Kefalonia's stunning tree covered mountain Mount Ainos is the largest
mountain of the Ionian region, and is part of the Greek mountain ranges
that emerged from the Tethys Sea about 65.000.000 years ago. The
mountain's highest peak, Megalos Soros, reaches 1,626 meters, and the
third highest mountain in Greece. The forested area of the range now
covers an area of 2826 hectares. Mount Roudi is an extension of this range
to the north-west, the highest peak being Yioutari, which rises to 1125m.
The mountain is covered with the unique Abies Cefalonica,(Kefalonian
firs,) which only grow in this area|
In 1962, Ainos forest was declared a national park and is now protected by
In the past many years ago the Venetians named Mount Ainos Monte Nero
which originates from the Italian language and means 'Black Mountain'.,
this was due to the density of the forest.
From the summit on a clear day you can see the neighboring island of
Zante to the south, Lefkada to the north and Ithaca to the east. The views
are simply stunning. you can see the villages and coastline which look
like tiny miniature buildings. Don't forget your camera capture the
fantastic scenery. Over the years Ainos gained an international reputation
as Kefalonia's black forest.
A tarmac road leads to the radar station with the most beautiful views of
the Omala Valley. This smooth surface ends at the radar station. It is
possible to drive to the highest point, be warned the track is extremely
rough and loose with large potholes, once you pass the military area. A
jeep is probably the best vehicle to experience this trip, but a salon if
driven slowly will get you to the summit, just be prepared for a bone
shaking trip. You know you have reached the summit when you come to the
tall masts. Here there are radio and television towers and a radar base
for the NATO defense forces.
For the very fit you can walk to the top, or even a slightly shorter walk
and stop at the picnic area, here there are tables and benches as well as
a childs play section.
For over 100 years Mount Ainos is the home of a certain species of wild
horses. It is said that they have descended from the Greek breed, the
Pindos horses, which were originally from the Aetoloakarnania region in
the Greek mainland. They live around the mountain slopes, in the area
above Arginia village where the Monastery of Zoodohou Pigis is situated.
This is probably due to the natural vegetation that is in that area and
the water supply. The horses are extremely shy and will disappear into the
trees at the slightest evidence of man by sight or smell.
The summer of 2001 was the driest for 110 years on Kefalonia, and the
winter was one of the harshest on record. Due to these environmental
conditions, the wild horses of Mount Ainos are under a greater threat of
extinction than ever before.
Many of examples can be seen at Davgata Natural History Museum.
The vegetation on Ainos not only comprises of the Kefalonia Fir, but many
others including; Kermes Oak, Wild Strawberries, Judas Trees, Carobs and
Hawthorns to name but a few. You will be able to see many species of
pretty coloured wild flowers and fungus.
The Fauna of the Nation Park is home to many species the following Common
Toad, Tortoises, Vipers, Legless Lizards and Squirrels. Birds such as the
woodpecker, blackbird and hawk are also at home here.
There are many traditions associated with Mt Ainos. The most famous
possibly being the legend of the dragon of Ainos. On it's highest peak
Megalos Soros there was once an alter this was dedicated to Zeus. In
recent years a discovery of fossilized animal bones have been made, these
were the bones of animals that were sacrificed to the God Zeus. When the
smoke could be seen rising in the sky from a sacrifice subsequently on the
tiny island of Dias a second sacrifice would commence.