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Kerkis mountain at Samos island

Kerkis mount at 1.434 m., the second highest mountain in Aegean Sea

Samos has two main mountains that cover almost the whole island. Westward is Mount Kerkis and in the center of the island Ampelos is spread out with a broader range.

Mount “Kerkis” extends its peaks high above the west side of Samos at 1.434 m. Its name was “Kerketeus” according Strabo, “Kerkitios” according Plinius and “Snowy Mountain” according Nikandros. It is the second highest mountain in Aegean Sea  after “Feggari” or “Saos” in “Samothrace“, with height 1.611 m. (excluding the mountains of Crete and Evia).

According to author Ep.Stamatiades the mountain’s name derives from the Greek verb “κέρκω” that means “hit with noise”, and it is referred to the sound that the waves produce when they are crushing on its craggy coasts. Another view is that the name has been given after “Kerketes”, tribe from Asia Minor who came as miners.

Its highest top is Vigla in 1.434 m., around it, there other peaks,such as “Prophet Helias”, “Zastano”, “Diemen” (Ntemen Aga), “Mademia” and more, with altitude more than 1.000 m..

Kerkis is literally a huge rock. As it is completely dry, it is a very unfriendly and difficult place to trek. For this reason, people have lost their way back, many times.

Kerki’s mountain sides are rugged rocky and they end up smooth, eastward to Karlovassi valley, it then stretches southward to Velanidia’s and Marathokampo’s valley and to the point that “Kerkis” and “Ampelos” mountains meet, in the village of Agii Theodori. In these areas, the ground is fertile, with thick forest acreages, and many water sources.

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Karvounis or Ampelos mountain at Samos

Mount “Ampelos” or “Karvounis” highest peak in 1.153 m.


Karvounis or Ampelos mount at the top Prophet Helias

The little chapel Prophet Helias at the top of Karvounis mount in 1.153 m.

Mount “Ampelos” or “Karvounis” it’s the second mountain of Samos. The second name is more common and it derives, probably, from charcoal production that used to take place on this mountain. The name “Ampelos” had been given because of the abundance of vineyards. Although in ancient times, Samos was not so famous for its wine.
Its highest peak is “Prophet Helias” in 1.153 m. with a little chapel to honor the saint. The mount located in  the central region and the eastern part of the island.Strabo claimed that this mountain is the reason why the whole island has highlands. 

In general, “Ampelos” is a less rigid mountain than “Kerkis”, with fertile ground, gentle slopes, plateaus and just a few craggy areas across the ridges. On high, formed large plateaus  that at the end of the 19th century, covered with vines and other crops.
The water foundations were always adequate to cover all the needs of the area (nowadays, water supplies are primarily used for the villages and irrigation for crops).

In the south of the island the mountain spreads across the biggest valley of the island, the valley of Chora village (where airport is), spread across 1.200 hectares and  the second biggest valley is Messokampos  of about 250 hectares. There are also other, smaller flatlands in Kokkari and Vourliotes.

On the mountain the road network consist of agricultural paths and dirt roads that lead till the top of the mountain. These routes start from the surrounding villages (VourliotesStavrinides, Ampelos, Pandroso, Manolates and more).

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Comments (2)

  1. You can hike up to Kerkis mountain different ways, you can take the long beautiful walk from Pythagoras cave, which takes few hours (and is totally worth it) or you can go from the other side of the mountain and be at the top in about 2 hours tops. The view from up there is just breathtaking.

  2. I walked to Kerkis mountain already, albeit very slowly on the down climb, 5 months after a total knee replacement. Started at 6 AM and was back drinking a beer in the village at 3 PM, spending lots of time at panoramic views and talking with workers at the monastery. The hike from the turn off to Pythagoras’ cave takes you through a myriad of ecosystems and a great variety of perspectives. Bring more water than you think you’ll need. Take your time and follow the blue/red trail markers when encountering scree. I stopped in a cloud at the second false summit while my companions wrested their way to the top. The goat bell symphony that plays from the necks of scores of goats at the summit is a unique experience. Oh, my aching bones.

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