After your pickup in Armenistis, the day starts near the main square in the village of Christos-Raches, known for its authentic Ikarian architecture and renowned throughout Greece for its relaxed pace during the day and lively late night store hours and cafe/bar entertainment scene. Before starting our hike we can wander around the square with its stone walkways, interesting buildings and numerous cafes and enjoy a coffee/drink and conversation with the village locals under the shade of old trees.
We leave the village in an easterly direction and scattered around us are traditional Ikarian houses with their colorful gardens. After a short walk we enter the path ("monopati") that leads to the Charakas river and village of Kastanies. The vegetation becomes denser and the landscape wild, with tall pine trees, natural chestnut shrubs and other smaller flowers and plants hinting at the presence of water nearby. As we make our way down to the Charakas River we come across an excellent example of an old Ikarian stone water mill that has been restored. Walking along the river banks for a distance we then cross a pine forest on a well preserved stone path.
Emerging from the forest we follow a country road a short distance and arrive for a rest stop at Holy Trinity Church situated next to the ruins of an old monastery . From here we ascend and pass a small animal corral and planted fields continuing alongside the outlying houses of Kastanies village before arriving to the lush and forested area of Vathes with its two small lakes and dam. The nature and landscape here are idyllic with the backdrop of the high peaks of Atheras to the south and views of the Aegean Sea to the north.
The setting for our rest stop, and the chance to have a light snack, is a small cantina situated amongst the trees with tables at the water's edge overlooking Vathes Lakes and wetlands area. After our break we can explore the small paths around the lake that reveal small farms, bee keepers and animal herders, and then make our way to visit the nearby 15th C Moni Mounte Monastery with its resident monk who will give us a short history and treat us to a Greek coffee in the courtyard. After this you will be transported back to Armenistis in time for an afternoon swim.