Azilakas Forest Hiking Adventure

Discovering the Unique Azilakas Forest: A Hiking Adventure from Kournas Village

Nestled within the captivating landscape of Apokoronas in Crete, Greece, lies a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike – the Azilakas Forest. This unique ecosystem, named after the Azilakas oak tree, offers an unforgettable hiking experience that winds through ancient trees, picturesque villages, and historical landmarks. Starting from the charming village of Kournas, this easy hike unveils the beauty of the forest, the peaks of Dafnomadara, and the timeless villages of Kournas, Kastellos, and Patima.

Kournas Village: A Byzantine Heritage

The journey begins in the central square of Kournas, a village steeped in Byzantine history dating back to the second Byzantine period (961-1252). The village's churches, such as Agios Georgios and Agia Irini, bear witness to its ancient past, adorned with well-preserved Byzantine frescoes dating as far back as the 12th century. Kournas' significance continued through Venetian rule, noted in historical documents dating to 1356. During revolutionary periods, Kournas even served as the seat of the Revolutionary Government, adding layers of history to its quaint streets.

The Trailhead: Saint John Church and Azilakas Forest

Embarking on the hike, visitors can follow a concrete and slightly hilly path from the village square towards the Saint John Church. A yellow arrow sign marks the entrance to the Azilakas Forest, known for its towering Azilakas oak trees reaching heights of up to 25 meters. As you enter the forest, the dense vegetation creates a canopy, blocking out much of the sunlight, creating an enchanting atmosphere as you follow the path parallel to a gentle stream.

Exploring the Lush Forest and Villages

The circular route through the Azilakas Forest reveals the majesty of the oak trees, along with a diverse array of inedible mushrooms dotting the forest floor. The tranquil setting is a haven for nature lovers, offering a peaceful escape from the bustling world outside. Continuing on, the path leads hikers back to the Saint John Church, completing the loop.

Village Charms: Kastellos and Patima

As the trail winds through the forest, it offers glimpses of the surrounding villages. Patima, perched on a hill with panoramic views of Kastellos, the Gulf of Almyros, and the Episkopi plain, welcomes hikers with its historical charm. The origins of Patima's name remain a mystery, but its ties to Kastellos and Kournas are evident, forming the trio known as "Kournopatimata."

Historic Kastellos: A Fortified Hilltop

Moving onward, the path ascends to Kastellos, a village rich in history and once a Venetian fortress. Battles fought here in the 19th and 20th centuries are etched into its rugged terrain. The village's centerpiece, the church of Agios Nikolaos, stands proudly at its highest point, offering a glimpse into its past as a fortified stronghold.

The Azilakas Forest: Nature's Splendor

Leaving Kastellos behind, the trail leads westward towards the magnificent Azilakas Forest, named after the endemic oak tree that dominates the landscape. With leaves resembling those of the olive tree, the Azilakas oak stands tall, creating a verdant canopy. Descending into the valley, hikers are treated to a scenic route back towards Kournas village, meandering through 1.5 kilometers of lush, untouched nature.

Conclusion: A Hiking Haven in Crete

The hiking path through the Azilakas Forest offers a captivating journey through history and nature. From the ancient streets of Kournas to the fortified hill of Kastellos, and the serene beauty of the forest, every step unveils a new facet of Crete's diverse landscape. Whether you're an avid hiker or a casual explorer, this route promises an enriching experience amidst the tranquil beauty of Apokoronas. So, lace up your hiking boots, take in the fresh mountain air, and discover the allure of the Azilakas Forest for yourself.

 Discover Lake Kournas with Stelios Aleksakis: A Journey of Nature and Olive Oil

Embark on an unforgettable journey with Stelios Aleksakis, your guide to the natural wonders and olive oil excellence of Lake Kournas. Born and raised in this region, Stelios offers personalized hiking tours that unveil hidden waterfalls, ancient olive groves, and breathtaking vistas.

Immerse yourself in the sensory world of olive oil as Stelios takes you to local producers, where you'll witness the meticulous process of creating high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Taste and purchase his premium Patima Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a true taste of Cretan excellence.

Enhance your experience with a culinary delight at Pelagias Yard, Stelios's family restaurant in Kamvos village, where traditional Cretan cuisine meets the exquisite flavors of Patima Olive Oil.

Stelios's deep connection to the land ensures sustainable practices throughout the tour, emphasizing the importance of preserving the local ecosystem. Engage in hands-on olive oil education as he shares insights into olive harvesting and processing.

Let Stelios Aleksakis guide you on this journey of discovery through Lake Kournas, where nature's beauty and olive oil excellence converge. Experience the essence of Crete with a passionate expert, and uncover the rich traditions of this remarkable region.

For more information visit Patima EVOO site -