Up bright an early to take in the Langada Pass. Craig was first up as usual and on a mission. The result was a smashing breakfast consisting of eggs, toast, bacon, sausages and beans. We drove to up the hill and out of Mystras following the sign posts to Kalamata. Since this is the ‘main road’, the roads were reasonably wide but with zero traffic, clearly this a road that is a main artery to life in the village hills. It is from the small village at the top we head between the mountains and turn on to the Langada Pass.
Most tourist traffic head around the coast and leave out the middle bit with the mountain pass but we wanted to do both. Our plan is to arrive at Kalamata and then hug the Mani coast from west to east. We are also hoping for slightly warmer weather on the west without the bitter easterly breeze.
The 70 kilometre pass that winds through the mountains has plenty hairpin bends as you ascend to 5,000 ft through the heavily wooded Parnon range.The mountain scenery is spectacular and there are plenty of places to pull over en route and admire the views, take small walks or have a bite to eat. At the peak, the tarmac soon starts deteriorating but the unsealed road was still reasonably smooth. We parked up and looked out at the tall and majestic mountains, wow and in autumn it certainly looked spectacular. The temperature at the top of the pass was a cool 8°C.
We had to watch the edges some were starting to crumble away, I guess its that time of year when the initial rains onset the landslides. The drive up the pass and down, was only precarious at certain points due to pending road repairs. However, the belly wobbles proved amalgamation of vertigo and wonder. The road on the whole in wide enough for two vehicles but there are points where it is so narrow that it seems that the mountains have reluctantly relented just enough width to make motoring possible. The main ones to watch out for are the rock canopies and overhangs. We were fortunate that we didn’t face oncoming traffic.
The descent from the pass into the Parnon Valley is even prettier. The landscape is verdant compared to the stone and rocky on Sparta side. We crossed the pass and slowly drove down and through the Valley. The cloud and haze started to descend quite quickly, so not as many photo’s as we’d hoped. It took us thee hours with stops and little jaunts here and there.
At the bottom we pulled over to find poor Tosh was not feeling too well. A mixture of eating stuff found on his morning walk and hairpin bends got the better of him. We reassured him, cleaned up the mess and then made our way to the beach.
That night as we sat over the pebbled beach at Mikri Mantineia, we remembered the last few days. We’d seen a lot of the Mani region but what we had seen, arguably its prettiest and most rugged, so far.
Our sleepy spot: Mikri Mantineia
Wild Camping GPS position Mikri Mantineia N036.980133, E022.150060
The following day we managed to move down to the coast and spend a day at the beach. Playing with the boys whilst the kind Greece sunshine dried all our washing. However, the sunshine didn’t last long and the following day storms arrived. Through thunder, lightening and torrential rain we made our back to Kalamata marina to take shelter with the crowds. Head down and ride the storm.
In the evening, I managed to speak with mum. It was lovely to hear her voice but amid the jumbled conversation she was very scared and confused. I managed to turn her tears in to laughter as I reminded her about good times in New Orleans. As I hung up the phone, I broke down in tears…I need to go home.
Our sleepy spot: Santova beach.
Wild Camping GPS position Santova N036.949320, E022.143393
Our sleepy spot: Kalamata marina