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NATIONAL PARK OF 

MOUNT AINOS

 

Ainos National Park was established in 1962, its core or central area is 2,862 hectares being the smallest of Greece's National parks. Situated between to the towns of Argostoli and Sami. A tarmac road leads to the radar station with the most spectacular views of the Omala Valley, the 40 wells and the majestic Saint Yerasimos Monastery. From then on the road deteriorates into an often dangerous and sometimes impassable track that winds its way around the main mass, this then stretches as far down as the slopes behind the hamlet of Arginia in the south of the island.

Please take note - before entering - the ingenious, multilingual cartoon style signs on the right hand board, just inside the gates of the Park, especially note the warnings of fire danger.

As more and more people became aware over the years of how the natural environment was being used and abused with the landscape degraded and destroyed for many reasons, in turn including the disappearance of native species of flora and fauna. The Greek government began taking note of their own natural heritage in 1937. By 1938 the first National Park was designated on Mount Olympos. 'With the aim of protecting the flora, the improvement and increase of the fauna, the conservation of geomorphological formations and the protection of natural beauty and development of tourism'.

Regrettably this was for mainland Greece only and not the islands. Even today after all these years this still has not been the major priority of the National Park of Kefalonia.

The Park was established to protect the endemic Greek fir species, 'Abies cephalonica' which covers an area of 1,973 hectares, from crossbreeding. The dominion of these tall elegant trees, was once much more extensive. Decimated by forest fires during the 16th and 18th centuries, as well as being relentlessly logged by the Venetians, who made masts from the trees for their fleets of sailing galleys.

Of course there are other broad-leaved trees and bushes which groves among the fir trees including arbutus and heathers, almonds, pear, thorns and more. Over 646 hectares are covered in excellent shrub land, this is mainly on the neighbouring part of the National Park, Mount Roudi, on the northwestern mass of the Ainos mountain, which is crisscrossed with tracks and pathways. However on the higher rocky and more alpine areas of Ainos, there is a dominance of brushwood.

The lower slopes of the National Park create a refuge for the endangered wild horses, species 'Equus cabalus', who only survive by feeding in a wider area than the park constitutes. This mountainous landscape situated so close to the sea provides special significance to the Park, which is full of rare flora. Unfortunately the fauna of the Park is limited in terms of variety with only a few mammals such as the red fox, hares and beech marten for instance.

Albeit a good number of bird species can be found rock partridge, short toed eagle, owls, birds of prey as well as an array of songbirds, and of course the pride of the island, the black woodpeckers, which do not appear on any other Mediterranean island. During the winter months the mountain is covered with a blanket of deep snow and often ice can still be found completely blocking the roads in the spring and early summer. There are a few picnic areas and gazebos, one with swings etc. for the children to play. Its peak 'Megas Soros' can only be reached on foot. Although their is a fire watch station with some pleasing views for the less adventurous. This is situated next to the monstrosities of aerials that have been allowed to be erected. However, from the summit 1,628 metres you will have on a clear day one of the most breathtaking views, for most, sights like this can only be experienced from the dizzy heights of an aeroplane.

 

 

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