A loop around the Lainaki mountain starting from Vournikas – a mountain village in the valley up above Vasaliki. The trail starts with a steep climb up and over a pass following an old monopati. After descending down the other side the trail contours around the mountain on a wonderful monopati and track. This gives wonderful views first north-east to Nidri then east and south over the Inland Sea finally looking back North to the high Stavrotas mountain. It is a challenging walk (with a steep climb of 400m to start) but very rewarding.
If you have a friend with another car or use taxis you can skip the steep climb by starting from the road above Alatro. This makes the walk one-way but includes most of the best views.
The trail starts in Vournikas village. A steep road zig zags up the village from the village taverna. Just as you go past the last house on the right the road straight-on turns into a track. If your car is small it is possible to park here – but please don’t block any tracks. The short track runs to Klimatas Spring with two white columns. Take the monopati climbing up immediately behind the spring.
The monopati climbs about 400m up to the ridge above the village. The path is very steep; in parts over loose rocks -so please take great care. The trail is marked with yellow paint over the first part to be joined by red paint marks higher up. Take either the yellow or red trail as they are heading in the same direction.
As you near the top you see the high pass you are heading for between the rocky summit of Lainaki and the northern mountain Koryfi. At the very top of the pass is a T junction with a track heading for a goat shed to the right. Take the track left for a short distance and then turn right on another track (now heading down the other side of the pass). Almost immediately take an indistinct path heading down across a series of grassy terraces. Keep going down through each terrace.
As the terraces start to become much steeper, keep over to the left hand side until you meet a good monopati path (just over a low wall running down along the left side of the last few terraces). Cross the low wall and descend on the very clear monopati down through the trees.
Descend until you see the well spread out houses of Alatro village just below you. At this point watch out for a second monopati turning very sharp right off the monopati you are descending. The second monopati is not quite as clear as the first so good idea to have a GPS map running to alert you to the turn. The second monopati drops steeply down to a surfaced road. Turn right along the road and go round a few bends past a couple of houses. You will reach a track turning right off the road. Note there are more than one tracks going right off the road. The one you want is by a rock outcrop with a power pole on top and a shrine box on the side of the track.
If you want to skip the steep climb over the pass you can start the trail from this point. You will need to use another car or taxi to get back from Vounikas.
You now start the contouring trail around Lainaki mountain – with the trail slowly descending as it runs around the hill with just a couple of short climbs on the far side. The views all around are superb. The trail starts as a grassy track.
After a short distance the trail takes the left fork track. Watch out as the fork isn’t very clear.
The trail becomes a monopati as it crosses the steep hillside. Take care on the rocky parts as the drop below the monopati becomes very steep. This section of monopati is wonderful. After about 1.5km the monopati turns back into a trail by a spring (water not accessible to walkers).
Keep going along the track for another 1.5km as it descends a little to reach a low pass on the east side of Lainaki. The track meets another at a T junction. Take the sharp right turn up the hill very shortly turning left again to continue following around the mountain. Go for another 1km or so keeping right as the track starts to gently climb again. Go over a low ridge and the track starts to descend again with the Vounikas village now visible at the end of the track with Stavrotas mountain behind.
Keep going down the track for about 1.5km. Keep going straight on (taking the lower left track at each of two forks in the track) until you come back into Vounikas just above the last house up the road. Turn down the surfaced road to reach the centre of Vounikas and a very welcome taverna.