Documented walks around the Greek island of Rhodes

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Walk to the Malona Waterfall

Malona Waterfall

A 7 mile walk from Malona through the river valley to a waterfall

Although this waterfall is dry for many months of the year, the expedition is worth the effort to witness the calcification of the surrounding rocks and trees. This walk also passes the monastery of Moni Eleomonitria and provides some amazing scenery through the river valley

Malona to Archangelos Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Malona View in Google Map
End Point
Archangelos View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
11.3 km (7 miles)
Walk difficulty
Some clambering involved, otherwise easy
Terrain
Tracks, paths and some road walking
Obstacles
The area around the waterfall involves some climbing down the banks. There is also a collapsed bridge to negotiate with further climbing. Although not particularly difficult, it is a challenge.

Maps:

The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. The links include published hard copy as well as online plots and downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.

Online OpenStreetMap Route
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Online Google Route
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ViewRanger App Route
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GPX data for route (download)

Transport:

Details of public transport that is required for the walk

Rhodes Public Transport - Bus Service
Service Number
Pefkos to Rhodes Town - Rhodes Public bus service from Lindos to Rhodes town. Stops at turns for Archangelos with a less frequent service that passes through Masari and Malona
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2016-10-12
Walk Time
10:45 to 15:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Overcast, very warm

Walk Notes

This is another walk inspired by the Walking on Rhodes publication. The walk detailed in the book is a circular affair but this instance makes a linear route ending at the town of Archangelos where the local bus service is more frequent than at the start of the walk.

The book also uses gps coordinates as reference points which do not stand up as a navigation aid to a bloke with a crude Rhodes map. The issue, as highlighted in other Rhodes walks, is that the maps of the island are targeted at road users and these off-beat tracks are seldom depicted. Even the better maps, which include the more major tracks, do not list the various off shoots and junctions along the route. The book is therefore a useful and trusted resource to follow its detailed directions. Even so, there is a lot of ambiguity and wrong turns and misunderstandings of the instructions can easily result. As an example, one instance details taking the right fork at a y-junction with an olive tree in the middle. Considering that Rhodes is full of olive trees, finding a suitable candidate appears to be a little hit and miss. A couple of likely sources came up prior to the actual y-junction referenced. When the actual junction came along, it was obvious. The olive tree almost looked like a roundabout from a distance! The idea is to follow the details explicitly and always read ahead.

Having said all this, treat the day as an adventure. Remember the path you have walked down in case you need to return and look for the various features and landmarks in the instructions. The directions specified below will hopefully assist the budding walker a little more and I have added some approximate distances to establish the location of the various features.

In this walk instance a wrong turn ended up walking along the road to Archangelos. Now this was another misinterpretation of both the book instructions and their accompanying diagrammatic map. The road is the old main coastal highway which has now been bypassed by the modern route 95 highway. Consequently, this is a little used back-road connecting Malona to Archangelos. Where the track meets this road, to follow the Walking on Rhodes directions, one needs to then turn sharp left along the concrete track - this is not immediately obvious without reading ahead. Even so, despite the wrong interpretation, the result of walking the road provides some dramatic scenery and enables navigation back to the original route further along where the road twists around a steep valley. It is at this point that I have been told that, prior to the building of the main road, the school bus would use this route from Malona to Archangelos which was a frightening experience for the children, as the bus's brakes were never very good.

This walk is specifically an exploration to a waterfall. However, as any visitor to the island of Rhodes will testify during the holiday months, there are many dried up river beds and very little in the way of water let alone flowing rivers. It is obvious that one will most likely not see much of a waterfall. Despite this, there is always that tiny lingering expectation that somewhere out in the middle of nowhere there may be a small drop of flowing water to provide something that could be vaguely called a waterfall. Indeed, this valley appears to be very fertile with tall bamboo like reeds and rushes that follow the stream up from Malona. There is obviously some kind of water source to support this growth. This view was soon supported on encountering a battered old pick up truck that appeared to have only stopped from careering down into the valley by a tree trunk. It wasn't specifically the truck that provided this conclusion of water below, but the long line of dampened flip flops that sat drying alongside the truck. This was a curious sight. At least 11 pairs of flip flops that had clearly recently seen water. The sight did make one wonder how such a number of owners could ever fit into the truck. Unless it was a mythical Greek 22 footed beast that prowled this valley. Either way, wet flip flops certainly held high hopes that a waterfall would be encountered.

Then, as the metres were trod onwards, one could catch the distinctive cry or even laughter in the air. A shrill shout almost. Could that really be sound of the mythical Greek 22 footed beast that lurked in these parts. With each pace, the shouting become clearer. It wasn't just a single shout but an assorted cacophony of playful screams. Very strange. Out here, in the middle of nowhere with no sign of civilisation with only this dirt track as access.

The track eventually meets a sharp hairpin turn downwards. At this point a footpath leads straight ahead, through a tree covered area and to the supposed site of the waterfall although there was certainly no sound of running water. A steep bank leads down to a stream and this involves a clamber down its sides by an old fallen tree, then using stepping stones to get to the other bank and another clamber up and out. The stream appeared to spring from just below the waterfall area which was a flat piece of riverbed bounded by steep rocky sides and numerous boulders, but as dry as a bone. Calcified remains covered the sides, rocks and tree roots all taking on an eerie visage as if all had been turned to stone by some devious spell from a period in the mythical Greek past.

However the lack of water, and the calcification was not the most remarkable thing that was first noticed. It was the people who sat on the boulders. Yes, people. Humans. Out here in the middle of nowhere. And what is more, these were not locals, not farmers or villagers. No, these were most certainly tourists which was so easy to tell from their attire. And not even walking tourists as they lacked backpacks and walking shoes but were made up as if it was a casual afternoons outing. However our surprise was not as great as that of the tourists when they caught sight of us two walkers. It was clear they were under the illusion that they were in an undiscovered and uninhabited region of Rhodes and were the worthy dignitaries to have been led to this secret place. To have two casual walkers stumble upon such a secretive lair was certainly not one of their expectations.

After some initial greetings, it soon became apparent that this was a part of an organized excursion known as The Jungle Walk. They had been driven to the area, had lunch in the river, seen wildlife, including turtles and fish, and then had trekked up the river to the waterfall. That explained the abandoned truck and the wet flip flops. And the noise? The shouting? The mythical Greek 22 footed beast that lurked in these parts? That was a small group including children who their guide had taken further up, beyond the waterfall, to some caves. We was told he was quite a unique tour guide.

It wasn't long before this character arrived back to guide the group back down the valley. Unique was a choice description of this man. This was the entertaining and flamboyant Nikos Papas and this was his territory which he seemed to pride and revel in. Dressed in traditional Greek costume, he provided a truly unique excursion like no other. He enthused and complimented us on finding his waterfall, speaking in his 'best' English with a voice full of joviality. He asked how we got there. He asked as to our route back. He clarified the route noting that we would need to negotiate a collapsed bridge which was achievable with some effort. After much photo taking and hand shaking he left us to lead his adventurers back down the river valley and pointing to the higher ground where the track would be our route.

And just like Nikos had explained, just around the corner a collapsed bridge was encountered. A concrete slab, broken into several parts littered a crevice where a stream would no doubt gush its waters during the rainy season and was probably the cause of the bridge collapse. The banks down the side were steep and composed mainly of crumbly clay soil mixed with stone. This was easy to get down but presented a challenge to get up the other side as there was little to grip on to pull oneself up, the soil crumbling in ones hand if any force was exerted upon it. The challenge was met. With effort and care the obstacle was overcome and provided a sense of achievement.

Soon after, an incorrect path was taken down into the tall rushes. There we found a hidden and beat up Renault car, various cooking implements and a line of clothes. Most likely another of Nikos' dens, after all we were told that he would entertain his guests with a meal in the river and this was probably the location!

The path emerges back onto the track up to the road. There is a spring on the right hand side as the track heads up to the road. This appears to be a well used water source since on the way down we noted two cars there with folk filling up water bottles, and returning another car pulled up to fill water bottles.

All in all this is a wondrous walk. It is challenging finding ones way. It is full of exploration. But given a full day, and with this only being under 7 miles in total, it is well worth the effort and affords the time to get lost on the route. If you are not up to the challenge then have a word with Nikos Papas and join one of his Jungle Walks.

Beaten up van with flip flops
Beaten up van with flip flops

Directions

The route follows tracks and road through to the waterfall upstream from Malona, continuing on to the main road and Archangelos. It is highly recommended that the use of a route tracker app is used to follow this walk. This route can be found on the ViewRanger app.

The walk starts on the Archangelos side of Malona where there is a little chapel on the right hand side of the road as it heads out into open countryside. The chapel features an open two storied tower with a cross atop and two bells just behind this. Immediately opposite the chapel is a narrow road between the houses which is the start of the walk.

Walking up this narrow road, after 60m take the first right hand turn into another narrow road between the houses. Follow this up a gradient to a t-junction.

Turn right onto track out of the town and through orange groves. Keep to the main track, ignoring all side tracks.

There is a house on the right and after another 100m past this the track bends to the right (ignore the left track), then bends back to the left (ignore the track on the right).

Keep to the main track ignoring all other side tracks. After 450m there is a y-junction with an olive tree at the centre that is visible from some distance before. This is 100m after a track on the left - do not confuse this with the y-junction. Take the right fork at this point and continue onwards ignoring all other side tracks.

Continue for another 340m until there is a crossing of tracks with a fence on the right. Go straight across at this point towards the track with a small stone cairn beside it, ignoring the main track that curves around to the right and a lesser track on the left.

The track curves around to the right then turns a sharp left. Ignore the track leading off to the right. After 320m the track ends, with a lesser track leading off to the left and up a rise to a blue domed chapel. This can be seen by taking a few steps along this track. Do not take this, but turn right and follow a lesser track which has a stone water culvert running along the left side.

After 150m where the path turns towards the right, keep to the left, up past a ruined stone building on a scrubby narrow path.

After a further 80m the path emerges onto a concrete track. Turn right and follow this down the hill, keeping to the track until it passes over the stream, turns left and then meets with a made up road. This is the old highway which is little used these days. At the point where this meets the road there is a concrete track leading off to the left. One can either take this track or the road. The following description uses the road, although the track will be met again at the Moni Eleomonitria monastery.

The road leads up gentle gradient with a small chapel on the right after 670m. The road rises further with more dramatic scenery looking across the valley. After 1.3km of road walking, as the road bends to the right then left around a steep valley, there is a concrete track on the left with a direction marker pointing to Moni Eleomonitria. Take this track which leads around a hairpin turn, past a little chapel on the right.

Keep to the track as it leads down into the valley. Keep to the left at the y-junction after 540m and continue for a total of 960m, passing over a stream, eventually meeting a junction with a chapel complex on the right and accompanying tall cypress trees. This is the Moni Eleomonitria. The track leading in from the left is where one emerges if the road route is ignored.

Take the track on the right past the monastery ignoring all other side-tracks. The track twists and bends through the lush valley. After 1.2km (15-20 minutes walking) the track makes a sharp right hairpin turn downwards. A footpath leads directly ahead at the turn into a wooded area.

After 50m, on the right, down a steep bank is the stream. One needs to clamber down this bank and use the stones to step across the water, then clamber up the opposite bank. The best place to do this is by a fallen tree which lies down the bank.

Briefly continue in the same direction on the opposite bank to an open area with some concrete ducting that bridges the area. Just beyond this is the waterfall although in dry times of the year there will be no water, although the surrounding banks are covered in the calcified remains of the flowing water.

To return, go back a few yards then take the rise up to a large flat area with a broad path leading ahead out of it. This curves around to the left then crosses a small ravine. Unfortunately, the bridge across this has collapsed and one needs to negotiate a way down to the bottom and up again. This is a little challenging.

Keep to the main track and ignore all side tracks. After 320m from the collapsed bridge, keep to the left on the main track ignoring the side track which leads down to the river.

After a further 250m, once again keep to the main track, ignoring those on the left.

The track bends to the left past a building, then turns sharp right and after another 70m turns another right following the main track throughout. After another 200m keep on the main track bending left, ignoring the track to the right.

After another 700m (10 mins walk) the track junctions with the concrete track that leads up to the road. Continue straight ahead and up to the road on this track, the same route that was used from the road.

At the road, turn left, follow the road as it bends around the mountain side and then makes a steady descent of 1km down to the crossroads with the main highway 95. Straight ahead leads into Archangelos. To the right is the bus stop back to Lindos and to the left the bus stop to Rhodes.

The blue domed chapel
The blue domed chapel

Features

Monastary of Moni EleomonitriaView in Google Map

This chapel is located at the junction of the path up to the waterfall. Little can be found of the name and even that is only gleaned from a map published by Kompass. Using an online Greek translator this in Greek is μονι ελεομονιτρια, the first word being literally translated as an abbey or friary and the second word is obviously the name of whom this chapel is dedicated to. It is noted that there is a feast day in Archangelos each August (23rd) for Panaghia Alemonitra (Eleimonitria) although it is unknown whether there is any connection to this monastery.

Malona WaterfallView in Google Map

Despite extensive searches little can be found about the waterfall that sits at the head of a valley that extends up from Malona. Neither can the names be determined of the stream that runs down through to the town to meet the river that outfalls close to Haraki. Most of the year these rivers and streams will be dry and there will be no waterfall. Even so, it is still a marvel to wonder at the calcified structures that cover the roots and stones that form the sides to this ravine and act as evidence that a cascading torrent certainly does splash down during some months of the year. local folklore states that if there is no waterfall during the winter months then the people of Rhodes are in for a drought the next year.

Moni Eleomonitria
Moni Eleomonitria

Gallery

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on an image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2017-12-02

Location: Epar.Od. Malona, Archaggelos 851 02, Greece

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