Summer in Samothrace: Wilderness adventures for beginners

Samothrace

Eerie landscapes, waterfalls and forgotten beaches on the enigmatic island of the North Aegean.

Without a doubt, Samothrace, wedged in the Aegean Sea, is an island that conjures up images of a different Greece. Mountains with snow-capped peaks at times and eternally known for the dark Kabeirian mysteries of antiquity, Samothrace is proud of its wild natural beauty that divides the rugged, sandy island in two.

Around Samothrace, a different Aegean can be experienced.

Yes, it has the typical dynamic Mediterranean glow, but the landscape is different. The sea itself is different. Deep and full of foamy waves due to the endless currents from the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara, the sea changes rapidly in colour and mood, sometimes bluer and sometimes dark grey, always according to the moods of the sky.

Samothrace

Samothrace

Our main stop in this alien island landscape is northern Samothrace.

Here, a Samothracian forest spreads out, full of century-old plane trees that reach suffocatingly to the pebbled coastline, desperately searching for the last drop of fresh water on the ground and forming the terrestrial paradise of sparrows and birds that only leave here for a while with the change of season.

Samothrace

An ancient oak forest covers the slopes of Mt. Saos, which dominates the horizon. For some unknown geological reason, the northern Aegean seems to know how to protect its primeval forests well.

Who knows for how much longer?

In Saos, it seems that we are not the only ones enchanted by the awe of the highest mountain of Samothrace. As mythology says, first, Poseidon, wanting to watch the Trojan War, climbed to the top of the mountain to see from afar the burning Troy.

To be precise, Mt. Saos—a name derived from the mythical son of a mistress of Zeus—is the highest mountain in the Aegean (excluding Crete and Evia). It is also known as the Mount of the Moon, a name that perhaps attest its enormous height, which reaches 1,600 metres.

Steep canyons, steep ravines, torrents that run dangerously wild in winter, and small rock pedestals formed by frozen waterfalls—an ideal oasis of coolness in the hot summer—make up the landscape of the steepest mountain in the Aegean.

However, speaking of rivers and waterfalls, it is no coincidence that Samothrace is famous for the Fonias River, a wild stream on the towering Kleidosis waterfall that reaches a height of 35 metres.

Samothrace

Of course, this does not mean there are no other waterfalls in Samothrace.

On the contrary, the waterfalls of Karya, Kakia Plaka, Xiropotamos, Kremastos, Agistros, and many other small and large, known and unknown waterfalls constantly flow with the icy water of Samothrace and remain largely untouched by mass tourism.

Yianni Koutroudi is a columnist for Travel. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos.

READ MORE: The Nestos River: Wild beauty of an unknown Greece.

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