Hiking Foloi forest and The Centaurs Gorge
About The Place
The plateau of Foloi is located at the south-western lower ends of Mount Erymanthos on the plateaus of Foloi and Pinia. Administratively it falls within the Municipalities of Lasionos and Foloi and within the limits of the Municipalities of Lampia and Oleni. One of the largest oak forests is found on the plateau. It covers an area of 42 thousand hectares and is one of the few purely seed plants in the whole of Europe.
The forest of Foloi or Kapeli is located in the catchment basins of the rivers Erymanthos and Pinios. The unfavorable climatic and soil conditions give the forest a protective character both to the soil and to the crops and cultural works, through which the rivers Alfeios and Pinios pass. The Kapelis-Folois forest complex with an average height of 600 meters is a rich ecosystem with rich flora and fauna.
In the realm of ancient Greek mythology, the Pholóē oak forest was well-known, owing to its proximity to the numerous settlements that dotted the Elis region. The forest’s mysterious and captivating beauty stirred the imagination of the ancients, leading them to believe it was a realm inhabited by centaurs and dryads. This ethereal aura bestowed upon the forest the name Pholóē (Φολόη in Greek, pronounced as Folóï in modern Greek), while the chief of the Centaurs came to be known as Phólos (Φόλος in Greek). The dryads, who were considered the “oak spirits” of the forest, added to its mythical allure.
The predominant oak species within the forest is the broadleaf oak, scientifically known as Quercus frainetto, often referred to as the Hungarian oak. These majestic trees dominate the landscape, with heights ranging from 15 to 20 meters and lifespans that can extend up to two centuries. While Quercus frainetto reigns supreme, the forest also harbors smaller populations of Quercus pubescens, the downy oak, and the evergreen Quercus ilex, known as the holm oak. These diverse oak species contribute to the rich tapestry of the forest.
Among the towering oaks, lush ferns and delicate asphodels thrive, carpeting the spaces between the mighty tree trunks. This flourishing undergrowth adds an additional layer of enchantment to the forest, creating a harmonious blend of flora that further elevates the Folóï oak forest’s ecological significance.
- 4 Hours
Embarking on a thrilling hiking adventure through the Centaurs Gorge, you’ll discover a trail that’s nothing short of spectacular and truly unique. This moderate-level journey winds its way through a narrow passage, characterized by towering emerald walls that enclose you, creating a mesmerizing natural corridor. These verdant walls are adorned with an array of native small plants, their vibrant foliage nourished by the gentle embrace of moisture in the air.
The Centaurs Gorge hike is an exploration of the enchanting Foloi Forest, a sanctuary protected under the NATURA 2000 Network. Perched at an elevation of 688 meters on the slopes of Mount Foloi in Ilia, this forest covers an extensive area of 33,000 acres. It stands as an exceptional testament to the region’s ecological diversity and is renowned as the sole native broad-leaved oak forest in the entire Balkans. Within its heart lie ancient clusters of oak trees, their gnarled and weathered forms telling tales of centuries past.
Legend and mythology further enrich the allure of the Foloi Forest. In the annals of Greek mythology, Erymanthios Kapros, a mythical boar, descended upon these very woods in search of sustenance. This menacing beast wrought havoc upon the villagers, laying waste to their crops, and with its formidable tusks, it rent asunder any creature that dared cross its path. Even the formidable Centaurs, renowned for their prowess, found themselves powerless against this relentless terror.
In a feat of cunning and valor, Hercules devised a clever ruse to lead the ferocious boar into the heart of the Foloi Forest, where the Centaurs Gorge stood in its path. Here, the hero and his companions had cunningly laid a net to ensnare the beast, with the intent of capturing it alive and ultimately conveying it to Argos.
The total duration of this captivating program spans approximately 3 to 4 hours, covering a distance of 8.5 kilometers. As you embark on this unforgettable journey, the Centaurs Gorge hike promises not only a physical adventure but also a deep immersion into the rich tapestry of Greek mythology and the unparalleled natural beauty of the Foloi Forest. With each step, you’ll forge a connection with the timeless legends that have woven their tales into these hallowed woods, making this expedition a truly unforgettable experience.
What to Bring
Comfortable clothes (preferably quick-drying material: cotton or polycotton not denim)
Hat , sunglasses, sunblock
Waterproof jacket/membrane (for the rainy days)
Hiking shoes or hiking boots. A second shoes because they can get wet during the winter or rainy days
Water (at least 1 liter) & snacks
Experienced Guide, certified in first aid.
- Minimum 7 years and older
- Good physical condition
- Starting Time 10:00
- Ending Time 14:00
Cancellation Policy - Flexible
- Whenever you cancel 4 days or earlier than the confirmed activity starting date, your fee will be refunded for the entire activity charge.
- In case of cancellation within 48 and 96 hours before the scheduled activity starting date, you'll get 50% reimbursed.
- Those who cancel 48 hours or beyond are considered last-minute cancellations. There will be no refunds