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Mount Parnon, habitats, flora and fauna

Parnon is the biggest mountain range in the Peloponnese and boasts truly incredible natural beauty. The wealth of flora and fauna -including the so-called juniperus drupacea, a cedar species unique in the entire European continent- the imposing ridges, the valleys, the ravines and of course the impressive gorges, create a landscape of unparalleled beauty.

The Gorge of Loulougkas begins from the beautiful scenic village of Sitaina and is essentially the first of a series of astonishing gorges. The gorge, which is created by the concentration of water from the River Vrasiatis, is considered to be one of the most impressive in Greece. The journey is awe-inspiring, with little lakes and waterfalls amidst the lush vegetation; impressive caves, like the ones of Karahalios and Kaliotzis, and a massive waterfall, whose waters drop from a 30 – 40 metre height. Visitors will have the chance to see the Byzantine castle of Zaggoli, as well as the Chapel of the Virgin Mary.

From the Gorge of Loulougkas, a series of gorges begins, uniting –so to speak- the peak of Megali Tourla, which is the highest of Mount Parnon, with the bay of Agios Andreas, in the Myrtoon Sea. This gorge is then united with the Gorge of Koutoupou, near Kastanitsa, and then with the gorges of Mazia, near Prastos, and Spilakion, to end up at the Gorge of Zarbanitsa.

Due to the uniquely beautiful and peculiar natural environment of Mount Parnon, many associations and clubs organize various tours and activities in the area, like hiking, rappel and cave exploration. This way the participants have the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent landscape and come closer to the greatness of nature.

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Habitats
In the region of mount Parnon there are more than 15 types of habitat. Some of them are unique or particularly noteworthy for the hellenic and european region, such as extensive woodlands of Pinus nigra, forests with Juniperous drupaceae in the Malevi monastery region, the chestnut trees in Kastanitsa, the coastal wetland of Moustos, south of Astros, the ravine of Dafnonas etc.


Flora
At first glance mount Parnon, with its “naked” tops dominating the landscape, seems “fruitless” and “poor”. In reality, however, the region hides a priceless flora. The geological history, the odd weather conditions and the intense dismemberment of many peaks, ravines, streams, etc., have created an impressive variety of ecological conditions, ideal for the development of many different plants.

In Parnon there is not yet a complete and systematic record of the plants, which would require several years of work. So far, the evidence gathered at the universities of Patras and Copenhagen, has formed a list with more than900-1.000 species and subspecies of plants.

Among the plants of Parnon there are many common species, but also many rare. Overall, they have been recorded and recognized until now 113 rare plants, some of which are unique in Europe, as local endemic plants of Parnon and some rare Asian species. Others are still endemic only in southern Peloponnese and Greece in general.


Endemic plants of southern Peloponnese that exist in Parnon
Greece is a country in Europe that is famous for its endemic plants. Some of these species or subspecies occur only in certain regions of Greece, while others are more wide spread. Mount Parnon displays rare plants for our country or Asian species which no other European country has.

In Parnon there have been recorded so far 69 species and subspecies that are endemic to the Peloponnese with little or endemic spread throughout Greece. There have been recorded 11 rare species and subspecies, with the most important Juniperus drupaceae and many others.


Fauna
The continued presence of humans in Parnon, combined with relatively easy access, has led to the gradual extinction of several species of fauna and especially of large mammals.

Generally, the endemic, endangered, rare and protected species of fauna are distributed as follows: 12 mammal species, 53 bird species, 2 fish species, 20 reptile species, 6 species of amphibians and 17 species of invertebrates.


Traditional Villages
Historically Preserved and Protected traditional villages of the area are:Paralio Astros, Agios Petros, Kato Doliana, Kastanitsa, Prastos, Platanos, Agios Andreas, Leonidio, Pragmateftis, Sapounakeika, Pera Melana, Tiros, Kounoupia, Poulithra, Vlahokerasia, Kerasia and Kosmas.


Accommodation
For your stay in Parnon, Arcadia, Mountainous Arcadia you can book a room in one of the hotels and Bed & Breakfast inns.
In Kosmas, Leonidio as well as in many other areas of the County, there are hotels and accommodations of various categories and types (rooms to let, residences, Bed & Breakfast inns, studios, hostels, guesthouses and furnished apartments) that can satisfy every visitor's demands and needs for a pleasant and enjoyable stay.
You will find wonderful hotels, rooms and apartments to let of all categories and price ranges.
You can find a list of hotels and rooms to let, as well as special offers for low cost holidays, in the list of lodgings in the area and the accommodation offers and deals.


Access
Access to Arcadia is easy by car through the existing road network.
One of its advantages is the short distance from the capital, and therefore a fast and low-cost access for many visitors.
The best way to explore the nature and sights of Arcadia is to have your own vehicle.
It's worth visiting places that public transport and the organized trips do not reach.

For your convenience, you can use the route map on the field “Routes” with information about the mileage, the time you need and the route you will follow, selecting the points of interest.
See details for   Access, Useful information, Transportation


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