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Towering above the island, Mount Aenos is the highest point on Kefalonia, its peak "Megas Soros" can only be reached on foot, once there you are standing 1,627 metres above sea level. During the winter months the mountain is covered with a blanket of deep snow and often ice can still be found completely blocking the roads in the spring and early summer.

The range is covered by 'Abies Cephalonica', a rare species of fir trees found only on the Aenos Mountain in Kefalonia. In the distant past, the woods were so thick and dark that the Venetians called the mountain 'Monte Nero' (Black Mountain). In medieval period and when the island was under the Venetians, the firs were used for shipbuilding, these unique trees are now protected for their rareness and beauty.

In ancient times there was a temple devoted to Zeus at the top of Aenos, but unfortunately due to many earthquakes that the island has experienced over the years, nothing remains of it today.

Aenos National Park was established in 1962, Mount Aenos, higher than any mountain in the British Isles, looks down through thick pine forests to a luxuriant landscape of olive, cypress, orange, lemon, grape, corn and wild lavender. The mountain attracts many birds such as the Golden Eagle, a large number of Ravens, Hoopoes, Kestrels and Warblers.

The lower slopes of the National Park creates a refuge for the endangered wild horses, species 'Equus cabalus', who only survive by feeding in a wider area than the park constitutes. These endangered free-roaming horses (from the ancient Pindos breed) have a narrow body and have an expressive head with a rich mane and tail. Although they are difficult to find, some have been killed or captured. Unfortunately most local farmers consider them as pests. It is essential that they be protected from capture and harassment, as there are now only 18 left and although still successfully breeding they are virtually extinct.

A tarmac road winds it way up the mountain. As I stopped for a spectacular view of the Omala Valley, I could see clearly far below the old ruins of Valsamata village and St. Gerasimos Monastery. I was so high that I could actually make out the distinctive shape of the island. Both the West and East side of the island can be seen as you wind your way up the mountain with wonderful views of Sami and Ithaca in the distance. Beyond the radar station, which can be seen when looking up to the summit from below - the road deteriorates into an often dangerous and sometimes impassable track that winds its way around Aenos, this then stretches as far down as the slopes behind the hamlet of Arginia in the south of the island.

On entering the park the road is actually a very rough chalk track, a four-wheel drive vehicle is really the only suitable form of transport here and it is then a very slow 12km drive up to the summit. However, although a difficult journey it is certainly worth the effort, as from the summit above the clouds, at over a mile above sea level you will have on a clear day one of the most breathtaking views of the island that for most can only be experienced from inside an aircraft.
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As I stood on the mountaintop looking down on some soft white clouds, one just slowly enveloped me, then past on . . .

. . . an experience I will always remember on this truly magical island!


Update: On my return to the mountain in 2011 I discovered that the tarmac road has now been extended all the way up to the summit. Although it has made it easier to drive to the top of the mountain. In my opinion it has changed the atmosphere that I had experienced here in the past and taken away the remoteness and ruggedness of the mountain. I believe the authorities of the island need to consider very carefully any major changes made that could be irreversible to this amazing island.

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