A new rock climbing paradise is being developed in Laconia on Cape Maleas, since ancient times an important shipping lane and one that has often struck terror into the hearts of seamen. The cape is in the area known as Vatika, which is derived from the name of the ancient town of Vies.
Sheer rock faces rise up all around the cape, where a network of trails winds throughout the rugged scenery. Speliologists will find a number of caves scattered among the rocks, surrounded by the wide open sea bordered by peaceful coves.
The first climbing area is at Zobolo. The limestone face consists of terrain accessible for all levels of competence, with stalagmites, vertical rocks, crevasses, caves and many other features. It has great potential for competitive climbing, or traditional climbs of up to five pitches.
Throughout the park there are now routes in three different areas. The first lies in the foothills of Mt. Zombolo (about 7 km from the village of Aghios Nikolaos) and comprises 70 routes, already known to many climbers. South-facing, it is suitable for winter climbs throughout the day, and in summer months early in the morning or early evening.
The northeast area, 300 metres away, has 34 routes, suitable for climbing after 1 p.m. in summer months.
About 2 km northeast of Mt. Hioni is a new area with 30 routes, suitable up until 2 p.m.
In all three areas there are routes of varying levels of difficulty. For those who like a challenge, there are more difficult routes on the Hioni area that have not yet been opened up.
Most of the routes have been set up by Dimitris Titopoulos, who supervised the establishiment of all routes, as well as by D. Tsitsikas, G. Toreli and other well-known climbers.
The quality of the rock is excellent and the routes have been well secured, making the climbs enjoyable and safe.
The local cultural association provides free accommodation and equpment (by arrangement with Panayiotis Livanos) for climbers who would like to open up routes on existing walls.
For climbers who simply wish to visit, the closest accommodation is in Neapoli. Good restaurants are to be found in Aghios Nikolaos, Profitis Ilias and at Rismari beach.
For further information, please call Dimitris Titopoulos (6972247452) who opened up the first routes with Giorgos Koukis and Dimitra Klaoudatou, or call Panayiotis Livanos (6972697754) for accommodation and equipment.
From the main coast road in Neapoli, turn left at the sign for Aghios Nikolaos and Velanidia. Aghios Nikolaos is 7 km further on. At the entrance to the village, turn right onto a sealed road for 6.5 km until you meet an unsurfaced road with a sign directing you to Aghia Marina-Vromontas and the climbing area.
About 2 km along this road you will come across a sign directing you to the climbing area, and another about 200 m before your destination. There is a parking area which marks the start of a path marked in red, which will take you to the start of the climbing area in 5-10 minutes.