The caves of Dirou
26 August 2016 | Dirou Peloponnese
One of the places we were both keen to see were the caves of Dirou.
According to the locals these were undiscovered until a shepherd was chasing after a sheep and fell through into them. There is much rumour that these are indeed the caves that mark the entrance to the mythological underworld of Hades. The caves themselves sink down to a depth of 80 metres and there are many passages that are still not fully explored with up to 14,700 metres actually charted. Fossilised bones of panthers, hyenas, deer and lions have been found as well as the largest collection of hippopotamus bones in Europe!!!
So having decided we wanted to visit them we upped anchor and quietly slipped the stern too mooring lines away from the quay at 0700, a short motor around the headland and we had dropped the hook by 0830, had a quick breakfast of coffee and croissant then ashore by 0900 to buy our tickets for our cave exploration.
The way it worked was you bought your ticket which had a number on it, then you waited in a shaded seating area to be called. Once called you went to the entrance gate and were supplied with a life jacket, you know the sort they had on the Titanic, uncomfortable and unglamorous!! A short walk down stone steps led into the caves, a fairly large open area, mostly filled with clear cold water with the beginnings of evidence of what was to come. We boarded a small wooden boat with 4 others and were moved along by a guide using a small paddle which he mostly pushed off from the cave roof as we were moved along a series of tiny flooded passageways.
The caves were spectacular, stalactites and stalagmites came down from the ceilings and up from within the clear water depths. Hughes of gold, reds and an eerie wax like texture gleamed in the dim lighting.
As we moved along the boat wobbled and bounced off the sides of the caves, the young girls in the front of the boat shreaked and drew sharp breaths in anxious but excited tones.
Pete, behind me, took pictures and slid from one side of the boat to the other causing extra wobble. Unfortunately the guide spoke only in Greek, however the mum of the girls did at times translate for us and there was a camaraderie feel to the adventure.
It is hard to describe the enormity and spectacular nature of what we saw, clear water reflected the stark white if the ice like stalactites dripping from the ceiling whilst huge columns of stalagmites grew out of the rock, touching and joining up with those coming down from the ceiling. The passageways were in places narrow and very low and we hunched down and bent sideways to allow the boat to ease through.
After about a 20 minute boat ride we were decamped into a narrow passageway. The start of which had us stooping low to get through. This then opened out into a larger cavern, again the colours were amazing, golds, purple hues and waxy cream all mingled. Stalagmites shaped like hobbit houses, others with twists and almost carving like precision delighted our eyes. The dank musty smell attacked our senses and brought an eerie feel to the experience. As with all attractions we were of course not alone, Pete and I wandered slowly, taking pictures and wondering at the sights, whilst other visitors and children whizzed through, barely stopping to notice the wonders before them. This did mean however that before long we were alone and the silence was almost deafening! We both spoke in hushed tones as if in a great cathedral, it is easy to see how many of the ornate buildings found around the area may have been based on natural wonders found in such caves.
Eventually we ran out of cave, we surfaced up into the bright sunlight and were hit by the heat of the sun. Again it was easy to imagine why ledgend suggests this was the entrance to hades, dark, dank, confusing with many passages to get lost and never return in direct contrast with the bright hot sun of the world outside.
Our adventure over we returned to the dinghy, upped anchor and set off for Porto Kagio. Once again aware that some high winds were due, keen to get into the next finger of the Peloponnese but hopefully sheltered.
We enjoyed a close hauled sail until we rounded the headland, where there was no wind at all, so motor back on we passed a couple of small inlets and turned into the bay of Kagio. To get in is a bit of a dog leg and not obvious from the sea, so relying on the GPS on Pete's small tablet we made our way in. We anchored (twice) at the head of the bay just off the beach and settled down to coffee and cake, yumm.
That evening after a brief swim to check the anchor we went ashore in the dinghy, wandered the beach front, 3 tavernas but nothing else and sat at a small table, next to the water drinking a glass of wine (cold beer for Pete) and eating a sneaky plate of fries!
Then back to Argonauta for dinner and bed.
The next morning saw some wind and swell coming in the bay. As we drank our coffee,the waves began to break in front of us, fearing a repeat of our experience in Santa Ponsa we looked to see if there was anywhere else in the bay that was more sheltered. We spotted a small inlet on the opposite side of the bay, so before anyone else went we motored across and dropped anchor.