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Mount Olympus is one of the great treasures of Greece. It is a famous geographical site, as well as the subject of many stories and myths. The 2 August marks the anniversary of the first time it was climbed successfully in 1913, and every year tens of thousands of people travel to the mountain to climb it. Mount Olympus’s Mytikas peak rises to 2,918 metres, or around 9,573 ft, and is the highest point in Greece. It is also the second highest peak in the Balkans, and one of the highest across all of Europe.’Mytikas’ means ‘nose’ in Greek.
The summit of Olympus was reached for the first time on 2 August 1913 by Swiss duo Frédéric Boissonnas and Daniel Baud-Bovy, who were assisted by a mountain guide called Christos Kakkalos.Kakkalos remained the official guide of Olympus until his death in 1976. It is estimated that around 10,000 people climb Olympus every year, with most of them only reaching as far as the Skolio summit.
Olympus was notable in Greek mythology as a home of the 12 Greek gods. The nine Muses, daughters of the god Zeus, were traditionally placed in the region of Pieria, at the mount’s northern foot.
Olympia was thought of by the Greeks as a metaphorical place as well as the physical mountain. The region was declared Greece’s first national park in 1938. The aim of this was ΄the preservation in perpetuity of the natural environment of the region, i.e. of wild flora, fauna and natural landscape, as well as its cultural and other values. In 1981, Olympus was proclaimed ‘Biosphere Reserve’ by UNESCO.
Olympus is known for its exceptional biodiversity, with 55 peaks and several deep gorges. The entire Olympus area covers around 500 square kilometres, in a circular area with a circumference of 80km.The area contains 32 species of mammals, 108 species of birds, many species of reptiles, amphibians and insects.
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Departure from Litochoro at 4 p.m. to Prionia at 1,100-m high. We start a 3.5-hour hike up to the “Spilios Agapitos” refuge. It's a distance of approximately 6km and about D+950m. The longest part of the path is in a forest of thick pines which, along with the beech and fir trees, give a special charm to the area. We sleepover at the refuge.
Early morning we start hiking. After leaving the vegetation of Rombola trees behind, we follow the E4 path for about 4 hours and D+800m, through a barren alpine landscape up to the Skala peak. Weather and strength permitting, we will proceed on the Kakoskala path up to Mytikas, Mount Olympus highest peak, or Skolio, its second one. We descend back to the refuge for lunch. Late afternoon we return to Prionia.
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