Gialova Lagoon

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Gialova Lagoon

The wetlands of Gialova (Divari) are of particular ecological interest as a major stopover point for many migratory birds. It is one of the most significant wetlands not only in Greece, but also Europe. The lagoon provides shelter to as many as 275 recorded birds and is home to a great number of mammals, serpents, amphibians and fish. The lagoon is the southernmost European wetland for thousands of birds flying from Africa to Europe or vice versa. In spring they stop here to rest and feed on their journey from Africa to Europe and in autumn they also stop here to rest before the long journey of 3000 km over the Mediterranean and the Sahara Desert. If you visit the lagoon, you might be lucky enough to see herons and flamingos, ospreys, stilts, avocets, calidris, snipe, curlew, tartaric, terns, as well as the only chameleon found in Europe. The great advantage of Gialova Lagoon over the large wetlands of Northern Greece is its small size which allows birdwatchers to spot most of the birds present here.

Gialova Lagoon - also known as Divari from the latin word vivarium, meaning “fishery” – consists of brackish lagoons and freshwater marshes. It extends between the village of Gialova and the Bay of Voidokilia where lies one of the most beautiful beaches in the Peloponnese. The lagoon together with Navarino Bay and the island of Sphacteria constitute a unique ecosystem in terms of natural and cultural heritage and is part of the European Natura 2000 Network. Apart from its ecological significance, the area is also of great archaeological interest. Here is the tomb of Thrasymedes, the remains of Classical Pylos, Palaiokastro and the cave of Nestor. Access to the cave is easy and the view from there is stunning.

The Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) implements since 1997 systematic actions for the protection and the promotion of the area, including bird monitoring and habitat management programs, as well as projects for volunteers and environmental information and public awareness programs for local inhabitants and visitors. The main threats in the area are related to modifications to the wetland’s surface hydrology from human interventions, illegal activities and infringements on the wetland and the surrounding area during the last decades. Furthermore, tourist development has increased leading to a significant increase in visitors over the last five years during summer, with negative impacts on the sand dune ecosystem from the use of off-road vehicles. Due to its evergreen charm and ecosystem the area attracts naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.

Gialova lagoon is about 8 km north of Pylos and access is easy. If you are in the area, visit the wetland to see the birds, climb to the cave of Nestor to get stunning views of the Gulf of Navarino, stop for a swim at the world famous Voidokilia beach and fond out more about this enviromentally unique destination.