Inside the gorge: 120 years of travelling, a unique journey through time and space.

From the legendary train called “Mountzouris”, a steam engine dating back to 1895, to the state of the art trains of the 21st century, Odontotos crosses the gorge, sometimes whistling, other times gasping, through one of the most beautiful and remarkable railway routes globally.

120 years old, Odontotos is after all considered to be an “endemic species” of the Vouraikos Gorge, not only by being completely incorporated into the natural environment but also as a living organism of what the gorge is today.

As it has always been there, our “living train” can tell lots of stories along with all his friends that for so many years show their tender loving care to the train.

We wish to Odontotos many more happy journeys!

The train

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From shore to snow. The more the inclination of the train tracks, the more the train sharpens its teeth. And when the ascent begins, the Odontotos shows its strength, climbing up the mountain side with an inclination of 17,5 %, swallowing kilometers. Since 1896, the train covers a journey of 22.350 meters in length and 750 meters altitude, travelling from the seaside of Diakopto area to the snowy mountainous village of Kalavryta, on a gauge just 75 centimeters wide, marking the narrowest rack railway in the world.

120 years, and still young! The construction of the railway started in 1889 by the government of Charilaos Trikoupis, prime minister of Greece at the time, as part of his vision for a railway junction between Diacopto and Tripoli. Unfortunately the difficulties were huge as the money wasn’t enough to cover the expenses. The train tracks reached only Kalavryta. The first scheduled journey of Odontotos in the gorge was in 1896 having King George the 1st as its first passenger. Odontotos was mainly used as a mean of transport for people, merchandise and often as a channel of hope and escape. The Odontotos rack railway, famous and renewed, operates currently as a touristic attraction for a dreamy passage through the gorge.

Three generations, three seasons. The first generation of trains were steam engines, widely known as Mountzouris, where launched in 1891 with four French steam locomotive engines “A. ES. CAIL”, using saturated steam, followed in 1952 by a German engine and another Greek one (SPAP) in 1954. The second generation of trains were diesel engines which included three French BILLARD engines in 1959 and three more DECAUVILLE in 1967, which extremely reduced the journey’s time from two and a half hours to 85’ minutes. In 2003 a major renovation of the network and the infrastructure, took place suggesting a new modern era of advanced technology and security with the introduction of the Swiss STADLER railcars, offering 67’ minutes of travelling magic.

The journey

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Diakopto is the starting point of our journey, the cheerful home of Dionysis Papagiannopoulos, a beautiful town in the Aigialeia Municipality with an impressive mating between sea and mountain. A serene city with a mild climate, surrends to the sea breeze and the scents of citrus trees. Starting point of the Odontotos as also many trips to the other parts of the Aigialeia region full of unexpected experiences of nature, culture, tradition, history, products, taste and enjoyment (Aliki, Tsivlou lake, Trapeza, Zarouchla, Fteri, Lakka, Taxiarches, Tripiti, Agia Triada, the ancient theater in Aigeira, Plataniotisa, museums, wine roads, the tree of Pausanias, Oinoxeneia festival).

The Vouraikos gorge is our route. Its many attributes, creates a spectacular narrative: The beautiful gorge of Vouraikos (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), with a protected and particularly valuable flora and fauna (Natura 2000 areas), part of the National Park of Helmos-Vouraikos, part of Geopark Helmos-Vouraikos (recently integrated into the European list and the Unesco Geopark international directory), part of the production areas of the finest products PDO Vostitsa raisin and PDO Roditis wine, ascends from the distant past (1896) the unique Odontotos train in parallel with the European Path E4 (major hiking paths), offering a double crossing adventurous experience, either on foot or by the rail.

Kalavryta is the end of the journey, the mountainous historical center of the region. Proud as it was the headquarters of Frankish barony, headquarters of Byzantine Despotato, starting point of the uprising (1770) and national revolution (1821 Agia Lavra) but also mourns when slaughtered and burned by German troops in the holocaust of December ’43. A martyrs village, but its beauty never dies, lying there all the seasons of the year, creating a top tourist choice along with the other attractions of the Kalavryta Municipality (Agia Lavra, Mega Spilaion, Ski center, Planitero, Kertezi, Lakes Cave, Pausanias vine, Ladonas, Leontio, Ancient Loussoi, Kleitor and Psofida).

The festivities

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Spring is in the air! Rebirth of nature, colors and scents.

This year though, we are also celebrating Odontotos. 120 years old now, Odontotos invites us to visit his home, the Vouraikos gorge, in order to celebrate all together. Thus, in his honor we created a new tradition, a hymn to Odontotos and its natural environment. The districts of Aigialeia and Kalavryta, all the organizers and supporters of the project including the complete support of TRAINOSE united with a common love, created a common proposal to highlight the uniqueness and value of Odontotos as a mean of transport, as a touristic attraction and an element of culture, along with its harmonious integration in the exceptional natural environment.

But, mainly, we will enjoy the inner peace and calmness offered by the experience of a journey through Vouraikos gorge, a magical journey in place and time.

Programme

Information

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Special Odontotos fares, May 2016, for schools.

For all schools, Monday-Friday: EUR 3.30 per route and person.
Information-reservations: tel. Diakopto station +30 26910.43206, Kalavryta station +30 26920.23050
Offer: TRAINOSE

Special Odontotos fares, May 2016, for groups.

For groups of 6 passengers or more: EUR 3.30 per route and person. Tuesdays 10, 17 and 24 May and Thursdays 12, 19 and 26 May.
Information-reservations: tel. Diakopto station +30 26910.43206, Kalavryta station +30 26920.23050
Offer: TRAINOSE

Special Odontotos fares on, Sunday May 22.

For Sunday, May 22, World Biodiversity Day: 30% discount for all.
Information-reservations: Diakopto station +30 26910.43206, Kalavryta station +30 26920.23050
Offer: TRAINOSE.

Buses for the Gorge Passage, Sunday May 8.

Diakopto-Zachlorou departures: 6:45, 8:15 and 9:45.
Tickets: 3,00 euro.
Reservations: Tel. 26913.60700, Ms. Korosieti, Monday-Friday 08:00-14:30

Informing school pupils and visitors groups about Odontotos (free).

“The history of the Odontotos”.
Contact: Giannis Karapanagiotis, President of the “Friends of Odontotos”, tel. 6973.346903, Diakopto.

Informing school pupils and visitors groups about the Vouraikos gorge (free).

“The Helmos-Vouraikos Gorge and the biodiversity of the Geopark”
Contact: Management Body of Helmos-Vouraikos, tel. 26920.29140 Monday-Friday 09:00-14:00

General information

DI.Κ.ΕP. Aigialeias +30 26910.28210, 68308 | Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00

Contact

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Contact details

Tel. DI.Κ.ΕP. Aigialeias +30 26910.28210, 68308 | Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00

E-mail ensirmo ( at ) gmail ( dot ) com

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Design and implementation: DI.Κ.ΕP. Aigialeias, Kalavrita Municipality

We thank the Association of Odontotos Friends and Mr. Zachari for the kind offer of photographic material.