When I was planning alpine trio to the Eptalofos village of Mount Parnassus I did not imagine that I would end up hiking on dreamy trails, crossing spruce trees and discovering fairy caves. But n, my restless hiking spirit and the search for the unknown have woken me up and put me on new adventures! So the previous weekend finds me stuck in Parnassos’ hug to hike to Vargiani’s fairy cave.
Vargiani is a small stone village in the Fokida district. It is perched on the slopes of the Gerolekas peak on the invisible side of Parnassos and winks at the opposing peaks of Giona Mountain. The sign A remarkable traditional settlement at 51km of Amfissa-Lamia testifies that what we will see after a 4km snake road will leave us speechless. And indeed, we stay with our mouth open with excitement. This hamlet is a surprise and a revelation in our journey. Vargiani opposes mass tourism development. It is a small stone paradise. Authentic and picturesque with dense spruce trees surrounding it, the centuries-old plane trees sprouting in its running waters and its countless ornate fountains, marked my travel map as one of the most beautiful villages in our country. But my heart was also touched by the beautiful images that gave me the path to Neraidospilia.
THE FAIRY CAVE
Neraidospilia is located southeast of the village in the middle of the steep rock of the Karababa Mountains on the slopes of the Gerolekas peak and reaches 1426 meters high. It is a 100 meter long cave with ponds inside. It consists of two chambers with twelve touchstone basins, pools, and impressive formations with stalagmites and stalactites. In winter they always have water and in the summer months only some in the background. According to legends, the fairies of Parnassos lived here and the cave formations come from their aerial dance.
Many falls in the trap believing that the cave of Neraidospilia is just an attraction of the village of Vargiani. Between them, ourselves as well. But the cave is much more than an attraction. It is a wonderful mountain hiking trail. It is truly an amazing place and you can enjoy its unique natural beauty after a route of about 2 hours. Good fitness, proper equipment and patience are required. With much patience I had to arm myself in this adventure as I crossed my fears and I do not hide that many times I wanted to go back and enjoy the warmth of the village cafes. Maybe the inadequate equipment, the limited time, or none planning at all made me have existential questions of the type when I will arrive or what I will come across. Finaly, we tried and we did it! Of course, I do not recommend to anyone to follow our own madness and that’s why I want with this post to give you all that information that will help you to organize your own hiking route and live your own fairytale.
Starting from the fabled Bourbulla Springs, we follow the dirt road that leads us outside the village to Rachi place, from where you can see all the houses of the village.
Carve a panoramic of the stone Vargianis! Leaving behind us and the last houses of the village we continue until the junction with a secondary dirt road which we follow according to the indication of the marking. A few kilometers further down the entrance sign on the path of the Neraidospilia marks the beginning of our adventure. At this point we abandon the forest road and ascend the smooth ridge. The path at the beginning is wide and passable. But the continuity is more difficult than we expected. We are hiking on a steep slope with the ground becoming rough and slippery. The positive thing is that the signposts is visible all the way and it does not make it difficult for us to move directly and without delays. It is one of the clearest and cleanest paths we have walked, well-marked sometimes with yellow paint on the trunks of trees, sometimes with its guiding metallic square plates, and with the very auxiliary red and white strips on the branches of trees. The latter probably indicate of a mountain race. Admiration and respect to all who dared!
We continue our switchback path always heading east. Without time to be our ally, the thought of resignation swirled our minds. The landscape, however, is riveting. The huge fir trees rise around us and dark the midday light. In this scenery we appeared so small of the wonders of nature.
It’s a heaven on earth, how can we abandon it? Against logic, we continue. The path takes us to scree where on the right opens a window to the opposite mountaintops.
We realize that we have gained a little height and we take courage. After passing the stone screes the path leads to the nose of a rock. Down lays the col of Amblianis. A few minutes stop is necessary.
We smile at the panoramic view and continue. So far we have traverse more than halfway.
We are moving in labyrinths terrain with agony for where this route will take us until we finally get on a ridge. There was a pleasant surprise: yes, human life on the horizon! A group of three who enjoy the scenery welcomes us and gives us useful information.
I confess this was a push to continue. We still have half an hour for our final destination. We gather our weary and descend the spine.
A new wooded path opens in front of us. We follow the dense markings faithfully and end up with a small ridge.
From there goes the path, the most demanding part of the whole route. We meet the first rope, which is placed permanently in the vertical rock that we pass, with its help.
A large part of the route as we approach the cave, we cross it with the help of a rope which it is placed on the sides for greater safety. And finally, we see the impressive entrance of the Cave that is definitely more than 5 meters! With a look of excitement in the eyes we enter the world of the imaginary, in the mythical Neraidospilia!!
It’s dark and silent. We’re moving slowly and steadily trying to lighten up with our phones. We separate the first stone bowl , which it is completely drained. Likewise the rest bowls that follow are empty except the last one. The small pool gives us a dreamy picture of the cave with stalagmites reflected in its waters.
We won’t try to discover the other chamber. Besides, we’re not prepared for that. Enchanted by the inside of the cave and with plenty of pixie dust in our backpack, we take the way back.