To Dikeos

In Romania, the general perception about mountains is that anything under 2000 m is for amateurs, and anything under 1000 m is not even a mountain. Anyone who would take credit for having hiked at less than 1000 m altitude will get a condescending look at most. The funny part is that those who think that way are rarely able to climb more than 500 m (and that’s the distance, not the altitude difference !), usually around their own car or in the neighbourhood of the cable-car station.
Therefore, the height of Mt Dikeos – the highest peak on the Greek island of Kos at 843 m – might not seem to be worth the time wasted to climb it. But both the effort involved and the rewarding view one gets up there are definitely associated with any other real mountain climbing.
It is equally true nevertheless that most tourists who attack Dikeos leave their cars in the picturesque (yet much too touristic to my taste) village of Zia, which already lies at 300 m, and start the hike there, so their climb is only 500 m. But not mine !
I chose to approach Dikeos from the direction of Pili, having in mind to visit the ruins of Old Pili, a castle situated at 250 m. But to get there you need to park you vehicle some 50 m below. And my vehicle was a bike, by which I came all the way from Psalidi – Kos area, thus from the sea level. Cycling all the way up to 200 m altitude can be very exhausting, so it’s quite understandable that I was tired even before starting to walk to the top.

Traditional Greek 4×4 all-terrain transportation

Fortunately, on my way I had the chance to see a new bird species for me – Mediterranean Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala), which had a positive and refreshing effect on my condition 🙂

The castle itself is in a very bad shape (as a genuine ruin should be), so for the average visitor not interested in archeology there are only two attractions about it: contemplating the castle (which doesn’t necessarily requires being inside it) and contemplating the panorama from the castle. As for the latter, I reckoned that the panorama on the Dikeos would be even more spectacular, so I found myself with no reason to follow the path that goes all the way up to the ruin itself. Instead I took some pictures and continued to Dikeos.

Looking north, with Pserimos island in the background

A friendly guy from the Old Pili taverna showed me the way to the peak, marked with a blue point (or `blau punkt` as he said, even when speaking a rough English). Having made sure I was carrying enough water (you will see no water beyond Old Pili upwards, unless it rains), I started on at noon.
I spent the first hour of my hike taking pics of the landscape,

Lake Tigaki can be seen too

…admiring beautiful herp fauna…

Male adult Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata)
European Legless Lizard (Ophisaurus apodus) – another herp first for me. I have to thank again for the id to Vlad
Snake-eyed Lizard (Ophisops elegans) – I was pretty sure it was a Podarcis, but Vlad saved me again from ignorance
Stellion again (Laudakia stellio)
Wild sex live with Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca)

…and – alas ! – struggling not to loose the Blaupunkt from the sight. Which was a very demanding task, since the way they marked the path was quite odd. At some point, Mr. Blaupunkt even split in two different directions ! Of course, I chose the wrong one, which ended just 100 m further.
After retrieving the Blaupunkt again, my joy didn’t last too long, since a few minutes later I lost it again, and this time for good. My only ally left in battle was my common sense of orientation. Which is not so great, by the way. I had the summit in my sight, I evaluated some options to continue upwards, I chose one and went on. The `way` took me through the woods and I couldn’t see much, but as long as I was gaining altitude, everything was all right. After a while I came at the open, I saw a peak and climbed it. Kein Blaupunkt, aber sehr schön ! I was right: the panorama was much more spectacular than anything it might have been like at the castle top.

View to NE – Turkish coast in the background
View to the South, with the Nisyros island in the background
A look to the West, as the mountains gently fade away. The town of Kardamena can be seen and, further West, the Kefalos peninsula
This is as close to Nysiros as I could get
Some specific flora to their mountains (don’t ask me what it is !)
My legs are particularly acquainted with this beautiful example of Greek flora

Where I was wrong – although flabbergasting, this peak was not Dikeos. It was not even Christos (800 m, the neighbouring peak West from Dikeos). It was just another peak somewhere around 700 m. I found that after almost another hour of walking upwards, fighting thistles and climbing rocks, as the real Dikeos began to reveal itself to its true majestic height.

Thank God I made it !

I guess others thanked God as well when finally making it to the top

Well, this wasn’t Dikeos either, but at least it was Christos all right. In fact, the name Dikeos on the signs refer to the whole massif, but the path will take you to Christos peak. There is no even `official` path to Dikeos peak itself. You may try it if you want, but as far as I could see from Christos, it is highly not recommended. And Christos offers another spectacular view anyway, and Dikeos, as seen from Christos, is extremely photogenic 🙂

You already know both Tigaki lake and Pserimos island, don’t you ?
Zia village seen from above
Now that is Dikeos all right

Now it’s time to go back. The path is so obvious this time, but marked with a red line. After a consistent descent, who do you think I meet again ? Guten Tag, Herr Blaupunkt !!! Mr. Blaupunkt offers himself to take me to Old Pili. I accept his offer, as curiosity urges me to find out where I lost my blue companion in the first place. I find the answer after a few minutes of light ascent on a dirt road: it was where my path met this road that came from the valley, ending right on spot. As I see now that the sign was well hidden on a rock, facing the opposite direction to my arrival there, I have the explanation why I was left alone with my common sense of orientation. Which I already admitted not being so great, but now seriously: when you need to get to the top and meet a road going down, what do you do ? Follow the road downwards ? Not bloody likely !

Now you see why I prefered to climb to Dikeos rather than to climb to the castle ?

Finally back to the parking place. A few minutes of rest before cycling again. The silence is suddenly broken by a noisy group of Czechs arrived on tiny but noisy mopeds. One of the Czechs takes a piss right next to the bench I’m sitting on, while the others support him by yelling and shouting. The sweet murmur of the Czech’s piss is far from Vltava’s, while the battle yelling is nothing like the war signals in Tabor. It’s a clear sign I have to leave for the real civilization. My bike takes me there in no time. So quick, that the sudden loss of 200 m in altitude causes ear clogging – something I never felt before on a bike !
On my way back to the hotel, I take a final look to the majestic Dikeos. Was I really up there just two hours ago ?

Yia sou Dikeos, yia sou Kos !


  1. great walk! so my understanding is you can climb from Zia and come back to Old Pili? Following blue point 🙂 Strange thing is – there is no such a route on the walking map I’ve got….but if there are the signs…I’ll try. Stunning views, I was afraid Kos would be pretty flat so a little bit boring, but it looks like I was mistaken.

    • Since the final track to the top is marked with a red line, I assume the blue point takes you from Zia to Pili Castle and back, but don’t bet your life on this guess of mine ! 🙂 What’s for sure – there IS a track from Zia to the peak. And from up there life looks much easier 😉 Have a nice and safe trip !

  2. Very nice, bike and hike, that’s my style. I have just returned from the Kos holiday. One day I biked to Pili, Old Pili and fortres ruin, Kardamena and Mastichari. Another day I biked to Zia and hiked to Dikeos. My hotel was in Marmari, so I visited Tigaki lake too. I like your photos and I see it’s time to start with photography more seriously for me. Jan

  3. A wonderful walk – I have been to the Christos via Kefalovrisi – If you walk from Lagoudi – Zia – Kefalovrisi – Christos – for a novice it takes about 3.30hrs…. Amazing views….

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