Kalamos is not a conventional island. It is a tall mountain range
which floats on the sea, its northern side overgrowing with towering, thick pine
trees. It is obvious to even the non-specialist visitor that these pines are of
a special species.
They perch everywhere, even at the most precipitous points, sprouting
from the rocks and reaching as far as the edge of the sea, as though they insisted
on demonstrating their superiority over the place.
Even at the first sight from a distance, then, Kalamos captivates
with its unusual, wild landscape. Kalamos has a surface area of around 20 square
kilometres and a highest mountain peak of 200 metres.
There are around 580 permanent residents, increasing in the summer
when friends and relatives visit the island.
The centre of the island is the port of Kalamos, which is on the eastern
side. This is where many people sailing the Ionian moor their boats in order to
visit the island, enjoy some seafood at a seaside taverna or seek refuge from
Work being carried out for the widening the port will increase the
number of boats that can be moored here and ease sea transport, which is the island's
only means of communication with the rest of the world. A caique makes four to
five connections to and from Mytika daily in the summer, bringing passengers and
all types of goods to cover the needs of the island's few residents. The island
has a simple, rural atmosphere.
The houses of Kalamos, clambering high above the port, are stone-built,
most with tiled roofs, built tightly-packed next to each other and intersected
by narrow, winding lanes.
The road which connects the port with the village rises quite steeply
and has many bends. The few cars, used mainly for transporting goods, drive carefully
along the narrow roads. A new road starting at Kalamos ascends high into the mountains
and passes through an amazing pine forest, terminating at the island's other small
Here the few houses, worn by time, are used as summer residences,
drawing their owners to Episkopi each year. It is as though time stopped 50 years
ago. The residents' boats, a vital means of transportation and communication with
the rest of the world, are kept at the small, new port. Episkopi is only ten minutes
from the port to Mytika
on the mainland coast of Aitoloakarnania...
On the other side of the island is Porto Leone, a charming, little
bay so named by the Venetians who first drew up the maps of the area. Nearby
is an old bridge built many centuries ago. The pine forest is very rare and the
only other forests of this type are found on the Sporades
islands in the Aegean Sea. It is a thickly-grown verdant forest, powerful and
vibrant and home to many species of birds. The road from Kalamos to Episkopi also
leads down to the little beach of Ayios Konstantinos. Here, right in front of
the waves, there is a small and pretty private church dedicated to Ayios Donatos,
a saint encountered mainly in the Ionian Islands. Built in stone with a ceramic
tile roof, it stands alone with only the thick foliage to keep it company; soon
it will be in need of care, however, in order to protect it for the future.
Ayios Ioannis, which is one of the oldest churches on the island,
is almost completely ruined. A plaque still remains with an inscription (1648)
of the date when the church was most likely built. Other churches are the church
of Ayios Minas, the church of Episkopi, and Ayios Georgios in the cemetery.
The island has long been farmed. Its mountain is lower in the centre
and towards the south and is much easier to farm at this point. In the past there
was also vine cultivation, but all that remains of this today are the walls that
were used to hold the earth in. There are many olive trees and three windmills
at Agriapidia, where
the whole harvest would be gathered. Kalamos has small, mainly pebbly, beaches
with brilliantly clean waters, access to which is mainly from the sea.
Near the port are the beaches of Myrtia and Asproyiali, whilst further
south are Agriapidia, Pefkoi and Kefali with Kedros, Alexaki, Kipoi and Trachilos
to the west. The island also has some interesting caves.
The road that goes from Kalamos to Episkopi has not had much of an
effect on the landscape and is ideal for all those who delight in rambling through
a beautiful natural environment. The island has only a few cultural monuments.
It does, however, have a remarkable natural landscape and an atmosphere which
transports the visitor to eras long gone. ve a remarkable natural landscape and
an atmosphere which transports the visitor to eras long gone.