NEW YORK -- In contrast to the leisurely island-hopping vacations
for which Greece is known, new escorted tours from Hellenic
Adventures, Minneapolis, and Cross Country International,
Millbrook, N.Y., promise vacationers a workout in the mountains.
A 10-night, soft-adventure plan from Hellenic Adventures,
Village Voyages and Mountain Wilds: The Unwritten Interior of
Greece, explores this rugged region.
Although activities are strenuous, Hellenic Adventures president
Leftheris Papageorgiou describes the program as "high end," with 16
a la carte meals, bed-and-breakfast accommodations. Group sizes are
limited to between eight and 14 people.
After the first night in Athens, the itinerary visits the
Papingo region, where travelers prepare themselves for the week
ahead with a 3,600-foot mountain hike to the Pindos refuge and a
trek to glacial Dragon Lake. The plan lasts seven to nine
The next day features a six- to eight-hour, 1,700-foot hike into
the Vikos Gorge, the second-longest gorge in Europe.
"I start them with the most challenging [excursions],"
Papageorgiou said. "What I tell people is, if you can walk at a
fast pace for four miles and not run out of breath with your
muscles aching, then you can do what we are asking you to do."
The tour visits the relatively untraveled Agrafa region, where
guests stay two nights in the village of Pertouli, spending a day
either horseback riding or mountain biking in the morning, followed
by canoeing on Tavropos Lake in the late afternoon.
During the tour's three-night visit to Mount Pelion and the
surrounding peninsula, travelers stroll through villages
characterized by winding, cobblestone streets.
"It is really one of my favorite itineraries," Papageorgiou
said, adding that he spent his boyhood summers at Mount Pelion.
"Even the Greeks," Papageorgiou said, "are just recently
becoming aware of [Agrafa]" as a destination. "The vast majority of
foreign tourists never heard of it and never go there."
The land-only price for the tour is $2,750 per person, double,
plus tax. Commission starts at 10%.
Cross Country International, a walking and horseback- riding
tour operator, added Greece this year with two treks, the Crete
Walk and the Culture Walk.
The operator also offers an inn-to-inn trail ride along the
Mount Pelion peninsula.
All Cross Country tours are commissionable at 15%.
The walking tours are priced at $1,050 per person, double, land
The Crete Walk features seven nights' accommodations and treks
into two gorges.
The Culture Walk, which travels through the center of the
southern Peloponnese region, offers six nights' accommodations and
explores the 13th century Byzantine fortress of Mystras.
Someone in average physical shape will be challenged by either
tour, according to Karen Lancaster, president of Cross Country
On the Crete Walk -- the more physically challenging of the two,
she said -- guests trek through the Samaria Gorge, Europe's longest
at eight miles.
"It's enormous and spectacular, like a Grand Canyon of Greece,"
The seven-night Aegean Sea Trail Ride tour includes swimming and
horseback riding. One departure remains, Oct. 20, priced from
$1,595 per person, double, land only.