Apart from sun and beaches, can you think of Greece as a sports destination? Indeed, over the last years, there is a large effort to present the vast opportunities that the country offers in extreme sports.
Trek along the forests all over Greece, try rafting in rivers, flying fox over gorges and ancient sites, climbing against abrupt rocks... In fact, many sports companies organize such extreme sports and adventure tours all over the country.
Loukia Leonidou is the product director of Trekking Hellas, one of the leading companies in organizing extreme sports in Greece. But, how was this company created about 25 years ago, in a time when such sports were not at all popular in Greece?
"Everything started in 1986 on a peak of the Himalayas, where the decision to establish Trekking Hellas was taken", told us Mrs Leonidou. "Mihalis Tsoukias and Christos Lambris, both mountaineers, decided to leave their occupations and make their love for nature and adventure a permanent job. The idea was that as people go to Nepal for trekking, they can also come to Greece, a country with amazing mountains, good climate and rich in culture. So, in 1986, the newly-founded company Trekking Hellas successfully organized the first activity, a 15-day trekking excursion in Meteora, Mt Agrafa and Delphi, in cooperation with the French adventure agency Explorator."
Does the company train your own guides?
The guides of Trekking Hellas are people who occupy for years with sports and some of them are experts in one sport, such as climbing or rafting. Moreover, the company organizes its own seminars for learning how to practice a sport as well as for developing the so-called "soft skills" (client's management, crisis management, etc). Trekking Hellas has a fully structured educational program and seminars are taught by a specialized team.
Can foreigners take part in your programs?
Of course, they can. There are many programs for foreigners who visit Greece and want to take part in sports. In fact, there are multi-day excursions on arranged dates with guides or self-guided, and also suggestions for one-day trips.
Which activities would you recommend to a foreigner who wants to do sports in Greece for the first time?
There is not just one answer to this question, because many differences come up in the needs or wishes of people, depending on their nationality. For example, the Americans prefer Cyclades, the Germans prefer Epirus and Olympus, while the French prefer Crete and Cyclades. Most foreign clients come for trekking and every region has its own beauty. Generally, our most popular programs are Island Hopping Cyclades, Trekking Mt Olympus & Meteora, Sea Kayak in the Ionian Sea, Trekking in the White Mountains of Crete and Multisport in the Peloponnese.
How can open air activities help people today?
Engaging with sports contributes a lot in personality, especially in the personality of children. Surveys have shown that children who practice sports from a young age are more self-confident, cooperative easier and communicative. An escape to nature also contributes in the happiness and spiritual health of people.