Mt. Olympus: A Celestial Ascent
Winter is coming! And we’re not just talking dragons, either! Although, venture high up enough and you may just catch a glimpse of some mythical monster or other (if you do, we’re almost certain that you hallucinated on account of the sparse air). We’re talking Mt Olympus; the mystical home to the 12 deities of ancient Greece. And while the absence of whitewalkers is more than welcome, one can’t say the same about signage. But we’ll get to that some other time, eh.
As the season progresses, Mt Olympus becomes ever more appealing for outdoors lovers. A Unesco World Heritage site since 1938 (the first in Greece) and a Biosphere Reserve, Mt Olympus certainly enjoys the protection and admiration it deserves.
Some 100 bird species and more than 30 amphibian ones dwell in the mystical foothills of Mytikas; the highest peak in the mountain range. In addition, there are foxes, wild cats, jackals, deer and wolves. The flora is spectacular, too. About 1,700 types of plants exist there, including the Bosnian pine tree, found higher up the peaks.
Climbing Mt. Olympus ought to be what running the original Marathon is for professional runners. One can only assume that Sir Edmund Hillary might’ve found his match, had he tried climbing it.
But how do you get there and what’s the deal? Well, Litochoro is the base camp village from which you start. Its proximity to Thessaloniki (about an hour) means that, invariably, your trip will start there, up north. Be warned, though: the winter season envelops everything for seven to eight months up until May, so factor that in to your decision.
Apart from that, Mt Olympus and its several peaks are an absolute dream to hike and traverse. Through creeks, gorges and ravines, over stone bridges and rivers, the Pantheon beckons. Those who know, climb, those who can’t, write.