By Yiannis Elafros
What could be better than a 25-kilometer walk on Folegandros? A 50-kilometer walk on Folegandros! An ambitious effort is under way by the southeastern Aegean island’s residents, its municipality, as well as the Network for Sustainable Greek Islands (DAFNI), which aims to use public funds for two very important projects. First is the further development of the island’s network of hiking trails and second is the completion of a safe pedestrian walk linking the port with the island’s main town, Chora.
Folegandros is perfect for hiking, criss-crossed with trails that lead walkers through rocky yet enchanting landscapes, and past threshing floors, abandoned huts and traditional Cycladic houses. “Today the network of hiking trails totals 25 kilometers. If we succeed in expanding it to 50 kilometers, we can put Folegandros on the map of European hiking trails, as that is the minimum length required for that,” says Kosmas Anagnostopoulos, who is responsible for the DAFNI network’s sustainable mobility program and is coordinator of the campaign Folegandros Routes: A Step for Culture & Nature.
Its goals include producing a reliable map of the island, putting up signposts and carrying out maintenance work, and developing apps for mobile devices and e-books, among others. Another aim of the campaign is the completion of an attractive and functional pedestrian street that will connect the port of Karavostasi to Chora.
“This is one of the most common routes taken by visitors but it’s also quite treacherous. We aim to create a safe route for pedestrians running beside the existing path, about 3-5 kilometers in length, and with modifications for people with mobility problems,” says Anagnostopoulos. The organizers say the alterations are environmentally friendly and compatible with the natural environment, as well as the island’s cultural heritage.
Completion of the project is dependent on the financial support of local residents, businesses, people who’ve emigrated from the island, tourists and other friends of Folegandros. Through crowdfunding, the Folegandros Routes campaign is attempting to raise the required amount. If it succeeds in raising 12,000 euros, the hiking network will be completed. If donations reach 24,000 euros, the team will also be able to produce a proper map and an online network. But, fully completing both projects will take 100,000 euros, Anagnostopoulos explains.
This article was first published by ekathimerini.com on 16/07/17