A strip of vibrant nature!
In the northwestern part of the Peloponnese lies Strofylia forest. An amazing natural reserve has grown on this tiny peninsula, separating Lake Prokopos from the Ionian Sea by a thin strip of pine trees.The forested area and the adjacent Kotychi Lagoon have created a fascinating mosaic of seaside natural habitats. Through time, sand dunes along the coast, sculptured by the waves and the sea currents, have formed Prokopos Lake, Kotychi Lagoon and the Strofylia Forest, creating an exquisite natural environment. It is a national park of 22 km² which is part of the Natura 2000 network and is protected under the Ramsar Convention.
This unique ecosystem of great beauty is the perfect example of pristine Greek nature: a pine forest next to the sand and the deep blue sea. The woods teem with flora, mostly pine and shrub species providing shelter to a bustling wildlife population that includes tortoises and turtles, foxes, hedgehogs, jackals, otters, birds such as owls, and waterfowl such as coots and kingfishers.
As you take your first step into the forest you will feel your senses heightened. Close your eyes and breathe in. The rich scent of pine, cedar, thyme, myrtle and sage will make you feel rejuvenated and relaxed in body and mind. Walk along the forest trails through the stone pines (in Greek ‘koukounaries’) after which the forest was named – Strofylia means koukounaria. Soon, you will see the sand dunes by the sea. This beautiful sight is the work of a westerly wind called ‘Maistros’ which has created the dunes’ particular wavy form throughout the entire beach area.
The waters are a natural fishery for sea basses, flathead mullets and eels. Next to Kotychi lagoon and Lake Prokopos you will see Papas [Pope’s] lagoon. A story about this wetland (‘Papas’ is greek for Pope) speaks of the fresh gilt-head breams which were caught in the lagoon and shipped to the Vatican during the period when the area was under Venetian rule.
For those of you who like birdwatching, bear in mind that Kotychi is a stopover area for many migratory birds, as this location lies on the birds’ west migratory route. Here you will spot herons, glossy ibises, swallows, hoopoes, hawks, turtle doves, terns and many more. If you are a hiking fan, you will enjoy your visit to Strofylia as there are many trails going through the reserve, past knolls such as Mavra Vouna (in English ‘black mountains’). The view will make your journey worthwhile.
From Patras, head towards Kyllini, turn to Araxos, then to Strofylia and Kalogria beach. It is a 45km distance from the centre of Patras.