AMORGOS, the easternmost island of the Greek Cyclades is a stunner,
with whitewashed houses, trestled alleyways and fiery rust sunsets ...
Kevin Raub in New York Post, 2010

Hiking on Amorgos – low risk more fun!

People who misgauge mountain risks are very well known to the members of different alpine rescue services. One can find people dressed in beach-wear and sandals on alpine glaciers and desperate ski-beginners on diamond slopes. Mass tourism in the alps has required the set-up of a dynamically rescue system. Accidentally this trend somehow is unconducive for the developement of mainstream’s self-responsibility. But high personal responsibility is essential for exploring Amorgos, wich fortunately has not yet advanced (and hopefully never will) to a hiking amusement park.

What makes shit happen

Be ware
On Amorgos there is no professional mountain rescue organisation like in the Alps. If, at all possible, rescue helicopters have to arrive far from Athens. Exposed areas can be unfrequented for long periods of time!

Difficult trail.
Difficult day.
Difficult weather.
Hubris & compulsion.
Insufficient equipment.
Thirst & hunger.
Bad timing.

Difficult situation. Wrong decisions.

Self-responsibility and a low risk manner is essential!
Let somenone know where you are!

alpine safety amorgos

Tour planning

  1. Plan your trip by talking to someone about this. Be sure to take your fully charged mobile phone along. Store phone-numbers of people who are on Amorgos – a list of important phone numbers you find linked at the end of this article. If you plan a tour to less frequented places never go unaccompanied.
  2. Plan your trip according to your abilities. Your physical and mental condition is most essential for the decision where to go and how long the whole tour takes. Never forget, the way back is as long as the way there! Amorgos is not only a terrain with smooth and romantic footpaths along herbal gardens, it’s reverse side can be really harsh and rough. Especially sufferers from vertigo should know that there are hiking trails with up to 700m precipitous slopes to the sea. Some routes offside the marked paths can only be done by sure-footed people without any acrophobia. At some parts climbing skills at difficulty level 2 – 3 are necessary.
  3. Plan your trip to take advantage of the weather. Start early on hot days to avoid noonday heat for exhausting ascents. Consider that strong winds are quite common on Amorgos and dangerous for people on exposed ridges. Also heavy fog, according to air-humidity and lower temperatures (-0,7 – -1° C/100 m.i.a) accumulates around higher aereas even in summer. For exposed and unmarked trails a compass, an altimeter plus a detailed map; and or a GPS device are highly recommended.
  4. Plan your trip to be prepared for emergency cases. Don’t forget a first aid bag including also blistering plasters as well as a space blanket – a well established lightweight life saver at low cost. If you are lost, out of water, or hurt, stay where you are, calm down and think about your possibilities. For emergency cases out of mobile reception, one should know international distress codes like SOS or the alpine distress signal. Small but useful are the two attributes that apply to a pocket mirror that allows distressed hikers to reflect a signal to other hikers, passing boats etc.


  • Be equipped! Don’t act as a tennis-shoe-climber; wear strong boots, and take along weather proof protection clothes. Make sure to bring along enough water – on a round trip you may deposit a portion for the way back in a suitable, shady and easy detectable spot at about half way; sun protection for skin, eyes and head – also a mini folding umbrella is ideal for hot climate trekking, rain or not; snacks rich in carbohydrates to keep the blood sugar on an efficient level.

Have fun and enjoy! 😉

Useful links
Important Amorgian phone numbers
Amorgos weather information
Distress Box App for iPhone
SOS Signal
Alpine Distress Signal


Comment with Facebook

  1. A highly commendable article by an expert in these matters. I am happy to be proved wrong but we believe that there is no such thing as a rescue helicopter service available here for Amorgos. The military are utilised for aero-medical flights but they are not equipped to winch civilians off a mountain side. Rescue is by donkey to the nearest road and then ambulance to Chora for the chopper. We never take clients anywhere where a donkey can’t go for this reason. This is a point worth considering when being adventurous. Is your group large enough to carry an injured person to the nearest mule track?

    An additional point is always obtain a weather forecast and pay particular attention to the wind and possible cloud base. Asking a KNOWLEDGEABLE local person is quite often the best.

    We now have many attractive wooden sign posts to point walkers in the right direction for our main routes. However, a point I have raised with the local council many times is the suggested walk times on them. Invariably they are very optimistic and thus we consider misleading. Many times we have found people just half way along a route and they think that they are just a few minutes away from destination. And, yes Nicola, they are usually in flip flops and swimming costumes with no map and very little water. They do have a towel with them however!

    • Author
      nicola October 8, 2010

      Thank you for the comment, Paul! I’m afraid that my statement on rescue helicopters is a bit ambiguous. – I wanted to point out, that helicopters, if at all, have to arrive from Athens. Everybody who is involved into first care, knows that each minute waiting for rescue with a casualty is cruel, also for the aides. And I not even like to imagine the transport of a serious back casuality by donkey.

      I agree Paul, signs with walk times are very helpful – as long as the time designation is orientated towards ambling hikers and not chamois. The link beneath shows how Austrian signs inform. Beside a detailed picture of the route (each has a number), it shows a detailed altitude profile, the walking time also to different stages, and last not least the phone number of the tourist information. This probably could be an example for further Amorgian sign projects.


      Btw. this sign is for a route named after my father, who is a mountain guide and a pioneer of alpine tourism in my home valley. Perhaps in bright future we will find a detailed sign for the delahunt-trail somewhere on Amorgos 😉

  2. Let us try to get at least a distance on the signs as a start. As we have both stressed however carrying a map is desirable whether it be a full topo or in a detailed guide book containing said maps – there is actually now a new one available!

    Nice sign and information. This is probably the standard for your routes in Austria. However one of the principles of eco-tourism is to have low impact signs made of natural materials which blend into the environment. See: Mathieson, A. and Wall, G. 1982. Tourism: Economic, physical and social impacts. London and New York: Longman

    There is actually a trail on Amorgos already unofficially named after me. It starts at Nikos’ then Loukakis, Kala Kardia, O Horeftis, Lakki, Celini, Marabu, Costaros, Katina’s, Loza, Loudaros and back to Nikos’. It is called the ‘PDR Pub Crawl Trail!’ I would be very happy to guide your esteemed father on this route.

    • Author
      nicola October 8, 2010

      I think the challenge is to combine significant information with sophisticated natural design. We are working in a project for information design – also for landmark art, in a small ski destination, with the university of applied arts in vienna, this winter. My example should only show the amount of information wich could be provided, especially at the start of a route.

      I will pass your guiding offer to my father, although he can’t take it. Regretfully at the moment he is on foresight of a long march…

    • Sarah Gray October 8, 2010

      Totally agree about the misleading times on some of the walk signposts (Chalara is a good example). It might be interesting to try to time the PDR pub crawl … I volunteer to test it out. Sarah

Leave a reply