Re-discovering the ghost villages of Aetoloacarnania (photo travelogue)

During the last Easter Holidays, we decided to explore the Akarnanika mountains in Western Greece. I’ve been wanting to see these mountains for years, since the day I first saw them while I was sitting inside a car. One of the things that got me really excited about this journey was the fact that these mountains, even today are relatively uknown. These  places are full of rich history ranging from the Neolithic age, to Byzantium, to the second World War. You can almost feel the ghosts of the past as you cycle on those Mythical mountains. Unfortunately, we didnt find the ruins of the Paleros city walls, a very famous ancient city from the Mycenaean times  but we did found the 3 ghost villages of the area (we missed one that was not on our route). Stone houses still vibrant with history and memories, surviving the harsh element for decades. The experience was incredible and as I’m writing those lines I feel very nostalgic remembering the great time we had cycling this vastly forgotten part of Greece.

Here is the original Route.

And a Video from the Journey:

And here a Photo Travelogue:

First break in Aetololiko
First break to eat some eggs and enjoy the view of Aitoliko’s lake. Aitoliko used to be a collection of tiny islands in the middle of the lagoon  that local fishermen connected all together with wooden bridges.  After the 70’s these islands were banked up and took the shape they have today.
Beautiful Astakos
After some easy kilometres on quiet roads with heavy clouds above our heads we reached Astakos. A touristic destination famous for its beaches.
Cute market in Astakos
2.  We found an open cute Market and we bought delicious strawberries and apples from a cute market and kept cycling until we found a decent spot to spend the night.
The gate to weirdness
On the way to Paleros we stumbled upon a very weird sight. An eccentric artist named ‘Sketzos’ had constructed an open ‘ museum’ full of weird post-apocalyptic constructions, sculptures and handwritten signs. Although the area was clearly public space (wild vegetation and rocks) his signs were claiming (among other things) that it was private property and noone should enter. Very weird.
Big clean water springs in Ano Kantila Village
One of us was really thirsty and convinced us to deviate from the route and try to find some water in the near village . After some hills we found a very old looking (very quiet) village – Ano Kantila – with big water springs!
Beuatiful small beaches
Some beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters allong the way!
Two french guys camped on this beautiful beach
We met two French bicycle tourists and they showed us their temporary home. Nice! We talked a bit about their journey around Greece, gave them some water and kept on our way.
After Steno Village
From Steno village to the first Ghost Village we had a beautiful trip with fantastic scenery and beautiful weather.
Palia Plagia Village
Here is Palia Playia, the first Ghost Village we visited. A beautiful, full of mysticism place that took my breath away. We were lucky to see the ruins the exact time the sun was setting , creating a spectacular view.
Our house now
This is our home for the night. Good view and flat ground. I had a beautiful sleep full of psychedelic dreams that night.
Injured small turtle
An injured little turtle I found in the middle of the road. A motorbike probably took away his ability to hide inside his shell. Even when I picked him up, and he was scared he couldn’t hide in his shell 😦
Small goats following us
Close to Korpi Village, on the foothills of the Akarnanika mountains we found those little guys walking around together!
Great scenery on acarnanika mountains
One of the best parts of the journey as we were ascending the mountains.
Bench with great view
We always appreciate and enjoy benches like this that give you the chance to sit, relax and enjoy the magnificent view!
An other bench with great view
Few kilometres further up another bench with even more beautiful view. We decided to call it a day and sleep here so we can wake up looking at this view!
Camping site
That’s why I love the mountains! I am the only sleeping on the left!
Nice spot to rest our legs
The next day the clouds  were greyand looked threating and we had a big journey ahead of us. We wanted to reach the summit and start descend before night. But we couldn’t resist to lay down on a spot like this!
Perganti Top on Bikes
On the top of Akarnanikamountains (Perganti Top)! It was a dream to come here and explore the area on a bicycle since the day I saw these mountains. Finally I had the chance to get there and enjoy this wild place!
Palio voustri. The second ghost Village
After some kms of rough terrain we stumbled upon the second Ghost village – PalioVoustri. Probably the most beautiful of all  3 with fairy tale like paths, river with clean water and wild view on the mountains, it really felt like I was in a movie. We spent more than 4 hours walking around and exploring this deserted place.
The mansion of a rebel
This was the mansion of N.Diamantis, a rebel of National Liberation front, the main movement of the Greek resistance during the Axis occupation of Greece. One day in 1943, while Diamantis was sitting in this yard, the Germans came to the village and when they saw him, they immediately knew he was a rebel and started to shooting at him. He managed to escape running to the top of the mountain above the village. The Germans burned down his house the same day.
Palio Voustri village
According to a shepherd, people left the village because of isolation and luck of water (the river was quite small).
Beutiful path on the road to Achira village
On the way to the 3rd village we’ve passed some beautiful places, with rich vegetation and lots of water.
Achira Village. The 3rd ghost village
The 3rd ghost village, Achira. From a distance it looks like haunted. It is full of beautiful stone houses that stand there roofless, prey to the elements. The reason behind desolation was the accessibility issues. The Roads were uphill small and difficult and that made the villagers isolated from the rest of the country.
After Achira village, the scenery is fantastic
We had an enlighting conversation with a very nice local shepherd and we started heading back.
Ancient tiny chapel
I think this is the oldest’ iconostasi’ (tiny chapel) I have seen in my life!
We found a puppy alone in the middle of the road.
After many kilometres under heavy rain and wind we found this little puppy alone in the middle of the road. Mitsos decided to to carry it in his rack panniers all the way back to Patra (100km). He decided to keep it!
Beautiful clouds
We are on Mesologgi. Close to Patra and those beautiful clouds is a sign from the mountains “Goodbye!”.

 

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