Walking on Lefkada is pretty safe if you take sensible precautions. There are hazards though – some of which are listed below. Some are unique to Lefkada so worth reading even if you are an experienced walker.
Always tell someone where you are going, when to expect you back, and what to do if you don’t contact them afterwards.
- Tough walking shoes or boots with a thick non-slip sole. Boots are best to protect ankles from rock and snakes – but not very comfortable except in winter. Assess risk for the terrain you intend to traverse. Never sandals, flip-flops or heels (unless in rucksack for beach).
- Full water bottles – critical when the sun is out. Lefkada streams are almost all dry except in rainy season (if not noted in the trail description assume no water).
- Sun hat / sun screen / high collared shirt – the sun will burn.
- GPS and map – can be on phone but best to have a reserve in case of low battery, damage or loss.
- Mobile phone – never let batteries run out as many trails have infrequent fellow travellers and this could be your only way to summon help. Dial 112 for emergency services.
- Long trousers and shirt sleeves – unless you are certain your trail has no vegetation or you don’t mind scratches.
- Sun. Very hot from mid June to mid September. Start very early or stick to short forest or coastal walks. On the hottest days hiking is only for the very tough – go to the beach or a boat trip.
- Other Weather. Thunderstorms can be very violent in the mountains. Stay off exposed ridges and tops or near trees. In winter rain, cold and wind can be extreme too. Take appropriate clothing. If unsure stay down on low trails only.
- Snakes. Reasonably common on Lefkada although most will slither away as soon as they hear you coming. Most are harmless, the only poisonous snake is the >horned viper which is brown with a black or dark brown diamond pattern on its back (and if close enough a “horn” or skin bump on its nose). If bitten by a viper go calmly but immediately to a doctor or the hospital in Lefkada town for the antidote. The victim should not walk unless able and that considerably speeds getting to a doctor. Be careful of fainting and don’t drive yourself. Call 112 for advice and ambulance. Fatalities, if treated, are rare. Never ever put your limbs into rock crevices or thick vegetation where you cannot first see. Use a stick to clear a path when walking through long grass. If a snake blocks your path go another way. Vipers are not normally aggressive but may defend themselves if surprised or cornered.
- Scorpions. Take care where you sit or place your hand.
- Aggressive dogs. Most sheep or goat flocks have watch dogs. They will bark furiously and more to defend their charges. Take a diversion or wait for flock to pass. There are stray dogs too but less common. If a dog looks likely to attack pick up a stone or large stick and make actions to use it. Be prepared to actually use it if attacked. The threat will often deter attack. Many remote houses and farm enclosures have dogs that will make much noise as you walk past.
- Other animals – there are wild boar but you rarely see them.
- Hunters. Often seen in all areas usually wearing high-vis jackets. Season is late August to the end of February and supposed to be only Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. If hunters are about it is best to stay away from thick undergrowth and trees and/or wear high-vis too.
- Thick undergrowth and trees. Pretty much everywhere except for paths, tracks and roads and the highest mountains. Never try to go off trail as most of it is impenetrable. This is why we started mapping.
- Forest Fire. Never light a fire or throw away a lit cigarette or match. In very dry summers there may be restrictions on entering forests.
- Earthquakes. Frequent on Lefkada usually minor. Read >earthquake tips for full advice. The main danger is falling rocks, landslips and buildings. If on a mountain slope be very alert for falling rocks or trees. Do not attempt to enter or leave a building. If inside move away from anything that might fall over to a hallway, against an inside wall or under a table. All modern buildings and many old ones are designed or retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.