The sun was burning down merciless. Although it was early September, the temperatures were well above 30°C in the shade. We left the car at Viklari Tavern and within seconds, we were covered in sweat.
From the tavern, we walked on a gravel road to the official start of the Avankas Gorge Nature Trail. There was not a single bit of shade on the dusty road. Even the first bit of the nature trail was just leading us through open plains. Finally, we found a bench under a huge tree and took a break. We felt as if someone had emptied a bucket of water over our heads, but it was just sweat.
Luckily, from then on the path was mostly in the shade, following the little river Avgas that had created the gorge. As the walking path allowed access to the river, we took off our shoes and dipped our feet into the surprisingly cool water. Dragonflies of all different colours rested on grass growing in the stream.
Our walk had been pleasant, but nothing spectacular so far, until we got to the beginning of the “real” gorge. Our way now led directly through the river and we were scrambling over rocks in the shallow water. On either side of the river, only about 4m apart, the rocks were towering several metres high into the sky.
Between these rocks, the air was cool and humid, much in contrast to the dry heat we had experienced before. Moss was growing on the wet rocks and different sorts of plants were growing along the sides, with their roots and branches hanging down. The clear water made beautiful reflections all around. Sunlight was reaching down into the gorge only in some spots, creating a mystic atmosphere. We could see the gorge carry on and on. The views in front of us and behind us were breathtaking.
Carefully we skipped through the river and across the rocks. As the deepest part of the gorge was coming to an end and the rock faces lining the gorge got lower again, allowing more sunlight and heat to enter, we took another break. Sitting on some rocks in the middle of the river, we dipped our feet in one of the many small pools formed by the boulders.
When we were well rested, we decided to turn around and take the same cool route back rather than emerging out of the gorge and walking in the sun with no shade around. Some goats were climbing the rocks to the side of the river. As we were slowly walking back through the river, we heard a some big rocks falling down from the top into the gorge. The echoing of the sound between the rockfaces made the rocks sound much bigger than they probably were. Some more smaller pebbles followed.
Slightly concerned, we decided to pick up the pace a little and move along the narrow bit of the gorge more quickly. When going to the gorge in windy or rainy weather, I’d definitely recommend to wear head protection!
After having walked back the same way we had come, we originally had intended to refuel at the Viklari Tavern. Imagine our disappointment as we found out it was closed on a Monday! Instead, we stopped at an empty beach on the way back in the car and took a refreshing bath in the Mediterranean Sea. What a pleasant finish after a hike in the heat!