Lefkes – Afklaki – Logaras
Distance: 8 km – Duration: approximately 2 hours – Elevation: 250 m
Text | Photos: Alexis Petidis
In every place there are hidden gems:
Beautiful and unique places that are almost never visited by outsiders because they lie outside the usual touristic routes.
In Paros one of these places is Afklaki (or Afkoulaki), a valley on the eastern side of the island with a unique landscape of terraced hills with olive trees and vineyards, an overgrown ravine with water running until the beginning of the summer, a welcoming church which is beautifully incorporated into its environments, and a fountain which is hidden inside the cypresses and oleanders with shade and tables for passers-by to rest… What else can one ask for?
Τhe route we propose goes through the whole of Afklaki. It starts at Lefkes, a beautiful mountain village that combines the Cycladic character with the neoclassic and continues through spots with extraordinary views, including a ridge with old windmills that overlook the village. There are also many options for the ending of the route. For a short trek it ends at Logaras. This is the version we propose here, but one can can also choose as destination Marpissa, Pisso Livadi, Golden Beach or Drios… There are also different choices depending on whether you choose to travel by foot or by mountain bike. We present them in the relevant section and in the map…
The route begins at the bus stop in Lefkes (spot 1), at the turn of the road coming from Parikia. We begin by taking the wide central road that leads to the centre of the village, but after 20 meters we leave it and follow the narrow street (kalderimi) that descends left. About 50 metres further it forks. Whichever direction we choose, we will soon arrive at a narrow asphalt road which we follow to the left until we arrive at a small square with cafés in front of the splendid church of Aghia Triada.
From Aghia Triada small wooden signs lead us through winding narrow streets to the edge of the village, to the starting point of the prominent Byzantine Road (spot 2), the most famous hiking route of the island (marked in orange on our map). We leave the Byzantine Road to our left and continue straight uphill on a paved road and by the church of Aghios Nikolaos, which is surrounded by a grove. We then find ourselves at a crossroads (spot 3) with a fantastic view, very close to the four windmills that look over the village. It is worth making a stop to visit them. (Those travelling by bicycle can reach this spot from a different route that goes through the central square of Lefkes, the parking lot above the square and the roundabout road that leads cyclists to the windmills. On our map this variation is marked in purple.)
At the crossroads there is a sign placed on an old building that says “Aghia Kyriaki”, pointing south to an asphalt road. This road soon turns into a dirt road and we find ourselves in the countryside of Paros: hillsides with stone walls, terraces with olive trees, vineyards, and lonely chapels. To the south we see the next highlight of the route: the white monastery of Aghia Kyriaki (spot 4). It is a monastery of the 17th century, restored some time ago, but usually closed…
Further down from the monastery we find another crossroads, at which we turn right. Soon we cross a flat ridge and arrive at the upper part of the valley of Afklaki. Here, about 150 meters from the crossroads, hikers can follow an old path cutting right and down the hillside to find again the road further down. The beginning of the path (point 5) is not distinct, but it follows a stone wall that descends among a cluster of olive trees. About 20 metres from its start you can distinguish it clearly, and although it is covered in places by vegetation, it remains accessible. Of course, one must always be careful! Cyclists and those who prefer to remain on the road can follow the dirt road that circles the upper part of the valley (marked in purple on the map), making sure to take a left at the crossroads.
Τhe path meets again the road after about 200 metres. We keep descending following the road for another 500 meters until we find on the right the chapel of Aghios Arsenios, incorporated in a unique way in the environment (spot 6). Its patio and welcoming terrace call us for a stop, but it is better to go down the white painted steps, cross the narrow riverbed, and follow a path that goes to the left until we find on our right the wide –and dry- riverbed of another stream, paved with large rocks. Going up this stream for about 50 meters among cypresses, oleanders, and reeds we find the fountain of Afklaki, with a welcoming pavilion and fresh water throughout the year (spot 7).
Αfter we rest at the fountain, we return to the dirt road and continue to slope until we arrive at a crossroads with a road sign for the monastery of Aghios Gheorghios. With its interesting architecture, great views, and a welcoming monk, this traditional monastery is worth a visit but keep in mind that the relatively unscenic route there, is uphill and about 2.5km. Choosing Logaras as our destination we continue to the left, passing the ruins of a small monastery which is worth a small stop (spot 8). We then keep going until we find the asphalt road that connects Marpissa with Tzanes (spot 9). There we turn right, follow the road for about 500 metres, and then turn left onto a wide dirt road (spot 10) that leads to the road of Marpissa-Drios (spot 11). If we take the left fork at the end of this dirt road, cross the Marpissa-Drios road and follow the road on the other side, it will lead us to the southern edge of Logaras (spot 12).