Vourkotí - Profítis Ilías - Arni - Katákilos - Káto Katákilos - Batsí

Evaluation: This hike is one of the longest you can make on the island of Andros; it traverses the entire island by following the highest short-cut. Hike no. [9], traversing the island from Ano Aprovátou via Pitrofós to Strapouriés and definitely the hike from Stavropéda to Messariá follow routes that are situated quite a bit lower. This is really a great way to explore the higher interior of Andros and enjoy the views from the mountain side of the Profítis Ilías. The mountain village of Arni and many of the trajectories of the trail are absolutely worthwhile. Therefore, the hike deserves the maximum evaluation of ****.

[Pay attention: we describe below the start of the walk from the tavern O Vráchos. The first few minutes of the path from the tavern O Vráchos were already difficult a few years ago. But Jean-Pierre Greffeuille reported in June 2012 that the path is really impassable and that most local landowners have blocked all the passages, and walls with thorns.
In October 2012 and 2013, I have found myself that there is already after one minute a gate that is very difficult to open, but the trail is completely obstructed by vegetation after 4-5 minutes.
It is therefore for the time necessary to start further: one must 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 path that goes up to the left. You have to take this path, 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 (0h15).]

Estimated time: The hike falls apart in a few pieces: to get from Vourkotí to the Profítis Ilías is a climb of about 65 minutes. It will then take you one hour to the church of Arni. After yet another hour you will reach Katákilos and after 20-25 more minutes you will get to the bridge of Káto Katákilos. It will then cost you one more hour to the beach of Batsí. This means that the total actual walking time is about 4h25 – we hiked from 10am to 6pm.

Route description: [To start this hike, you better take a taxi to the village of Vourkotí: you can start the walk next 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
2h20 actual walking time. This would then really become a very tough, even impossibly long, hike!]

THIS IS THE OLD DESCRIPTION OF THE OVERGROWN STRETCH:

(0h00) On the left of the tavern O Vráchos you find a white staircase going up – the trail marker is the number [2], but a little further on there is also a blue dot on a rock. You climb fairly quickly on the concrete steps, but very soon the trail becomes beautifully cobbled. Later on, the narrow path is covered with ferns – especially in spring. 

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

A little bit further, a beautiful path starts.

You curve to the right, then to the left, and then you get to a difficult stretch of some 4-5 minutes, covered with ferns and sometimes with thorny bushes. You persevere and after 6-7 minutes you notice a red dot. The trail continues to be difficult for a short while, and then it improves. After almost 9 minutes you reach a gate made of iron wire and then you get to a rocky gravel road – you go straight ahead and up (there is an almost faded away red dot).
A short while later you notice a very rocky path continuing straight on and up. After 1-2 minutes you are walking on the right of a gravel road and you actually get to this road. Watch out: some 3 minutes further, at the beginning of a slight curve to the left, you have to go up a narrow path on the left, next to a little wall – there are many red dots and a red arrow to guide you.

THIS IS THE SPOT WHERE WE STARTED OUR WALK IN OCTOBER 2013:

(0h15) The path is now really obvious and it goes up steeply on the sloping hill ridge, with a wall on your left-hand side. You pass between the wall and some rocks, further on between the wall and the vegetation, and you arrive at a stretch that is more flat, with the first hill in front of you - from time to time, there are red marks.

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

A couple of minutes later the trail moves away from the wall and it rather turns into a vague goat path.

(0h22) You walk on a flat part for a little while and then you go up again (red dot on a rock). You keep a little to the right now and you continue in the middle of the ridge; the wall veers to the left and you arrive to the LEFT of 2 rocks that stand on the first summit. Further, you also remain at the left of a rather striking rock, which consists of two parts that are detached (see picture). You keep here to the right, while passing between two rocks (cairn and red marks).

 

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

You are now high above Vourkotí again, because at the beginning of the hike you had been going more to the right.

(0h30)
You continue now about 10-15 metres underneath the hill crest. By following some really vague paths you get to a wall (cairn), which you follow to the right and up. You clamber over stones and bushes, at the left side of another striking rock, and via a narrow passage between walls and rocks (with a number of red dots) you arrive at the hill crest again. Over there you discover an incredible view over the sea on the other side of the island – in fact, you can now see the sea on both sides of the island.
You still follow the sloping hill crest, never too far away from and sometimes really next to a wall, on the left of the hill crest. At the end, the wall is replaced by a fence made of iron wire – all the time you have a view of the entire length of the island, both on the left and on the right. Further to the left you notice the island of Tínos and to the right there is the isle of Evia. Behind you and on the right there is the bay of Achla.

(0h37) You reach a stony and green slope, strewn with rocks.

The vague path continues in the middle of the ridge.

You walk on a carpet of moss and between bushes, and you step over the remains of an antenna, which was there a few years ago a good beacon ... You continue your peaceful rise on the ridge that became rather broad now and you reach a wall on your left-hand side.
There are little signs with a faded away red triangle to show you the way – in October 2013, this sign had fallen down…

A lonely sign on the ridge to the Profítis Iías.

(0h44) You follow the narrow path between the wall and the overgrowth – however, in October 2013, the vegetation was burned by a fire. You follow that wall until you get to an obvious trail that goes up on the right to the top (cairn and red dot).

(0h50) On that summit, you continue to the next hill, but first you have to go down a little and climb up to the following height, now at an altitude of 972 metres. At this point you can see the round crown of the Profítis Ilías (997 m) in front of you. A little further you get to a flat stone, an ideal spot to look around and to enjoy the magnificent view over the northern half of Andros, with the bay of Achla on the right and on the left the little islands before the harbour of Gávrio. In that direction, so to the northwest, you can already see the huge rock with a small chapel on top of it – that is a point we will reach later on!

(1h04) You first walk through the slight depression in front of the Profítis Ilías and then you descend to the right.

[It is tempting to keep following the hill ridge, first to the Profítis Ilías, the highest point of the island, then further on the hill crest of the Kouvára to the little chapel of Agii Saránta (990 m), but today there is not enough time for such an excursion.]

It is really difficult to find the right path now. First you go up until you get halfway the slope to the next summit, but just BEFORE the small group of rocks you start going down - without following a trail - in the direction of the large boulder with the chapel. You first walk on a ridge with a goat path and then you turn straight to the base of the boulder. 

The enormous boulder with the little chapel of Profítis Ilías.

After some 18 minutes you arrive at the foot of the rock and at the primitive little chapel of Profítis Ilías. In front of you there is a deep valley with the church of Arni and you have a truly amazing view on the route you are about to follow and on the gulf of Gávrio beyond.

(1h22) You take the gravel road leaving from the base of the rock and going to the left. This road describes a large curve to the church of Arni in the valley. After some 10 minutes the descending road passes deep underneath the large boulder where you were just a few minutes ago. About 5 minutes further down you have to watch out: when you get to a few large rocks on your left you notice a narrow trail going into the valley on the left (there is a red dot on a small rock on the left of the gravel road and a red arrow on the rock on the right of the road; you also see a cairn on top of a rock besides the trail.).

(1h37) You descend quickly now, first straight towards the red church of Arni and the stony path is very obvious.

The path descending to the valley of Arni.The trail then curves more to the right and it runs horizontally for a short while. Fortunately, after 9-10 minutes it curves to the left again, straight towards the dispersed houses of Arni – which, all of a sudden, seems much closer as well. About 2-3 minutes later you get to a side-trail, where you take a left. A little further the old trail is blocked, so you should walk on its left-hand side. After two minutes you have to keep to the right, you keep going down and then you should not go left nor right, but rather walk towards the road. You follow the road to the left and when it gets to a dead end you descend the concrete staircase and thus you reach a well and a small pond. On the well you see the inscription "Syllogos Arnis Evangelistria 2001".

[We had our picnic on the wall next to the pond. Afterwards we were invited into the house of a friendly man, to have cool water from the well, a cup of coffee and a delicious "glykó tou koutalioú" ("a sweet you have to eat with a spoon").]

(1h53) After lunch you go left and you follow the trail straight ahead. After 1-2 minutes you go up a staircase on the left and you continue on a flat trail. A little further you go down alongside a house and you cross a little bridge midst bushes. You walk on the left of a few large rocks and then you describe a large curve above the village, by walking on a concrete path or on steps – the village is actually hidden between the green. After 7-8 minutes you keep to the left; you pass another well and then you have to watch out again: at the large house you take the staircase going down on the RIGHT of the house. In this way you reach a small asphalt road, which you follow to the left. The road ends at the church and the school of the village.
Also this would be a nice picnic spot, on the wall between the church and the school, with a great view on the valley you will hike through later on.

The church of Arni.

(2h03) From the church you walk back for some 60 metres – high in front of you, you can still distinguish the large rock with the church of Profítis Ilías! – and then you take the concrete road going down on the left; very soon, this road becomes a dirt track.
After about one minute you proceed straight ahead and some 6-7 minutes later you walk over some streaming water. Slightly further down you keep to the right and in this way you follow the main gravel road all the way to the end. You then get to a metal gate, on the right of a half-hidden away house. 

(2h19) Over here you have to ask the residents whether you can pass over their property ("Psáchnoume to monopáti sto Katákilo. Boroúme na perásoume?" "We are looking for the trail to Katákilos. Can we pass through, please?") and further on there is another gate which you close again carefully. After about two minutes you arrive at a trail running on the right-hand side of a wall and which you follow to the right. Very soon you reach a beautiful spot under a plane-tree and you cross a streaming brook.
The following stretch is really beautiful, running between a wall and some Mediterranean maple-trees, first going up and then running horizontally. A couple of minutes later you keep to the right, underneath the chapel of Agios Modestos, still walking alongside a wall. You walk on a thick layer of leaves, you crawl under a fallen tree and you cross some streaming water in a rocky bed. You curve to the right and quite soon you reach a third, fairly swampy bed of a brook.
The path is overgrown for a short while, but then you get to a beautiful stretch between walls again. Thereafter the trail is overgrown with ferns and then there is a very pleasant part again, almost immediately besides a wall.

Your monopáti between Arni and Katákilos.

You cross a dry bed and for a short while you walk on the right of the overgrown trail until you get to a ruin.

(2h40) You go up between the ruins and over there you find another trail, running in the direction of a gravel road. You follow this gravel road for many more minutes, with on your right a beautiful view on the green valley and on the mountain ridge of the Profítis Ilías.

The green valley and the dispersed houses of Arni.

After some 11-12 minutes you see a chapel in front of you and you proceed towards this chapel: after a little while you keep to the left and just before you get to the chapel you take a right on a crossroad. Immediately before the chapel, with the cemetery beyond, there is a broad road going to the left. You take this road, on the far left, in the direction of the church tower (you DO NOT take the narrow road on the left of the chapel).  

The chapel high above the village of Katákilos.

(3h02) The gravel road turns into concrete and in this way you curve around the church. You describe a few more curves going down and after 7 minutes you pass the entrance of the tavern of Krýa Vrýsi (= Cold Well). You keep going down on this road, but after a little over two minutes you really have to take care: opposite a house with a blue gate and a little stone lion on both sides, there is a gravel road on the left (note the signpost to Agios Dimítrios). Hardly 10 metres further on, at a holm oak, you take a right on a concrete path. You walk towards a house and before this house, when you get to a small terrace with olive trees, you go right again. Opposite the big concrete wall you then discover a path between walls.

(3h12) This path descends quickly, going into the valley, and after three minutes it gets close to the curve in the asphalt road. You keep going down on the broad staircase-trail. 

The path between Katákilos and Káto Katákilos.

You thus arrive at a cart track, which crosses the valley to Káto Katákilos. About 9 minutes later you reach a metal gate, next to a chapel, and beyond this gate you find the beginning of a small concrete road. After three more minutes you get to the asphalt road, where you take a left. Shortly thereafter you reach a bridge: before the bridge there is a well with nice water on the left, and straight across there are the taverns of O Grégos and To Stéki.

(3h25) You follow the asphalt road going up steeply on the right-hand side of To Stéki (there is a traffic sign indicating 10%). The concrete becomes asphalt and after some four minutes you reach yet another asphalt road, where you go right. You continue for another 6-7 minutes and then you arrive at the main asphalt road.

(3h36) You take a left for a short while, but then you immediately take a concrete road off the right – this road soon turns into gravel. A little further you DO NOT take a left, but after 6-7 minutes you get to a crossroad where you do go left, straight towards the sea. After ten minutes all together you walk through an open gate (there is a red dot) and some four minutes later you get to a blue wooden gate. A rocky trail going up on the right (with water pipes) permits you to get round some private premises.

(3h50) You go up immediately besides the house and then you go down again. Past the house you can take a left again, to the trail between walls. You cross a bed of a river and you go up straight ahead, between oleanders; directly to the left you thus find a beautiful and rocky trail between walls. You go down gradually now, on a nice trail, straight towards Batsí. After 11-12 minutes you cross a side-bed and a couple of minutes further down you arrive at the main bed.

(4h05) You continue in the bed of the river and for a short while you have to force your way through the oleanders. The trail gets better and after ten minutes you easily arrive at a gravel road, coming from the right. You go straight ahead, past the sports field and finally, via a concrete slope on the right of the big bridge, you reach the ring road around Batsí.

(4h18) You continue on a concrete road on the opposite side, on the right of the bed of the river and after 6-7 minutes you get to the beach, next to hotel Chrýsi Akti. The centre of the village is situated to the left. (4h25) 

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