VIRTUE AND HATRED
The beginning of Hercules footsteps..
When Hercules was a young adolescent, before his achievements, he followed the path of righteousness at a crossroad in his life. This road was narrow, bumpy and full of difficulties. But it enlightened him and matured him spiritually and physically.
- Small walks in ancient ‘healing’ paths
- Visit ancient theater
- Theatrical improvisation
- Olive tree of Hercules (2500 years old!)
- Olive oil tasting
- Panoramic view
- Treasure hunt,
- Snorkeling and swimming, lunch.
On our first day, our destination is the birthplace of the modern medicine that comes from the father of doctors who is Asclepius. You will experience the sanctuary of Asclepius, the most famous healing center in ancient Greece-Hellas. Part of this healing center is the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus in which during July and August you can see live ancient Greek plays with English subtitles.
We will take a short walk through olive farms to admire the “twisted tree of Hercules”, an olive tree to which the traveler, geographer and historian Pausanias refers in his writings (2nd century AD). The myth says that Hercules himself twisted the trunk of the tree with his bare hands to take its form. Continuing we will walk the path of “Iasis” (health), an ancient trail (approx. 2km, difficulty level: easy) in a pine forest with archeological treasures. In ancient time pilgrims passed from here to be healed through the God of Asclepius and his sacramental ceremonies seek healing. This path was considered to be therapeutic and you never know, while you are walking on it you may find or hear more secrets!
To your choice we will go up Mount Kinortio to the sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas, where the first sanctuary of Asclepius was located. Enjoy the panoramic view at this non-touristic ancient site.
During our hikes you will get guidelines on the spot to learn more about Hercules labors, and the symbolism behind it. We will do a treasure hunt: find the hidden object and learn why Hercules chose the path of virtue.
Later we will return to the place where your whisper or the sound of a falling coin can be heard on the top row of the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Here we will improvise wearing white robes and a crown of olive twigs, to start our journey of virtue like Hercules did.We will end our day at the “Sunken City” in the village of ancient Epidaurus at the beach. We put on our snorkel masks to swim and explore the remains from antiquity that can be seen only 2 meters under water.
Lunch at the beach with fresh fish.
Overnight in Nafplio
THE LION OF NEMEA-LABOR 1-
At his first labor, Hercules has to confront the Lion of Nemea, a gigantic beast, which no weapons could puncture its skin that was like steel. Hercules managed to strangle it with his bare hands. He took the Lion’s skin as a trophy, and wore it to protect himself.
- Small walks/or cycling with spectacular scenery, vineyards
- Archeological site- run in ancient stadium-
- Treasure hunt,
- Wine tasting (The area has more than 40 wineries to visit we know the best of them)
- Temple of Hercules (The only one in Greece)
- Mycenaean Cemetery
Today we will visit the Lion’s cave and as Pausanias refers to, the slopes of Mount Tritos. We will have a small walk (3km, difficulty level: easy) and a treasure hunt where you have to find a hidden object. And while enjoying the spectacular views you will learn all about the symbolism behind this first labor of Hercules.
Later we will visit the significant archeological site of Ancient Nemea and the popular Stadium where the ancient Nemean Games were held. The cultural society of Miller is organizing these games again, following the ancient rules and rituals. We will see this local cultural society, and you can try yourself to run, bare feet, in the Stadium like the ancient athletes did and the 8000 people from all over the world who attend this revival of the Nemean Games every 4 years. According to the myth of the child Opheltes, you will wear a crown of victory made of wild celery.
Nemea is also known for its high quality wines. In this P.O.D (Protected Origin Destination) region, wine is produced since antiquity. Especially the Agiorgitiko red wine is famous, also called “The Blood of Hercules”. Learn how wine is produced, and taste the blood of Hercules yourself, as well as other wines. Try another product of this well-known area:
The Corinthian Raisins that are high in nutrition and vitamins.
Very close to us is the temple of Hercules, the only one in Greece, a very important stoppage point on this day! And as today’s adventures will have built up our appetite, we will have lunch in a nearby village.
From there it is only a small walk to a Mycenaean Cemetery which is worth a visit. We will walk through the vineyards and lush greenery because of the many springs in this area.
Overnight in Nafplio
THE LERNEAN HYDRA (The water snake with nine heads)-LABOR 2-
About the labor
The Lernean Hydra is an immortal giant monster with the body of a snake and 9 heads. It was the second labor of Hercules. At the region of Lerna the hero gave a lethal battle which, with the help of Iolaos, destroyed the beast that terrorized the region. He killed this water snake finally in a clever way by cutting and burning each of its heads.
- Visit citadel of Tiryns (UNESCO World Heritage)
- Hiking ancient path, panoramic sea view, picking herbs,
- Rest at legendary river of Lerna, picnic, archeological site, treasure hunt, theatrical game inspired from that snake beast with 9 heads.
- Visit fish village and ruins of a real pyramid.
- Lunch in Lerni with the best souvlaki in the area.
We will begin the tour today at the citadel of Tiryns, one of the several UNESCO World Heritages in Greece. Here, important palaces which were similar to those of Mycenae and Troy existed. The myth says that the walls were built by the one eyed monsters, the gigantic Cyclops. And Tiryns is the place where king Euristheas gave his orders to Hercules to carry out the labors, and promised him immortality.
After our visit, we will walk approx. 2 hours (4km, difficulty level: medium) on an ancient path in Kiveri. You can always choose out of a variety of walks, up to your physical condition on our tours. On the walk today you will enjoy panoramic sea views, pick herbs of the area, and see old settlements. Our destination is the temple of Artemis that played a significant role in the ceremonies of ancient Nemea.
We will have a rest and a picnic at the legendary river of Lerna and take a dip in the water.
We will visit one of the most ancient settlements in the area, the village of Lerna. Near the marshy lake of Lerna is considered as one of the most pre-historical places of Greece, since the archeological site has brought into the light discoveries from the Neolithic period (5500-3500) (with onsite museum).
On this day we will learn about the symbolism behind this labor through a treasure hunt and theatrical game.
Then, what else? Food!We will try the most famous souvlakia (skewers) of the region, hearing the sounds of the streams of Lerna, under the shade of plane trees.
After that, let’s enjoy our coffee in a nearby fish village where locals hang out and we can see two more important sightseeing of the area. Ruins of a real pyramid and the old way that locals use to wash their carpets in old times.
Overnight in Nafplio
THE HIND OF CERYNEIA-LABOR 3-
Hunting the deer/hind of Ceryneia is Hercules’s third labor. It is a labor with a lot of walking and a “mountain” of achievements! Our hero must have really sweated while hunting this quick footed innocent animal, a deer with bronze hooves and golden antlers/horns (symbol for superior knowledge). He had to bring it back alive to Eurystheus and could not kill it.
- Mountainous scenery, picturesque villages
- Old watermills, evergreen forest, fountain of the fairies, 1771m altitude, panoramic views, alternative easier walks
- Treasure hunt, picnic, lunch,
- Visit the unknown city of Argos with archeological hot spots.
Today we will find the Hercules in ourselves!
We will visit the picturesque village of Karia with the old watermills which are located on the slopes of Mount Artemisio, the mountain of Goddess Artemis (the goddess of hunt), where our hero hunted the Goddesses sacred animal.
The path begins at the beautiful plane tree forest in the village, beside the riverbed where once many watermills were operating. Going through forests with evergreen trees, we will pass by an oak tree that is centuries old to which Pausanias refers in his writings (2nd century AD), and the “fountain of the fairies”. Our hike ends at the peak of the mountain, at an altitude of 1771 meters, the highest mountain of the Argolida prefecture. There we will be amazed by the spectacular view.
On our walk you will have to find the hidden object and learn more about the symbolism of this labor of Hercules.
For something not so extreme, we also have alternative shorter and easier walks from which we can choose for today.
Our walk will definitely open up our appetite! What better way than to have a picnic under the magical plane trees in the forest for lunch. Alternatively: lunch at a village tavern.
We will end the day in Argos, the oldest continuously inhabited city of Europe (7.500 years). A place not to be forgotten. An important kingdom and through history the Argives have played a significant role. We will visit the Ancient Theater, Agora, Larissa Castle and the Archeological Museum
Overnight in Nafplio
THE ERYMANTIAN BOAR-LABOR 4-
We will learn everything about the fourth labor of Hercules today. It all has to do with a monstrous aggressive boar, which was a gift of Goddess Artemis to Erymanthus, a mountain in Arcadia, where it terrorized everything and everyone. It destroyed the whole natural environment of the area with its gigantic teeth, all flora and fauna, and because of this human society. Not even the Centaurs could go up against it. Our hero, together with his friend the Centaur Folo managed to capture the boar alive, in the gorge of Folois. Somewhere there in that earth-paradise you will find out what the symbolism is behind this labor.
- Breathtaking scenery, gorge,
- Theatrical game, treasure hunt,
- Lunch, in a local farm with organic sourced food
- Culture, history,
- Environmental museum.
Today’s hike is on a magical trail through the gorges where the Centaurs taught their techniques. Here are the breathtaking waterfalls of Lemutas located. We will find ourselves at the several waterfalls which fill the forests of Folois. The walking tour will last about 3,5 hours (9-10km, difficulty level: medium) and we will end at a tavern in the village of Lemutas for excellent local food or in a nearby farm with organic sourced products.
At the end of the day we will learn more about the culture, the history and the nature of the area during our visit at the environmental museum of Folois and finally will visit the birthplace of the famous Olympic games, Olympia.
Overnight in Olympia
THE AUGEAN STABLES-LABOR 5-
Who would be able to clean the huge stables of Avgea, with 3000 cows, in one day? Who else but Hercules! In his fifth labor Hercules proves that he is not only divinely strong but possesses ingenuity and astute mastery.Hercules used two rivers to clean the stables, the Alfeio along with the Lousios River. We will ride one of them, the Lousios River… by doing rafting (4 hours). This way, by using the river, we will have a unique scenery and view of the impressive gorges and waterfalls.
- River rafting
- Unique scenery, gorges and waterfalls,
- 13th century castle
- Lunch in a local tavern
- Vegetable garden, pasta workshop
- Treasure hunt
And as the water of the rivers cleaned the dirty stables of Avgea, these same waters will cleanse us “internally” giving us the feeling of adventure and catharsis/inner purification. Continue on we will visit the graphic town of Karitaina and the local castle from the 13th century, built by the Franks. Later, Kolokotronis, the national hero and leader of the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Turks (1821) found a safe place here and survived a battle.
We will enjoy our lunch at a local tavern that has its own vegetable garden and a local workshop where they produce pasta: We will learn how they make them and of course will taste them straight to our plate!
Overnight in Krioneri-Corinth
THE STYMPHALIAN BIRDS-LABOR 6-
Man eating birds with bronze wings, and beaks and talons of steel, are the next challenge (6th labor) for our hero Hercules: he has to fight the Stymphalian Birds.
With the help of goddess Athena, his protector who with her wisdom advises him in order to achieve his labors, Hercules used a bronze cymbals to scare and lift the birds out of the bamboo around Stymphalia Lake so that he could kill them with his bow and arrow. In this way the residents of Lake Stymphalia were safe again.
- Stymphalia Lake & Feneos Lake
- Unique habitat, wetlands, flora and fauna
- Environmental museum
- Visit monastery & taste the handmade traditional “sweet spoon” from roses!
- Splendid views,
- Lunch with live music inspired from the bronze cymbals
Today we will follow an ancient path (1,5km, difficulty level: easy) which will lead us to this lake, where the son of Zeus battled the birds. It is a small an interesting path in the heart of Stymphalia.
Our tour of the region will continue with a visit to the new environmental museum of Stymphalia where we will be informed about the vegetation and wildlife of this unique wetland and habitat of many amphibians, birds and plants.
A few kilometers further, the lake of Feneos has its turn, a hidden paradise of the Peloponnese. We will walk around the lake (approx. 1 hour) and visit local monastery that is situated at the slopes of the mountain. The friendly monks will give us their special treat: traditional “sweet spoon” made of rose buds. An enjoyable rest, with splendid views of the lake and the surrounding area as well.
We will finish our day with the best and prototype way: Lunch accompanied with live music and sounds inspired from the bronze cymbals
ENTERING HADES (THE UNDER WORLD)
Probably the most scary and most difficult one of Hercules’s labors: his entrance to Hades, the Under World, from where no mortal returns. He had to kidnap the Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates to hell.
- South of Peloponnese,
- Caves of Diros one of the most beautiful caves in the world
- Boat tour, unique scenery, most southern point of Europe,
- Cape of Tenaro, sea views, short walk,
- Learn the rest 4 labors of Hercules
We will also travel to the Under World, but with the difference that we will have a ticket to return…
We will go to the south of the Peloponnese and visit the Caves of Diros, possible one of the entrances to the world of Hades, the king of the death. With a boat we will tour through one of the most impressive caves of Europe. Here we will admire the unique decoration of stalagmites and stalactites, and have thousands of tons of earth above our heads. A truly shocking trip into the land of Hades and the surprises don’t end here…
By car we will travel the most southern point of Europe, to Cape Acrotirion. Passing the graveyard, which is yet another link to the land of Hades, we will reach the path that in approx. 30 minutes (2km, difficulty level: easy) will take us to the lighthouse of Cape of Tenaro, the lighthouse that helps many sea traveler by shining light on their journey.
Here we will have time for a rest and some inner reflection, while enjoying the amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea
End this tour with lunch or cooking class learning the rest 4 labors of Hercules.
What did we learn from the symbolism behind Hercules’s labors? And did we find our “road of virtue” after this mythical journey?
Overnight in Githio