Although the world has changed, our passion for travel hasn’t stopped, and we’re excited to hear about our travellers’ first safe and secure return to adventure on a small group trip to the Mountains & Villages of Evia, in August. And who better to welcome our travellers’ back, than our fun-loving local Greek guide, Thanos Mamas, who’s been leading the way for over 20 years with Exodus.
Known to everyone as the ultimate “man about town”, Thanos leaves no hiking trail, traditional family-run taverna or deserted beach unturned in what he affectionately calls, “the land of the Gods”. With his unrivalled local knowledge and over two decades of expertise guiding and island-hopping across the Aegean Greek Islands, Thanos knows this captivating region like the back of his hand. Read on to find out what hidden local gems and off the beaten track hikes our travellers experienced with Thanos on our first trip back to Greece.
Aside from the dazzling azure seas, picture-perfect whitewashed villages and streets draped in bougainvillaea, you’ll find there’s a wealth of sun-bleached Byzantine ruins, Roman aqueducts and remarkable history to uncover on our Mountains and Villages of Evia trip, that Thanos is only too keen to share with you. Even though Evia is the second-largest island in Greece and a firm favourite weekend trip for Athenians, the island remains largely undiscovered and untouched by tourism, making it the perfect choice for your first safe and secure return to adventure while also giving you unique insight into authentic Greek culture at its best.
As a business, our customers’ safety has always come first – and it’s just as important now as it was when we took our first travellers on an exhilarating overland journey back in 1974. Every one of our trips is designed for guiding our travellers off the beaten track and exploring the great outdoors which makes it easy for us to adapt our itineraries to follow best practices and safety travel guidelines.
When asked about our trip to the Island of Evia, Exodus traveller, Sue Collins, was quick to comment, “I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever trip to Greece. As usual with Exodus, it was organised brilliantly with an amazing and knowledgeable local guide”. She continued, “Travelling to Greece through the airports was straightforward, as we had been informed about all the new relevant forms required by Exodus before the trip began. Thanos had all the forms required for the ferry crossing too, so it went off without any hitches”.
Sue sang Thanos’ praises explaining that “He looked after our small group of 8, attentively and took our temperature every morning. I felt reassured during the whole trip that Thanos and the hotel staff had put measures in place to keep us safe and protected”. She continued, “We ate evening meals in small local tavernas a short distance from the hotel. As we ate outside, socially distancing, we felt safe whilst still able to soak up the atmosphere”.
Whether it’s chatting with your group of likeminded travellers over dessert and coffee in a traditional taverna or toasting a day of hiking with a complimentary shot of ouzo outside the waterfront meze shops, you’re bound to experience a slice of what it’s like to be local. As it’s these places that shine a particular spotlight on what life is truly like in Greece, where families break bread together every evening and passionately live life to the fullest.
Apart from the quaint but lively local towns, the island of Evia is blessed with an all-year-round mild climate and lush green landscapes, making it a top choice for hikers and walking enthusiasts. Start the adventure by taking a ferry to Evia and a short drive towards the south-eastern tip of the island, where you will visit the Cape of Cavo Doro and head to the beautiful ravine of Platanistos, stopping by the site of Hellinikon with to see the ancient remains of Poseidon’s temple.
Next, set off on foot along the “Eagle route” which takes us above the lush valley of Styra. Sue comments, “It was such beautiful weather when I was there. After we finished hiking, we were able to swim in the warm sea at the end of each day which was marvellous”. She continued, “If I had to name my favourite walk, it would have to be the hike from mount Ohi down towards the gorge along the rugged Aegean coast. Mount Kliosi with its spectacular ancient stone gateway, the Acropolis of Styra, was also a truly magnificent sight”.
Another one of our travellers, Lisa Armstrong, mentioned that her top highlight of the trip had to be, “The spectacular Castillo Rosso and the ancient churches”, we explore on day 4 after visiting the Gourna villages and monolithic marble columns. Not only is it one of the grandest forts in Greece dating back to the 4th crusade, but it also boasts breath-taking panoramas overlooking the Mediterranean. Lisa also told us, “Thanos was great at organising everything. He always brought us local pastries for the walks and wonderful sandwiches! It was my first time in Greece, and I am glad I went”.
For those looking to see historic monuments that marked the birthplace of democracy and Western civilisation, we also organise a trip to Athens on day 6 of our Mountains and Villages of Evia adventure. While you’re here, you can enjoy wandering around the beautiful Plaka neighbourhood, the impressive Houses of Parliament and the picturesque Zappeion National Gardens, before heading up to see one of the world’s most famous ancient wonders, the towering Acropolis of Athens.
Catching up with the man himself, our local Greek guide, Thanos on his first tour since lockdown, he explained, “It has been a fantastic week. With all the proper health protocols in place, we’ve been implementing best practices when it comes to travel safety, keeping up social distancing and regular hand washing when appropriate, but to be honest, it hasn’t felt a lot different to how I’ve run the Mountain and Villages of Evia trip over the last twenty years. It’s the same great hikes, the same beautiful dinners and swimming in the warm Aegean waters every day”. He continues, “One of our travellers is even rebooking another trip to Greece with three of his friends this November! It’s great to see that people’s appetite for travel is stronger than ever.”
So, there you have it. If our friendly local guide, Thanos Mamas and our customers from the Mountains and Villages of Evia trip have inspired you to find out more about our adventure holidays in Greece, click here.