Located in the Northern part of the island of Karpathos, Greece is a unique village known for keeping their morals, customs, and traditions. The women even still wear their traditional costumes every day. Olympos is located 37km from Pigadia, the Capital of Karpathos. Accessible by sea, and only most recently by car, the mountain on which the village is built was once called Olympos. It’s now known as Profitis Ilias after the church that sits at the top. Olympos remained isolated from the modern world for many years due to lack of roads and difficulty communicating with other villages. This, in my opinion, is what has made this place so special.
I only had one day in the area but already dreaming of returning. You must park at the top of the village and then get out to walk. The cobbled stone streets are narrow and lined with various shops, restaurants, and even places to stay. You can find local items such as honey, leather, and art. There’s no surprise there’s also shops dedicated just to tourists. One of my concerns for this area was just that. Over tourism. What happens if they keep coming? Will the village and it’s 350+ residents be able to keep with traditions or will it simple go away as it has in other parts of Greece?
Thankfully for Olympos and it’s community there are people living there dedicated to keeping the area protected and preserved. During my visit, I had the opportunity meet with Evangelia, one of the owners of Ecotourism Karpathos. This up and coming tour company is dedicated to sharing the beauty of Olympos with it’s visitors but also allowing them to truly immerse themelseves within the culture all while learning about the nature around them. Ecotourism Karpathos provides activities such as olive picking, bird watching, hiking, nature photography, beekeeping, and even participating in a traditional cooking lesson in the home of a local.
After walking through the village, we had the opportunity to meet with Evangelia’s mom, Sofia, to learn how to make the traditional pasta of Karpathos -Makarounes. This was such a fun and personal way to connect, build relationships, and most importantly learn alongside locals. The photo below is probably one of my favorite photos ever taken of me. Usually, I pick out every flaw, as many of us do. This photo was different. The look on my face is nothing but pure joy and truly ‘living in the moment’.
I can see why people are drawn to Olympos. With stunning mountain slopes, cliffs, and gorges there’s beauty in the surroundings. Most importantly, there’s beauty in it’s people. Language barriers don’t prevent smiles from being shared. Visitors are welcomed with open arms as locals are ecstatic to share their magical village.
About Evangelia-Marina of Ecotourism Karpathos
Evangelia – Marina is a native of Karpathos. She has studied Geography at the University of the Aegean (2006-2010) and then completed a master’s courses on the “Environment and Development” at the National Technical University of Athens (2010-2012) and “Travel and Tourism” (2016-2017).
With a great love for Karpathos, she decided to start programmes of ecotourism with the aim to transfer the love and respect she feels for her place to the visitors, but also to create the experiences which will help them be integrated into the local community as equal members.