Parnassos National Park
National Park of Mount Parnassos: The National Park of Mount Parnassos is located in the south-central mainland of Greece, close to Delphi and Arachova. It was created in 1938 and covers an area of 36 million square metres. It is the second largest greek national park, the first is Mt Olympus, and constitutes of an unusual ecosystem. Mediterranean vegetation, such as oregano, water-thyme, cedar, laurel and arbutus, is grown there. There are also pine forests and the predominant tree species is Abies cephalonica, a type of fir with sharp needles.
In autumn, all the forests of the area get full of bright leaves and a lot of wildflowers carpet the glades. Spring has similar features, although the new flowers are mixed with the snow patches, remaining from the winter.
The foot of the mountain is full of olive grooves, especially in the river valley of Pleisto, below Delphi, and in the Plain of Itea. The whole park is very interesting, full of ascents and descents among conifer trees with nice aroma, rocky limestone and mountain springs with potable fresh water. Needless to mention, the views are great.
The Parnassos National Park also has a wide variety of animals, especially birds. Many species vary depending on the time of the year, since some of them, like linnets, thrushes, woodpeckers, large raptors and robins, use to immigrate. Higher up, there are also orioles and birds of prey nesting among the rocks, such as vultures, harriers and golden eagles.
The preservation of these species is a serious subject and most are protected by International Conventions, while two of them, columba oenas and coturnix coturnix, are included in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. In fact, the whole National Park of Parnassos is taken as a Special Protection Area (SPA) when it comes to the conservation of wild birds. However, not only birds, but also plants and mammals are included in the list of endangered species.
Therefore, important measures should be taken, since many human activities, such as haunting, stock-raising, cultivation, skiing and house building, can become quite harmful to the natural environment, the flora and fauna of the park. Although the Parnassos National Park is not easily accessible, it has hiking facilities and refuges to make thinks more convenient for visitors.
The most usual way to get there is from the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth, but in case you come from Arachova, there is a path that climbs up to the park, ideal for mountain-biking.
Once inside the park, there are two available routes: both start with a road known as the Ancient Footpath: one of them goes to the west and the other to the south, but in the end they both get connected to the E4 trail. These routes are quiet, ideal for strolling around, taking photos and having a picnic. It is though highly recommended to have a map with you.