in fact they are definitely lower…  

Panoramic view from the Profítis Ilías to the north.

View to the south.

You now have to follow the hill ridge of the Kouvára for yet another 3 km; two more times you have to do down and go up again, all the time at an altitude above 900 metres.
To the right of the top of the Profítis Ilías, you get again to the road: first, it goes down, then it goes up for quite a time. You continue just below the crest of the hill, you wind between the rocks, then you pass to the left of a few strange rock formations.

You continue your walk on the Kouvára.

(1h31) Once arrived almost at the top, you keep a little to the right in order to reach a trail: you now continue more to the right and below the hill ridge and you head towards the next rocky summit and a large solitary rock.

The slopes of the Kouvára are strewn with strange rocks...

A weird rock.

(1h35) You get to a kind of track that passes to the left of a similar rock and you go down a little, agreeably continuing on the grass to the left of the path.

(1h44) You cross a rocky depression and you attack the last climb: the vague path veers left, next to a pock-marked rock, then it turns slowly to the right and so you get to a broad gravel plateau where the gravel track continues while going up. You get again to a kind of plateau, the road zigzags right and left between the rocks, and then it goes down and then up for the very last time.
Finally you reach a stony plain with a little grey building at the far end. You notice a geodetic pole on the roof of the building, which is in fact the chapel of Agii Saránta (2h12) 


You approach the chapel of Agii Saránta.

The geodetic pole of Agii Saránta (990 m.)

You are now at an altitude of 990 metres. The panoramic view is magnificent again: on the right you notice Batsí, the harbour of Gávrio and beyond the vague hills of Andros also Evia, with the island of Kéa more to the right. Beyond the hills on the left you can see the island of Tínos, and Sýros (towards the right in the sea). Deep under, you have a splendid view on the sunken ruins of Paleópolis.

Panoramic view to the north.

(2h12) For the return route you follow the same road of course, which is in fact fairly self-evident. You return to the rocky plateau and it is in the farthest corner on the left that begins the little road that passes to the left of some rock formations. It then turns right to stay in the middle of the ridge. Two times, the trail climbs to the right after a slight descent in order to continue onto the hill crest, but eventually, you cross this ridge.

(2h27) You walk straight ahead for 6 minutes until you get to the gravel plain; you now continue until you arrive to the right of the rocks, then you descend slightly to the right, so that you get back to the gravel road. You veer left, you get to a rocky plateau – and there, you keep a little to the left: in this way, you will pass to the left of a depression, but to the right of a large solitary triangular rock. The vague track becomes clearer later on and you arrive on the left slope of the ridge, which is dotted with large boulders. The grassy track becomes more vague again, it becomes stony later and still passes between a triangular rock, to the left, and some rocks on the right.

(2h52) You continue straight to the rounded top of the Profítis Ilías; beyond the plateau, the road becomes clearer and so you get in 16 minutes to the summit.

The way back to the summit of the Profítis Ilías.

(3h08) After the descent, you go up to the next summit, which is crowned by the square geodesic pole, then you descend and ascend for the last time.

 (3h32) After a flat stretch, you arrive next to a wall, you continue the descent and you remain to the left of the last hill. The path becomes very stony and you go down again.

(3h52) Suddenly, some marks [12] send you to the right to follow the old path between the road and a wall. You arrive against the wall [12] - you already see Vourkotí below you - and you continue to follow it, until, to the end, you veer a little to the left [12] and get in this way to the gravel road.

The green valley of Vourkotí.

(4h00) You take a right, the road becomes very stony, but a little further, after 2 minutes, it ends in front of a gate in reinforcing steel: you go to the right on a rocky trail between walls [12] . The stony trail descends quickly, it crosses a valley and passes through a difficult gate in reinforcing steel, where you go up immediately to the right [12]. The path becomes narrower as it is overgrown with ferns [12], you still pass some obstructions of branches and a wooden pallet, and you finally get to the asphalt road, next to "O Vráchos." (4h14)

[If you came to Vourkotí by bus, you probably will have to continue to Chóra on foot. Straight ahead you find a staircase going down to the houses of Vourkotí (hiking sign [6] and [2] Apíkia 3,8 km / Chóra 7,1 km); in the village itself you get to a three-forked junction – hike [6] to Agios Nikólaos and Achla starts on the left. You have to go straight on and you follow hike [2] to Apíkia and Chóra – see the second part of the hike Chóra - Katakaléï - Apíkia - Vourkotí.]

In order to get the printer-friendly version
with only the text
in one column,
click here.