Natural Wonders of The World: Mount Olympus and Loggerhead Turtles, Zakynthos, Greece

The climb is not difficult in itself, but the mountain can be hazardous in bad weather. The beautiful scenery and stunning views make the effort worthwhile.

Natural Wonders of The World: Mount Olympus and Loggerhead Turtles, Zakynthos, Greece

By Mr Ghaz, April 21, 2011

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Natural Wonders of The World: Mount Olympus and Loggerhead Turtles, Zakynthos, Greece

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Mount Olympus

Steeped in ancient history, Mt Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece. Once home to the appallingly behaved principal ancient Greek gods, this is where Zeus stood to fling thunderbolts at anyone who displeased him. The archaeological museum at Dion is where Alexander the Great made sacrifices to the Olympian gods before setting off to conquer lands as far away as India. The lower slopes of the mountain have a rich variety of plants: more than 1,700 species have been identified here. It became Greece’s first national park in 1937 and is especially rich in wildflowers in late spring. The sides of the mountain are cloaked in forests of beech, cedar, oak and pine, in which bears, lynx and wolves roam.

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In ancient times, it was forbidden for humans to set foot on this mountain but the restriction was lifted centuries ago. The highest of the eight peaks, Mytikas (or nose) was first reached in 1913 by the local Christos Kakalos and Swiss mountaineers Frederic Boissonas and Daniel Baud-Bovy.

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The hike from Litochoro at sea level up this 2,919-m (9,570ft) giant and back takes most people two days. There are many trails up the mountain and refuges to stay at overnight, although you may need to book in summer.

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The climb is not difficult in itself, but the mountain can be hazardous in bad weather. The beautiful scenery and stunning views make the effort worthwhile.

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WHAT IS IT?

The highest mountain in Greece and the home of the ancient Greek gods.

HOW TO GET THERE:

By road or rail from Athens or Thessaloniki to Litochoro.

WHEN TO GO:

In good weather between June and August.

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NEAREST TOWN:

Litochoro 10km (6 mi).

DO NOT MISS:

The archeological museum at Dion at the foot of the mountain.

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Sunscreen, good hiking boots, a map, food and water, a sleeping bag and warm clothes are necessary.

Loggerhead Turtles, Zakynthos

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Of the eight species of sea turtle swimming the oceans today, the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) is the largest. Recognizable by its big head, reddish-brown shell and yellow underside, an average Loggerhead weighs more than 100 kg (220 lbs) and is 120cm (4 ft) in length. Greece is the only country within Europe where these turtles nest, and the sandy beaches of Laganas Bay, on the island of Zakynthos, host the largest nesting colony of this endangered species.

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Little is known about the life of sea turtles, particularly the males. We do know that they live for about 60 years, reaching reproductive age at about 30, and that Loggerheads make the longest migration journeys of all sea turtle species. Their strong jaws can easily crush their food-largely shellfish or jellyfish. Nesting females can be tagged to provide information about migration routes, but males never leave the sea.

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At night, between June and August, the female Loggerheads drag themselves up the beach to lay some 200 eggs in nests of 40-60 cm (1ft 4 ins-2 ft) deep, which they cover with warm sand. This process is repeated three or four times each season. About eight weeks later, the eggs hatch, and the hatchlings scrabble up through the sand and dash to the sea. After this their lives are unknown until, some 30 years later, the females return to the same beach to reproduce.

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In 1999 a National Marine Park was established in southern Zakynthos to protect about 6 km (4 mi) of separate, sandy beaches where about 900 turtles come to nest each year. Sadly, by 2004, the management body had ceased to function, and so many violations of the protection laws were occurring that the European Commission began legal action against the Greek authorities, who appear to feel that tourism is more important than protecting these desperately important breeding sites.

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WHAT IS IT?

The only European nesting grounds of the Loggerhead turtle.

HOW TO GET THERE:

By plane or boat to the island, then by car.

WHEN TO GO:

Between June and October for the Loggerhead’s reproductive season.

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NEAREST TOWN:

Keri

DON’T MISS:

The Blue Caves on the Skinari Cape; the Venetian Castle in Bohali; the Monastery of St George at Germna; the Strofadia islands 35 km (22mi) south of Zakynthos.

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14 Responses to “Natural Wonders of The World: Mount Olympus and Loggerhead Turtles, Zakynthos, Greece”
  1. Edsss Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

    It is so beautiful!

    Good research Mr.Ghaz


  2. Uma Shankari Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

    We really need to protect these species by safeguarding the breeding sites. Incredibly beautiful natural spots.


  3. CHIPMUNK Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Well done to your lovely article a usual you keep on hitting the correct titles


  4. CHAN LEE PENG Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

    You always bring us wonder in your articles. Thanks, Mr. Ghaz.


  5. C Jordan Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Zante is a beautiful island and I have been fortunate enough to see the turtles there and have swum in that bay in the photo with the white sand and shipwreck.


  6. Angelgirlpj Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Great pictures, I’d love to travel to see it for myself.


  7. Christine Ramsay Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    That is such a beautiful post. I have never been to Greece but would love to visit just to see these wonderful views and of course those amazing turtles.


  8. webseowriters Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    beautiful


  9. Baijayanti Pradhan Says...

    On April 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Interesting and amazing with beautiful pictures.


  10. papaleng Says...

    On April 23, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Excellent photos!


  11. neopisiva Says...

    On April 27, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Greeks have an amazing country,indeed.I’ve been there several times and I always find something new and more interesting then the previous time I have payed it a visit.
    Great article, not to mention the photos! :)


  12. PruandMe Says...

    On July 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Wow, I knew about Mount Olympus and the Greek gods, but I wasn’t aware that it was a real place!

    Um, shouldn’t this be two separate articles?


  13. Uma Shankari Says...

    On October 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I wish you would continue your wonderful posts…
    Revisiting…majestic and awesome.


  14. FX777222999 Says...

    On November 7, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Wonderful place and pictures.


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