Mount Ochi is located on the southern edge of Evoia (Euboea) and, together with Dirfis and Kandili, it is among the island’s biggest mountain ranges. On the south, the landscape is dry and mostly bare as a result of consecutive forest fires, which are widely believed not to have been accidental- as is obvious by the quantity of recently-built vacation houses.
The view is completely different from the mountain’s lush northeastern slopes. Between the peaks of Giouda and Boublia , a deep ravine cuts the northern parts of Mount Ochi in two, forming the Dimosaris Gorge.The scenery is only spoiled by the rows of wind-turbines, which have been carelessly put up without regards for the natural environment, and are linked through an extensive network of- even more destructive- roads. Nonetheless, the slopes overlooking the Aegean sea remain an great destination for nature-lovers. There are plenty good spots for free camping, either in the woods or by the sea, allowing one to combine swimming with hiking.
On the top of the mountain there is one of the best-preserved Dracospita (dragonhouses) on the island. The forest of ancient chestnut-trees, at an elevation of 1000 meters, is also a rare and captivating sight. Due to the strong winds coming from the open sea, the temperature on the summit is often quite low, even in midsummer. The path that goes to the peak through Dimossari gorge is highly recommended, athough it is also possible to drive all the way to the mountain refuge, just below the peak, and reach the gorge from above. The footpath in the gorge was once one of the main communication pathways to south Evoia.The Ochi region is home to the largest concentration of male peonies in Greece, as well as an assortment of rock plants- several endemic to Evoia and Greece.
(Profitis Ilias) 1399 m.
45 km from Athens
544 km from Thessaloniki
Ochi refuge: tel. (+ 30) 22240 22472, + 30 22240 26417
Dimossari gorge: From Marmari (easily reachable by ship from Rafina port, in the outskirts of Athens), drive towards the villages Paradeisi and Agios Dimitrios. When you reach a cross-road, take the left road towards Kallianoi beach and leave your vehicle near the small bridge. Begin the hike by following the trail parallel to the river, through a forest of deciduous trees. After about twenty minutes you should reach a fork in the path; take the one that goes directly ahead and continue until you reach a dirt road.
Follow the road for about 1.5 km, taking the right branch at the crossroad, until you reach Lenosaioi and Panagia church, where you should look for the path again. This is where the best part of the route begins. The trail, paved at parts, ascends next to the river, passing by strange rock formations and small waterfalls. It is possible to swim in the ponds, but it is wiser to choose the ones on higher ground, which are not frequented by herds of sheep and goats. Despite the brackens overgrowing the path in the summer, it is quite difficult to get lost. Peaks Repeza and Boublia, both close to 1000 meters high, are visible on your right. The hike ends just after the highest pond, where the wooden bridge is. It should take you around 3,5 half hours to complete and is suitable for all ages and levels of experience.
The mountain’s peaks have always been places of worship and adoration – to Hera in the past, to Profitis Ilias more recently.The word “Ochi” comes from the ancient Greek word “ocheuo”- signifying the meeting or intercourse of Hera and Zeus. According to an ancient myth, Hera was raised by the nymph Macri in Evia. Zeus first saw her in the island’s highlands and set out to conquer her by taking the shape of a cuckoo, seemingly weak trembling from the cold. Hera took the bird to her breast to warm it. Then Zeus, in his true form, tried to make her his; she only complied when he proposed marriage. One of the regions’ dragonhouses was believed to be the place where he made love to her for the first . A later legend describes an enormous dragon that lived on the peak and whose footprints can still be seen pressed into the rocks.
During the summer months, you will probably be drawn to nearby beaches, which are rarely crowded and ideal for free camping. Kastanologgos (Chestnut wood) and the dragonhouses are also must-sees, though you might prefer to spend most of your time in the area exploring Dimossari gorge.
You may try local delicacies at the surrounding villages, such as Agios Dimitrios, with its hospitable residents and a panorama of the Agios Dimitrios gorge. Pardisi, a bit further on the way towards Marmari, is very popular among locals, mainly for its several taverns. Karystos, with its 13th century Lombardian castle, is the biggest town in the region and a popular holiday destination among Athenians.
author – photographer: Panos Bampaloukas