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Things to See on Kefalonia

Home > Greek Islands > Day Trips | Family | Outdoor
by Margaret Waters (subscribe)
A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Published October 6th 2014
Wildlife and Natural Wonders on an Ionian Island
Dear Visitor

Kefalonia is a beautiful Greek island in the Ionian sea with stunning scenery and lots of interesting things to spark your curiosity and keep you absorbed while you're soaking up the sunshine.

If you're looking for things to fill your days, a trip to the Koutavos Lagoon, a protected conservation area for sea turtles in Argostoli is great for adults and kids alike.

koutavara
Koutavos Lagoon -Turtle Sanctuary on Argostoli Bay


The shallow area at the end of the bay was especially developed as a conservation zone for the endangered Caretta caretta species of sea turtle in order to preserve the habitat of these sea creatures which can grow to a metre in length, when they come to nest on the shores of Kefalonia and surrounding islands.

Situated on the port road at the end of Argostoli Bay, you can go turtle spotting from the promenade which is surrounded by a pretty park packed full of exotic plants and flowers, many of which are indigenous to the island. The lagoon also plays host to several species of waterfowl.

Greek church on port road
Greek Orthodox Church on Argostoli's Port Road
Margaret in the park by Koutavos Lagoon
Margaret in the park near Koutavos Lagoon
 

If travelling from Lixouri, you can reach it on foot from the ferry landing by walking for 20 30 minutes along the path that runs the length of the bay towards its eventual end, where it meets the land, which swiftly becomes a mountain. Almost across the road from the turtle sanctuary you will see an impressive Greek Orthodox church facing the bay, carry on walking for another 150m or so and you're there. From Argostoli town centre simply head for the bay, it's all in walking distance.

The water is warm and shallow (approximately 1m -1.5m deep) with plenty of reeds and vegetation, providing food and much needed rest and recuperation to theCaretta turtles better known as Loggerhead turtles that often rest there after long sea journeys before returning to their breeding grounds on Kefalonia and the neighbouring island of Zakynthos to lay their eggs.

turtle up for air
Loggerhead Turtle up for Air
 


The paved area is nice and flat and you can walk along the water's edge but there are no rails separating the water from the promenade in some areas so children need to be constantly monitored by adults.

koutavos sign
Koutavos Lagoon information sign
looking for turtles
Don't Stand to Close to the Water Darling - Hubby Colin has been Looking for Turtles
 

You can also hire a pedalo or join one of the organised trips in soundless electric boats designed not to scare the wildlife. Timetables for these change at different times of the year (as do the prices) but generally take place in the early and late afternoon. A fascinating way to see wildlife in their natural habitat and see how it is being conserved, enthralling for kids and adults alike.

Talking of the natural environment, the Drogorati and Melissani caves are a 'must see' and are situated on the eastern side of the island, just outside of Sami on the road to Aghia Efimia.
Kefalonia map

Formed over millions of years by seismic activity which has pushed up the seabed, this Ionian island archepelago has features that are drool-worthy to any budding or actual geologist. Nowadays Kefalonia's huge underground caverns are a major tourist attraction.

The discovery of the Melissani Caves is relatively recent. They were found following major seismic activity in 1953 by a shepherdess trying to retrieve a lost sheep, so the story goes. The roof of the cave had collapsed exposing a 100 foot chamber with a subterranean lake.

Today the entrance to the cave has been concreted and visitors can now walk down into the depths of the cave to take a boat trip around the underground pool which is brackish in nature, suggesting that seawater has also entered the cave, where fresh water would have been expected as rain water permeates the rock strata. I went there the first time I travelled to Kefalonia in 2002 and it is very impressive.

melisanni cave
Melisanni Cave Kefalonia - Wikipedia image

From the boat you can see the sky and shards of light that pierce their way through the opening in the roof of the cave to produce a vivid blue effect on the water below and the naturally honey coloured walls of the cavern as the water continues to flow through even deeper channels to emerge elsewhere on the island.

A rare geological phenomenon known as The Katavothres (which means sinkhole in Greek) had been known since the 19th century, when seawater appeared to vanish beneath some rocks near the island capital of Argostoli. The inlet was utilised by English engineers who built watermills to channel the energy and help prevent whirlpools from forming near the entrance to the harbour making it safer for shipping.

katavothres wheel
Katavothres Wheel - image from Greek Island Adventure.com
At first it was assumed that the water flowed into an underground cave but this didn't make sense as this cavity would eventually fill up if there was no outlet. A further hypothesis deemed that there were sinkholes within the cave below the level of the seabed, leading to underground rivers but this wasn't proven at the time.

The original mill was eventually destroyed in an earthquake but there is now a replica in its place at Katavothres (which has taken its name from the phenomenon) on the Fanari road 3km outside Argostoli.
 

In 1963, a study by Austrian geologists has shown this to be the case as they placed coloured dye into the water at a the source of the phenonomen, 3km from Argostoli and monitored other outlets for its re-emergence, providing evidence for the theory of the existence of seawater channels running underground across the island. The dye did appear in the water at Melisanni and also emerged in the inland lake at Karavomilos (a small fishing village near Sami) on the other side of the island) two weeks later, eventually discharging into the sea there.



Youtube video about Karavomelos posted by Zlo1naopako

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Why? Gorgeous Greek Island, Sun, Sea and Stunning Scenery, Amazing Geological Structures, Natural Phenonoma
When: Summer season is May - October
Where: Around Kefalonia
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by Margaret Waters on 07/10/2014
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