Mount Ochi (gr: Όχη, also spelled Oche or Ohi) is the third highest mountain on Euboea Island in Greece. It is located in the southernmost part of the island, north of Karystos town. Its 1398 AMSL high top overlooks all the southern portion of Euboea, East Attica after the South Gulf of Euboea, and the northern islands of the Cyclades sticking out from the vast Aegean Sea. Its slopes are mostly rocky and covered by grassland and shrub, with only some sparse forests growing mainly on its north side.
Besides its astounding beauty, Mount Ochi is also widely known for the so-called Dragon Houses found scattered around its slopes. These are some mysterious ancient structures made of huge stone blocks without mortar, in remote locations, and for no apparent practical use. No mention has been made of them anywhere in the ancient literature. The first written account of their existence dates back to only the 18th century and the British geologist John Hawkins. The Dragon Houses of South Euboea have ever since puzzled the generations of archeologists who proceeded to study them. No one has ever come up with an evident theory explaining when, by whom, and what for these buildings were constructed. The most renown and well-preserved of the Dragon Houses is situated right on the very top of the Mountain.
Routes on Mount Ochi
There is quite a number of different approaches for reaching the summit of Mount Ochi. The two easiest of them are:
- Driving (ideally by not necessarily with a 4×4) to the mountain’s refuge (ca 1000 AMSL) starting from Metochi village and taking the signposted trail to the top from there.
- Driving up from Mekounida village until reaching the north face of the summit at the point 38.0681-24.4582 (ca 1000 AMSL again) and ascend to the peak from there.
Presumably, the most beautiful, though somewhat long, route to the top starts from Kallianos Beach and reaches the mountain through the Dimosaris Gorge.
Probably, the most usual route to the summit of Mount Ochi is the one starting from Myli village, situated a couple of kilometers north of the provincial capital city, Karystos. This exact route was the one we were bound to take that fair morning.
Climbing Mount Ochi from Myli Village
In order to reach Karystos from Athens, the best way would be driving to Rafina and taking the ferry to Marmari. As, in this case, we started from Euboea’s capital, Chalkis, we drove straight to Karystos, making it there by early morning, after starting at dawn time.
We then drove the short distance up to Myli village, where we parked the car near the end of the road by the upper verge of the village, at an altitude of ca 300 AMSL. That’s where the marked trail to the summit starts from.
The trail first runs alongside the gully for a while, until it leaves to the right, meandering up the slope towards the abrupt cliff defining the east wall of the ravine. Soon, it passes by a quarry which used to operate there in the antiquity. The spectacle of the half-cut, massive columns being left to stand there throughout the millennia after the site was abandoned, lets one wonder of how the heck were those people achieving to carry down -let aside cutting them off- these monstrous bulks of weight (a task seeming daunting even by contemporary means), and reminds of what stunning feats our species is capable of.
The trail then continues up towards the base of the cliff, and alongside it till it climbs up the passage (38.0387-24.4517) and over the ridge to the east. It then slightly descends along the slope and crosses (38.0392-24.4566) to the other side of the stream bed. From there, it keeps east in an even inclination until it finally meets the road (38.0378-24.4621) coming from Metochi.
After about 2 km of uphill way, the road ends on a narrow plateau, to which the sight of a cluster of some dead trees scattered around before the view of the mountain’s crude, rocky summit give an otherworldly charm. A bit further up the slope towards the summit, an unplastered, cement building is visible, standing lonely and overlooking the mountain’s southern extents and the bay of Karystos. That’s the refuge, and that’s where the trail up to the peak passes from.
Having completed the last, short, steep part of the hike, I’d finally made it to the top of the majestic Mount Ochi. Apart from the epic view spreading far to every direction, I got to wonder at the legendary Dragon House standing proudly, veiled with its mystery, on the very top of the mountain. That was definitely a trip worth the fatigue.
Video: Climbing to the Dragon House of Mount Ochi
Photo Album: Mount Ochi
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