Vouraikos Gorge (Zachlorou - Diakopto)
The trail through the Vouraikos Gorge in Northern Peloponnese is without exaggeration one of the best hikes in Greece. Not only it passes through some truly stunning landscape but the only way through the gorge leads on the rails of a functioning rack railway of the Odontotos train, that connects Diakopto at the coast of the Corinthian Gulf with Kalavryta high on the slopes of Mount Chelmos. The route is part of international hiking route E4. Although you can start the hike from Kalavryta, it is not worth to hike all the train's route from Kalavryta to Diakopto, as the upper part is not so attractive as the lower one from Zachlorou.
The best plan is to take the famous Odontotos train from Diakopto and get off halfway of the route to Kalavryta, in the village of Zachlorou. The hike starts from there, following the railway tracks. The tracks go through amazing places in Vouraikos gorge, like the Gates ("Portes"), waterfalls, railway bridges, always along the river. The path only descends and is very easy, with beautiful views all the way. We strongly advice to keep the timetable of departures of the Odontotos in mind to avoid meeting the train in the tunnels or another narrow place. At other times, there is plenty of space at the side of the track. If you estimate the time the train needs to reach you, you can find a comfortable spot to let the train pass and wait it out. The train horns from a distance in order to make the hikers see it and be safe.
Walking on the railway tracks is tricky. The wooden sleepers aren’t laid at regular intervals and the walk is tiring for the feet as the ground is 90% mid-sized rocks and pebbles, so be sure to wear good hiking shoes. Another thing to watch out are the bridges and how to cross them. The bridges can be dangerous and a problem for people or children who are afraid of heights. You can do the hike the other way around, walking from Diakopto to Zachlorou. This option is slightly more challenging due to the 600 meters elevation gain. However, it is a gentle climb and nothing that the average person couldn’t handle.