In the past few weeks I’ve been spending quite a bit of time navigating the river canyons of Ikaria doing a river feature mapping project. The work basically involves following the river, either upstream or downstream (whichever might be easier for a given section) and marking down coordinates for pools, waterfalls and other points of interest.
I can tell you that Chalares river, for example, has over 70 swimmable pools (over 1m deep) starting from the beach in Nas and ending at Megalo fragma (dam of Chalares) and Raksounia waterfall (the second fork) with the average surface area of between 50 & 60 square meters (based on rough estimates, varies with season and amount of water) and there are about 40 waterfalls over 2m high (again, depends on amount of water).
The time it takes you to make it from one end to the other will depend greatly on your swimming habits and other variables but I’d suggest you take your time and divide the hike between at least two days. The other two major rivers in Rahes area offer a similar challenge.
If the title evoked images of canyoning of the adrenaline kind (such as the ones in the video below) I can assure you it is not the most likely situation you will find on these rivers. There’s simply not enough water to allow for such sliding or jumping over waterfalls (except in certain specific sections).
No, canyoning on Ikaria is more of a peaceful kind that takes you to places rarely seen by others since the trails mostly stay higher up on the sides of the valley.
Ratsos waterfall in Chalares, photo copyright: Archipelagos/Jernej Burkeljca
upper Raksounia waterfall, Chalares, photo copyright: Archipelagos/Jernej Burkeljca
Why such places are rarely seen becomes quickly apparent once you try to get to them. Most of them are inaccessible for the most part of the year when water levels are too high and even in the summer they can present quite a challenge.
Eva & Jude climbing in Myrsonas, photo copyright: Archipelagos/Jernej Burkeljca
I would sum up the skills required into three groups. First off we have classic rock climbing. Mostly this won’t be that hard or high and can often be avoided by climbing out and around on the sides of the valley rather than over the obstacle. But not always (especially the section of Myrsonas between Vathes reservoir and the first bridge downstream) and you will have to find a way forward right over the wall, usually next to a waterfall. I would suggest bringing some safety equipment just in case you’re not too confident.
Next up is bouldering. You might argue this is the same as rock climbing but as it involves low obstacles it is not as dangerous and much more common in all of these rivers. Sometimes it might be hard to get over a particular problem but a little skill and ingenuity goes a long way.
Thirdly we have parkour. True… you may not actually need this skill per se but it sure makes life a lot easier. If you do know some of the moves and principles involved you’ll be saving a lot of time and energy getting over the obstacles.
In short that would be it. I may expand it at a future date though.