Mt. Ainos National Park

Mt. Ainos is the only National Park situated on a Greek Island. You will find it on Kefalonia Island in the Ionian Sea! The park stretches over 3,000 hectares and its highest peak is Megas Soros that reaches 1,628 m. What is so special about this Park is that a single species of fir called Abies Cephalonica grows at altitudes of 600-1,600 metres and covers ⅔ of the park’s area. This endemic species was classified by British JW Loudon in 1838. As impressive as this forest might be you will also be amazed by your encounter with the small semi-wild horses (Equus caballus) which you’ll see mostly at the SE side of the mountain.

Mt. Ainos was first declared as a National Park in 1962 and houses the heart of Kefalonia’s biodiversity. Visitors and environmentalists flock to Mt. Ainos as it is the island’s most precious reserve. Hop into your car and head towards the mountain where you can explore nature by hiking.

Enjoy the following trails

The Environmental Centre of Ainos - Chionistra is an ideal fairly easy, circular hiking path of 6,184m. You will enjoy a hike in nature and a wonderful view along the way, starting and finishing at the Environmental Centre of Ainos that you can reach by car on a paved road. This pleasurable walk will last approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes if you don’t make any stops at the recreation areas you will meet along the way.

The Vlachata - Environmental Centre of Ainos trail has a moderate level of difficulty and reaches 2,065m. length. Start your excursion near Arias peak and enjoy your walk through the fir trees as well as the breathtaking views towards the S & SW part of the Ionian Sea. Your walk will last approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes and will end at the Environmental Centre of Ainos.

The Digaleto - Megas Soros path is 6,595m. long, it begins north of the Digaleto community and ends at Mt. Ainos’ highest peak. It’s a fairly easy to moderate level of difficulty hiking trail and you will need approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes to cross it. Enjoy your walk in nature as well as the wonderful view towards the Ionian Sea and the Peloponnese.

The Epano Eza - Melissi trail is of moderate difficulty and reaches 2,596m. in length. Your hiking experience will last about 1 hour and 30 minutes in a dense forest of Abies Cephalonica fir trees from Epano Eza to Melissi locations.

The Kissos - Petasi - (Nyfi) - Megas Soros - Kissos trail has parts of easy to moderate level of difficulty although considerable hiking experience is required at some locations due to steep slopes. This circular hiking path has a length of 8,640m. and you will need about 4½ hours. On your way you can visit the Petasi and Nyfi caves. When you reach the peak of Megas Soros you will be overwhelmed by the panoramic view of the neighbouring mountaintops Kroukoumpia and Chionistra as well as the islands in the south Ionian Sea and the western part of the Peloponnese. You will access the trail by dirt road.

Some historic pointers about Megas Soros

Mt. Ainos’ highest peak, Megas Soros, used to be an ancient sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Aeneas. It is believed that the name Soros (meaning mound) has derived from the ancient sacrifices of animals offered to Zeus, and their remains would form a mound after the ceremonies. The smoke produced during the sacrifice would be the signal for a new sacrifice to begin on the rocky islet called Dias SW of Megas Soros, as there is a direct visual contact between these two locations.