Friday, 30 October 2015

Great camper stops...take care!

Before we set out I had done quite a bit of research concerning places on the Peloponnese to wild camp. Part of justifying the extra cost of catching the ferry across the Adriatic to Greece was that the expense could be partly offset by reducing our average daily spend by using free Camperstops rather than ACSI sites.

In the absence of a Michelin Road Atlas covering Greece, we bought the Freytag and Berndt large scale fold-out map of the Peloponesse. It's very good, apart from the paper it's printed on. If you go on Amazon to buy it, it would not surprise me if 'the frequently bought with' includes - a super-size roll of Sellotape. Over the summer I meticulously transcribed onto the map information from the Camperstops book, Peejay's useful web-site, Greek Stopovers, and other sundry places gleaned from blogs and web boards. In the case of the most likely looking wild camping stops, I also had a quick 'reccy' on street view to look at access roads. However, preparation is no substitute for experience, so here's some pictures and a brief review of the free places we have stayed in so far, concluding with a cautionary tale at the end!

1. Katakolo N. 37.649479 E. 21.318993

An easy drive from here to Olympia. The parkijng is at the pier. The marina has toilets, showers and a water tap. The notice says, 'For Marina Users Only' but no-one seems to mind.

There's a no camping sign at the gate, no-one seems to take a blind bit of notice of that either. The port itself is interesting. It was the primary port for the export of currants, until Patras took over. It would probably have fallen out of use entirely, but Cruise ships dock here so their inmates, sorry, customers, can go on excursions to Olympia. A good place for a free stopover.

2. Pilos N. 36.915625 E. 21. 695022

Parking on the pier, or alternatively in the coach park by the marina. There are public toilets next to the marina, open, but a bit grim. Pilos is a pleasant small town with a lovely tree shaded square next to the harbour. Lots of cafe's and tavernas and a pleasant walk up to a ruined castle.

3. Agios Nikolaos N. 36.823014 E. 22.283727

Parking on level, but un-metaled car/bus park just beyond the fishing harbour. No facilities. The village is a very attractive small port with high quality tavernas. Although the village is only 1 km. from the main road running down the west coast of the Mani, the village streets are narrow. I had to reverse into a gateway to let a coach through. The place is on the coach tour circuit, so this kind of situation must happen all the time. 

4. Neo Itlio, N. 36.69246 E. 22.38969

About 30km south of the previous camperstop. On a promenade above a nice beach in a spectacular bay. We used this as a lunch stop, but it would be a nice peaceful place to spend the night. The road down to Neo Itlio is steep, but not too narrow.

5. Kamares, N. 36. 68203  E. 22.52090

An idyllic, secluded beach side stop on the east coast of the Mani about 18 kilometres south of Githio. It is about 5km off the Kalamata to Githio main road down narrow winding lanes. Not too tricky if you drive with care..

6. Skoutari, N.36.65921  E. 22.49962

This is situtated about four kilometres south of the previous stop. If anything, the setting is even more spectacular than the last one. Access however, is a nightmare for anything larger than a campervan. The roads to it are steep, gravelly, narrow, and approaching from the north made even more hazardous by un-pruned olive tree branches spreading into the already narrow road. The parking area itself is a small patch of sloping concrete near the beach.While  extricating myself from the dead end I clipped a boulder and cracked a rear light housing. I would not recommend this place at all.

There are some great places to wild camp here, it's just some of them are down tracks more suitable for a moped,and it's really tricky to know how you  tell in advance if the road is going to be OK. Most of the camperstops in ports or marinas seem straightforward. It's always tempting to search out that remote beach where you can sleep under the stars, but you take a risk, one overhanging olive branch can do a lot of damage. After my brush with the boulder, maybe I'll be a bit more risk averse in future.


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