Polylimnio, Neda (Platania) and Kalamaris
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To reach the Polylimnio Gorge in the Messenia region of the Peloponnese about 30 kilometers from Kalamata, follow the Pylos road from Messini. Near Kazarma there is the village called Charavgi, where on the main road there is a sign leading to Polylimnio.
To reach the gorge, drive down the track until you reach the car park. Then walk down the steep hill until you come to Polylimnio, (you can hear the water even before your get there!)
Follow a small path for 5 minutes and pass through dense vegetation and picturesque wooden bridges and you will find yourselves in a secret paradise.
Polylimnio in Greek means 'many lakes' and that is what there are. Here you will discover 15 fresh-water lakes and beautiful waterfalls.
The path you walk is not easy as there are many rocks to clamber up but there are metal foot and hand hold in places which are very difficult.
The lakes have different names such as Mavrolimna (Black Lake), Kadi, Kadoula (heart-shaped), Tycheros (Lucky), Italian (because an Italian is meant to have drowned in it), Panagos and Stathoula.
Polylimnio was well hidden for many years and it is only recently that it has become known to the public and made accessible.
The gorge is 3 kilometers long so is a medium hike, there is a small picnic area but no facilities, so you need to take provisions with you, but don't carry too much.
In the summer there are many who like the cool water of the lakes to swim in, especially lake Kadoula. The waterfall offers a unique experience to whoever reaches it, while the bravest ones climb and dive from the surrounding rocks into the lake's deep water.
The waters of the Gorge of Polylimnio come from Mesopotamos, and after going under the bridge of Tzanes, they flow into the Messinian Bay at Petalidi.
The Neda is a river in the western Peloponnese and is almost unique in the sense that there are only 2 or 3 river in Greece with a feminine name.
The river begins on the southern slope of Mount Lykaion, near the village of Neda in northern Messenia. It flows to the west through a varied landscape of barren rock and forests.
The river travels a distance of 32km through magical surroundings and finally flows into the Ionian Sea near the village of Giannitsochori.
The world of the valley of Neda River was a mythical site for ancient Greeks.
According to Greek mythology the river took its name from one of the Nymphs, daughters of Zeus Aegiochos, god of the storm.
Nymphs were considered to be very beautiful young women of divine origin, who were not immortal but they were lived for many years near springs and rivers, eating the ambrosia.
After Rea gave birth to Zeus at the Lykaion Mountain, she entrusted her son's growing up to the Nymphs of Neda, Thesoa and Agno.
Legend says that the area of Arcadia was without water at that times and Rea couldn't find any, so she hit the ground with a stick and immediately a river was created, named Neda from the Nymph's name.
The river is only accessible during the summer months because after a lot of rain the water can become a torrent.
The most direct and easy access to the Neda waterfalls is from the village of Platania, where a dirt road leads to the stone bridge. The path is then signposted up a track to the falls, probably about 2km long.
On the rocks that overhang the gorge is little church of Panagitsa and the cave of a hermit. It is said that the icon on display in the church was found in a niche above where the church was built.
Walking along the river, or even a small part of it, promises views of spectacular waterfalls, sunless gorges and deep pools of blue water. The middle stretch of the river is lost for awhile in a natural tunnel where hundreds of bats reside.
Along the way at former crossing points little stone bridges have survived and a few mills that made use of the power of the water. There are oak trees, wild fig trees, thick reeds and poplars that grow in the region and there are many large blue dragonflies in the trees and around the water.
The famous waterfall of Figalia with a height of 50m is at the end of the impressive gorge.
Very close to Gialova, you will see a sign on your left with directions leading to Schinolaka. You should follow this road until you reach a turn in the road to the right and you will see the sign leading to Kalamaris Waterfall.
A dirt road begins in this point. Towards the end of the track you will have to park your car and walk the pathway to the waterfall. The pathway is narrow and covered with wild vegetation! After approximately 15 minutes of walking, you will reach a big clearing of plane trees.
Cross the little bridge - or in our case the fallen trees across the river - and climb the manmade steps of the pathway which lead to the waterfall and the lake.
You will definitely enjoy the coolness amongst the trees which will make you forget the summer heat!
During the summer months, you will not find much water; probably just a few little streams running over the rocks and spilling into the lake.
Unfortunately there is some water pollution in the river caused by the many Olive Oil presses in the area.
To visit any of these waterfalls you need good footwear, a swimsuit (if you want a dip), provisions and definitely a camera! Both sites can be very busy, especially in August.
Polylimnio is best visited in the early morning, we arrived at 7am and had the whole place to ourselves. Walking down we saw some amazing spiders and their webs amongst the trees at the side of the path.
I was very sad to hear of the death of a young woman and injuries to others at Polylimnio in August 2016. Apparently the place was very crowded and it began raining which caused rocks and trees to fall. Care should then be taken at all times and don't go if it is raining!!
In March of 2017 I went to visit Polylimnio to find that the lower bridge had washed away so access to the waterfalls was not possible. If this happens it would be sensible to place a notice in the Car Park to say that this was the case.
I have recently been made an honorary member of ecotourism-greece.
You can visit their page on Polylimnio here. ECOTOURISM-greece.com
You can visit their page on Neda here. ECOTOURISM-greece.com
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