Two thousand four hundred and seven vertical meters come between the seaside village of Kardamili and Profitis Ilias peak, the summit of Taygetos, the roof of the Peloponnese. This is no ordinary mountain. West Mani is blessed with a landscape so diverse that can keep you busy for a lifetime exploring it. Mountain forests and meadows, steep slopes and rocky ecosystems, early wild flowers and the strong scent of the herbs will fill your heart and senses with pure joy. Hiking, mountain biking, trekking and climbing at the mountains’ hillsides or gorges, are just some of the many options you have!
Taygetos is the highest mountain range in the Peloponnese with its peak (Profitis Ilias) reaching an altitude of 2,407 meters. It is a unique environment of tremendous natural value that has been designated as a ‘Special Protection Zone’ at European level (officially GR2550009 ‘Mount Taygetos-Lagada Tripis’). Taygetos is a mountain young in age that is still developing, rising each year by one centimeter; therefore, we do not know which will be its height over the centuries and which generation will see it taller than other mountains.
The name is one of the oldest recorded in Europe, appearing in the Odyssey. In classical mythology, it was associated with the nymph Taygete. This is also the classical Mount Taleton mentioned by Pausanias, in the second century AD and the peak was dedicated to Helios, the Sun and Zeus. Taygetus overlooks the cities of Sparti and Kalamata, whose skyline it dominates.
Golden eagle, king eagle, eagle hawk and pheasant eagle are perhaps the most well-known of the 32 protected bird species that together with endemic flora and reptile species compose the unique mosaic of Taygetos biodiversity.
Researchers have recorded, according to the latest calculations, more from 6.500 types of plants in Greece, among which 1.150 are not found elsewhere in the world. Compared to its surface, Greece has the richest flora in Europe. The 2.500 types have been recorded in the mountains of Peloponnese. In Taygetos the big alternation of biotopes has as a result the flourishing of 600 types of plants (without having completed the recording yet), among which more than 120 are Greek endemic plants, that is to say they grow in Taygetos and at least in one more Greek mountain.
Thirty-two (32) of these are mountain endemic, that is to say unique in the world. This rich flora proves the uniqueness of the mountain and of the region, while the flora is rich in aromatic plants (oregano, mint, thyme, tea, lavender, etc).
The hiking trails are maintained and waymarked every year before the summer season by 2407 Team, with gentle manual means. This work is essential for the safety of the visitors.
The trails pass through Vyros gorge which, apart from its natural beauty, stands out due to its historical significance, as the ancient Royal Route that connected ancient Sparta with the port of Kardamili passed through it.
The Doubitsia Traverse is also an emblematic hiking section, as it is located in a protected area (Natura 2000). It is a plateau with a special flora where the natural landscape blends in with remnants of past times, terraces, buildings and cisterns. One of the ‘secret’ corners of Taygetos which, not unjustly, has been designated as a ‘Wildlife Refuge’.
Of course, the gorge of Ridomo must be added to the top routes, a route of incomparable natural beauty, where the hiker will admire the various stone formations and colors, combined with the flora of the area and the aquatic element, which compose an imposing environment.
If you want to explore this magical historical mountain, all you have to do is join us! We are the 2407 Outdoor Experience Team, named after Taygetos’ altitude, professionally active in the west Mani region since 2008 and we are really looking forward to guiding you through all the mountain secrets!