This blog aims to give a personal and totally biased view of the Greek islands I have visited. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the islands. Two aspects of Greek islands that I love are seeing goats wandering around and the dawn chorus of cockerels crowing. Accordingly, each island I have stayed on will have a Cockerel Count and Goatiness rating.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Should you wish to purchase a license for commercial use of my images please follow the link to my stock photography blog where you will find details of my agents. Comments are welcomed but reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Nisyros 2015 (Dodecanese)

A line of Octopus at Mandraki on Nisyros island
Whilst staying on the island of Halki for the third time in June 2015 (see previous post) I decided that, as previously, I would take a day trip to Nisyros island to experience yet again the chance to walk in a still active volcano crater.

The only current way to do this (as far as I know) is to take the Dodekanisos Seaways fast catamaran Dodekanisos Express which makes a twice weekly round trip from Rhodes to Kos with stops at  Halki, Tilos and Nisyros on the way. Just get your tickets in advance from one of the agents on the harbour front such as Zifos Travel (agents for Olympic Holidays). You could book online yourself I suppose providing you had access to a printer to print out your tickets. At just over 40 euros I was a bit surprised at the price - I'm sure it was a lot less last time - but do look out for special offers that Dodek Seaways run from time to time.
Old stone tower on Nisyros

From past experience the ferry will probaly leave Halki around 10 (so not too early a start) and be back around 5 (just in time for a glass of Retsina/Mythos).

This really is a great trip as the catamaran is fast and powerful, cutting through the Aegean in no time. Best of all you can travel up on deck in the fresh air. Either at the stern where there is seating or for a real adrenalin rush head up to the bows of the craft to feel the rush of wind and sometimes sea spray hitting you in the face. Don't forget to take any hats off or they'll be gone in an instant! The first leg of the journey takes you to Livadia harbour on Tilos and is around 45 minutes. Unless it is misty you'll probaly still be able to see Halki far in the distance. After a very quick turn around the Express sets off again for the 40 minutes or so to Mandraki harbour on Nisyros.

I was glad to find nothing had changed at Mandraki and sure enough there was the familiar stand selling coach tickets for the volcano trip (at 8 euros these seemed a bit cheaper than I remembered). Chances are the trip won't depart right away and you will have some time to explore the town first -just be sure to return to the harbour on time. This gave me a chance to wander round the familiar streets taking lots of photographs. This is where I struck (photographers) gold when I spotted a whole row of Octopus hung up to dry on a line outside a taverna. I say gold because, though just about every guide to Greece seems to have an image of Octopus on a line, I had never come across this before -not on any of the Greek islands I have visited. Not a chance I was going to miss then!

Stefanos volcano crater on Nisyros island
Octopus and THAT stone tower thing (lighthouse/fort whatever) duly photographed it was back to the harbour to board the coach to the volcano. This is quite a ride as the coach climbs up the steep and narrow road and you get some great views. If you don't like heights you might want to sit on the other side of the coach. After a half hour or so we arrived at the volcano. Now here was something new to me. They've set up a ticket booth to buy tickets to visit the crater. Previously there was nothing there (apart from a cafe) and I realised that might explain why the coach trip was cheaper. Nothing drastic -around 2 or 3 euro but remember to have enough cash on you for this. I don't blame them at all - it's another way of getting some income into the Greek economy and is a pittance to pay for such a great experience.

Moon like surface of  the volcano crater on Nisyros

Some of the coach trips come equipped with a guide who will tell you all about the volcano. This trip didn't have one (perhaps that's the real reason for a price difference?) so I was just free to get on exploring at will. Ignore the signs warning you that you enter the crater at your own risk (another new addition!) and make your way down the (fairly) steep path to the crater surface. The surface was just as exciting as I had remembered, a barren alien like environment (indeed this was the "moon" location in the James Bond film Moonraker). Hot under foot and a powerful smell of sulphur wafting round you. Dotted around you will see yellow splodges of sulphur crystals and small blasts of hot steam will emerge from the ground. In the centre of the crater were deep fissures (fumaroles) full of gently bubbling hot mud.

Dodekanisos Express powers into Mandraki on Nisyros
In a second concession to health and safety a wire on stakes had now been placed around these. Really, there's nobody going to stop you going in and having a closer look (maybe a guide might?) but, anyway I'm British and respected that "fence"! Expect to get around 45 minutes or so to explore and photograph before heading back to the coach. Note you should only enter the signposted crater (Stefanos). There are a couple of other smaller craters near by which I was previously told are not safe to enter.

And so, after my third brilliant volcano experience it was time to head back to Mandraki and await the Express making its return run to Rhodes. Don't worry about missing this - the coach driver will be well aware of what time it leaves and get you there in plenty of time.

Having now done this three times I can say that it really is an unmissable experience and one that should tried if you are in this part of Greece. If you are on Rhodes, Halki or Tilos you can use my route via the Dodekanisos Express. If on Kos, I am sure there will be trips from there to Nisyros.

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