Hiking The Mythical Polilimnio Waterfalls In Greece.

Away from the beaches and the historical wonders of Greece, the Peloponnese hides a mythical land of lush greenery, interconnected lakes and spectacular stepped waterfalls, and a hike to the Polilimnio Waterfall from Kalamata revealed much more than just spectacular scenery.

This is a paid article written in partnership with Mythical Peloponnese, with products or services supplied by them. Full editorial integrity is maintained at all times. The views and opinions expressed are entirely the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and as stunning as the beaches and the coastline of the Peloponnese are, the region also holds a bounty of rich beauty further inland, a treasure trove of natural wonders that have barely been discovered by mass tourism that are just begging to be explored. A need for some adventure combined with a desire to explore this stunning region a little more in depth led me to the hidden waterfalls of Polilimnio.

Hiring a qualified guide in the area is of course an absolute must, and a quick but essential safety talk was swiftly followed by some imparting of expert knowledge of the history and natural flora and fauna of the area as we set off on a gentle walk through the fields and meadows that led up to the gorge itself. This is of course were hiring a knowledgeable guide, who also happens to be a pretty good storyteller, really pays off and just adds that extra layer to the experience.

This part of the hike was easy and enjoyable, listening to tales of how locals have used these mountains and forests to hide from bandits, warring city states and anyone who would do them harm for centuries, being taught how to spot the local olive oil trees by someone who actually farms, and literally stopping every few feet to smell the roses, or in this case natural heather and thistle, as the entire landscape exploded in a riot of colourful wildflowers and wildlife around us. With so much untamed nature, It was easy to see why, despite the addition of a seemingly well trodden path in recent years, this area was almost completely untouched by civilisation until a couple of decades ago when local villagers discovered the waterfalls during a search for a missing girl. The girl was thankfully found, and one of the Peloponnese’s most stunning natural gems became a popular hiking spot.

Slowly but surely we moved deeper into the forest. The nice, gentle path tapered off, and the slow trickle of water began to reveal itself in the form of little streams and brooks. The trees and vegetation grew wilder and more sporadic, growing naturally over the increasingly mountainous terrain, and the trail itself began to break up, disappearing almost entirely to the untrained eye and forcing hikers to use rocks as stepping stones or hop over slowly trickling water.

Nothing worth seeing ever comes easy, and the trail so far had lulled us all into a false sense of ease.

It felt like the Artemis herself was playing with us, the goddess of wildlife and vegetation just giving us tiny glimpses of what lay ahead but still trying to hold the waterfalls beauty back a little, saving the best for those who made the effort.

It wasn’t long before that effort was rewarded.

The Polilimnio Waterfalls.

The Polilimnio Waterfalls are a stunning area of outstanding natural beauty located in the southwestern part of Greece, near the city of Pylos. Nestled in a lush, green forest and surrounded by tall trees, visitors to the land can almost hear the whispers of the ancient nymphs and dryads through the wind rustling leaves, and the naiads – mythological water nymphs – playing in the cascading waterfalls and emerald green lakes, showing themselves as graceful maidens calling out to brave travellers to dance with them near the water but too shy to actually be seen directly.

The name itself, Polilimnio, means ‘many lakes’ and you will see just how literally descriptive the name is as you start to hike the trails leading through the forest and the fifteen crystal clear interconnected lakes and waterfalls, each one willing to entice you in for a cooling dip.

It was after the first lagoon that the hike really began to get more challenging. Wooden bridges gave way to steep natural steps in the rock, footholds became increasingly difficult on the wet stone and the paths themselves became nonexistent. This is where the hike switched from easy to intermediate very quickly.

Expecting a relatively easy hike this part of the trek was quite a surprise. Still imminently doable for anyone of moderate fitness, it is certainly not fit for anyone with mobility restrictions or who has difficulty with exercise! There were sections where balance was key, where sure footing was needed to clamber over a rocky outcrop or jump over a small stream. But to reward those who had made it this far the crystal clear lagoons got increasingly beautiful too, gushing water full from recent rains and the water a stunning shade of translucent turquoise.

It was at the final lagoon that the true challenge of the naiads was laid down to the mere mortals who had made it this far. A simple choice, to swim or not to swim. To fail the challenge simply meant that you were rewarded with stunning views and allowed to descend back down the trail with an appreciation for the beauty of the waterfalls, a simple parting gift from the naiads, but to accept the challenge meant braving the icy depths of the water nymphs themselves, a challenge that only the bravest of mortals could attempt.

Of course, I didn’t hike all this way to simply turn back, and stripping down to my swim shorts I perched on the natural rocky outcrop jutting out into the lagoon, held my breath, and jumped.

The freezing temperature hit me like a thunderbolt from Zeus himself and my entire body instantly went into cold shock response! I fought the shock instinct to breath heavily while still underwater and I could feel my heart rate increase, pounding inside my chest as my mind forced my legs to kick and to resurface. That initial gasp of air was just short of instinctual hyperventilation and I could feel my muscles tighten and my skin tingle under the ice cold water as my blood rushed to the surface!

Vaguely hearing a distant command to kick my legs and swim, my mind began to recover from the shock and my body automatically obeyed the order and started to move. I realised after a long moment that it was my guide who was shouting for me to swim, and I did, allowing the waters icy touch to recede as my body got used to the cold, as if the water nymphs themselves were begrudgingly rewarding the initial bravery of the jump with the ability to enjoy their realm.

It was a hard climb in places, and a real shock to the system jumping in the water, but I felt like Heracles himself when I climbed out, fully feeling the physical and mental benefits of cold water swimming, a true gift from the gods!

Essential Information.

Starting The Hike And Getting There.

The small, charming village of Charavgi, a short drive from Kalamata, is the starting point of all hikes into the Pelilimnio Gorge. You can get there yourself or there are tours that can pick you up from surrounding areas including Kalamata.

What Do I need To Pack?

Not much at all. Wear swim shorts and a T Shirt or a Swimsuit under your clothes with a sturdy pair of sports shoes or trainers with a good grip. Bring a towel, some water and some dive/swim shoes, and that’s really it.

Hike Difficulty.

The hike is often referred to as easy but this is in reality an intermediate hike. Much of it can be done by anyone with a good, basic level of fitness, but there are parts of the trail that are challenging to climb and not possible for those with mobility issues, and there are parts of the final section that are steep and can be dangerous.

A hike to the Polilimnio waterfalls is an absolute must if you are in Kalamata or the surrounding region, and should definitely be done before it becomes too popular!

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

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Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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16 comments on “Hiking The Mythical Polilimnio Waterfalls In Greece.
  1. Michelle says:

    I’ve been to Greece a few times but only the islands, this looks like an amazing place!

  2. Jane says:

    This doesn’t look how I imagined Greece to be at all!

  3. Donna says:

    I would love to do a trek like this but don’t think my ankles could manage at my age!

  4. Hotelier Syl says:

    Hiking the Polilimnio waterfalls in Greece seems like an enchanting experience! It’s inspiring to read about the hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations like this one that Greece has to offer. Your tips on hiking trails and the practical information provided will surely be helpful for anyone planning to visit. Thank you for sharing your adventure and encouraging us to explore the lesser-known treasures of Greece!

  5. Helen says:

    I would love to do this, what guides did you go with? Do you have to book in advance?

  6. John Burscough says:

    When you said mythical I was expecting Zues and Hercules!

  7. Kate says:

    What an amazing adventure!

  8. Alisha says:

    What a beautiful place!

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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