Canyoning the Orlias Gorge on Mt Olympus
It’s one thing wishing to explore Mt Olympus, the highest peak in Greece and home of Zeus and the ancient deities, and another doing it like a god. Well, you’re unlikely to come much closer to the sensation than canyoning the Orlias Gorge, in the eastern foothills of the mythical mountain of northern Greece.
Just the setting catapults this experience into once-in-a-lifetime territory, surrounded by the thick forest and gushing waters of Greece’s first National Park and a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve.
Rappelling, water-sliding, fly-foxing and abseiling down boulders might sound technical. In truth, however, it’s an experience accessible to all levels (from novice), with companies supplying all the equipment and knowhow in guiding groups of families and friends.
Most canyoning routes along the Orlias Gorge start from the town of Dion, heading out from the tiny chapel of Agios Konstantinos (with its picnic tables and benches and little water source). A short forest walk takes you to the gorge where you begin a descent of around 10 waterfalls (the tallest some 28m), freefalling into plunge pools from the smaller ones and slipping down natural water slides (including a 9m near-vertical drop and 16m horizontal slide).
You’ll be expecting the adrenaline rush, but you’ll also be filled with the feeling of peace and tranquility amongst all the incredible greenery and swimming in refreshing mountain water.
- By car: 420km (4hrs25min)
- By train: Catch a train from Athens’ main railway station (Larissis Station) to Katerini and then to Litochoro.
- By bus: To Katerini where you change for Litochoro.
- By car: 90km (1hr10min)
- By train: Direct from Thessaloniki Railway Station.
- By bus: Direct from Makedonia Station.
- By car: 428km (4hrs30min)
- By car: 90km (1hr10min)
Most providers offer canyoning expeditions from May-October (always dependent on the weather), with the experience being unsuitable during winter months.
You’ll get the best experience in:
- Spring when nature is in bloom, the air temperature rises every day and there is plenty of rushing water, colours and aromas of nature.
- Summer (most popular) when the combination of warm air temperature and refreshing mountain water create an invigorating experience.
- Start-End Point: The church of Agios Konstantinos (near Dion) or wherever stipulated by your experience provider.
- Duration: 6-8 hours
- Descent: From 770m to 550m (altitude change 220m)
- Age/Difficulty: (15+), medium
- There are sleeping and eating facilities at Koromilia refuge, around 8km - reachable by car - from the church of Agios Konstantinos (from where the descent begins).
- Litochoro has plenty of hotels and traditional restaurants and the added bonus of being very close to the sea, if you fancy a swim.
Litochoro and Dion are 1 hour’s drive from Thessaloniki, so perfect for a day trip.
All your technical gear (neoprene wetsuits, protective helmets, harnesses etc) will be supplied by your experience provider.
But make sure to bring:
The charm of canyoning on Mt Olympus is that it is a completely wild and unspoilt environment, so please help keep it that way.