In 2021 the Social Cooperative Enterprise “Paths of Greece” celebrates its 10th anniversary!
We recall the experiences and emotions we experienced in this process: The emotions we felt looking for paths lost in time and the stories of the past, the stories we learned in our encounters with local people, the creative enthusiasm of building paths, but also the genuine joy that we feel when we hear compliments about our work from hikers. All this gives us strength to continue with even greater passion and determination!
In the past 10 years, we have studied, restored, sign-posted and promoted paths that we truly love. Below we mention some paths which we consider to be milestones in our journey, not because they are more important than the rest, but because they gave us the impetus to improve what we do.
Our journey with Paths of Greece started on Kythera island, at the end of 2010, where through synergies, research and a lot of volunteer work, a network of hiking trails was created with multiple benefits for the local community that every year expands and operates more efficiently. This was followed by works in Patmos, Mount Paggaio, Ymittos, Fiskardo in Kefalonia and elsewhere.
International Trail Consulting
Paths of Greece participated in the 3rd World Trails Conference organized in South Korea in 2014 by the World Trails Network (WTN). There, the co-founder of Paths of Greece, Fivos Tsaravopoulos, was elected Treasurer of the International Board of Directors of the organization and the conditions were officially created for the transfer of our know-how outside Greece. In the following years we provided international trail consulting in China, Japan and Albania. Through the World Trails Network we have a strong interaction with the developments in the world of trails, having created international relationships and collaborations of special value.
The next big stop for us was the creation of the Sifnos Trails hiking network. Sifnos for years tried – unfortunately in fragments – to become a hiking destination. In collaboration with the island’s municipality, we way-marked the trails, created an identity as well as the appropriate tools for the promotion of the network – website, application for smartphones, QR-codes, recording of routes with Google Trekker, twinning with other hiking networks in the world, dynamic presence in exhibitions and magazines abroad (France, Germany, Sweden, Poland etc.). The result was that Sifnos emerged as one of the top hiking destinations in Greece and the tourist season on the island has been extended with quality tourism.
In Sifnos we realized that the good cooperation between the local authorities, the local population and the specialized advisors in the development of paths brings spectacular results. The success in Sifnos was followed by our studies in various parts of Greece, from Alexandroupolis to Prespes and from Karpathos and Kasos to western Crete, where we gradually undertook to study all the paths of the Regional Unit of Chania.
We discovered forgotten mountain passes, trails in fairytale forests, Roman roads, and especially areas of infinite natural beauty and exceptional cultural wealth, to which the average interested walker unfortunately did not have access. The network we are planning in western Crete, with the valuable cooperation of the regional and local authorities as well as the local community, will exceed 600 kilometers in length. Its operation and maintenance will also be based on the tight cooperation of local authorities and the local community.
In 2018 Paths of Greece launched the Hikers’ Friendly Accommodation Certification, a guide, in essence, advising hotels across the country in an effort to upgrade their facilities and services so that they can meet the requirements of the hiking community. Through our contact with local communities all over Greece, we promote the investment in the Hikers’ Friendly model. It is an important step that the hosting sector should take, especially in the post-Covid-19 era, if it aims at becoming a driving force for the lengthening of the tourist season, increase of revenues, and greater awareness of the rich natural and cultural heritage of the country. Hikers Friendly certification is entering a new era in 2021, adapting to the needs of the market.
The organization in October 2019, in Kythira island, of the first seminar in Europe for the training of auditors of the “Green Flag Trails”, a World Trails Network certification, was another very important station for us. The certification Kythera Trails received during the seminar was a recognition of international prestige for the quality of the work of Paths of Greece on the island.
All these years we have built excellent collaborations on a solid foundation, on the main axis of mutual trust and respect for the experience and skills of each partner. Our goal has always been to provide the most complete, specialized and innovative services. Among the collaborations we honor, we mention Staridas Geography, Instinct Design, Kappagram, Stonewave, ForestPlan, Med-INA, Diadrasis and Green Life and Lysiteleia as our closest partners.
Since our establishment in 2010, our vision has been for Greece to become one of the top hiking destinations in the world. We believe that 10 years later, our country is moving in the right direction to achieve this goal. On our tenth birthday, we decided to set as our new vision that hiking becomes part of the daily life of our fellow citizens.
In addition to getting to know our nature, culture and history that they generously offer, trails promote our good physical condition and health, with a positive impact on public health. In the years we leave behind we have experienced intensely the direct dependence of human life on nature through the effects of climate change and the pandemic. Nature sends its own messages urging us to turn toward a sustainable way of life as a necessary condition for the normalization of humanity’s relationship with the natural environment.
Thus, from 2021 we start an ambitious educational program, which aims to bring younger and older people close to the trails, to promote hiking as a way of life, to bring hikers close to the inexhaustible natural and cultural wealth of Greece and to promote sustainable, collective values for a better future.
To achieve this, at Paths of Greece, we will continue our action towards creating the conditions so that every resident of our country, even in urban centers, can easily and quickly have access to walking trails.
Therefore, our new vision will be from now on
A trail near every home!