The sunny Sunday morning was the main reason for me to do another exploration of the highlands of Xanthi. I started for this small trip, even though the temperature barely reached 9-10 degrees Celcius.
When someone is driving at the road from Xanthi to Thessaloniki –at the Toxotes junction (12 km) – he will meet an informational sign concerning the places “Stena” and “Nestos observation post” (12km). For as long as I am at Xanthi, almost daily, I bypass that sign. So I decided to go and take a visit to these specific sightseeing.
Along with the assistance of a tourist guide, a map and plenty of appetite for exploration, I left the main driving network, following the sign for “Toxotes” and “Galani”. At the railroad crossing, I turned right, following the tourist road “Kromniko – Livera – Komnina”.
Driving on the thin, but relatively in good condition, road with the easy turns, I reached the junction for “Imera” (6 km). Imera is an abandoned settlement that nevertheless, has a renovated hosting house and a small but very beautiful church that offers a fantastic view.
The road, going uphill, reached the Nestos observation post, at an altitude of 891m. The post is well known, since it offers the unique view of the meanders that are created by the route of river Nestos, while going through the mountains. The landscape is unique!! While I was there, I noticed a metal plate, a map, on whom there were carved the most important sightseeing of the area (the surrounding mountains, the Nestos river narrow places, Thasos and Thasopoula islands, villages, settlements etc.) along with information on their history. The map is placed so that you can easily identify their orientation.
I managed to convince myself to move on from the post and continue North, to the deserted villages of Kromniko (6,5 km) and Livera (13 km). They were abandoned during the 50’s and 60’s, since their inhabitants migrated to the big cities and to Germany.
A section of the route is recently being with asphalt. The first 6 km though – from the Nestos post till Kromniko – are dirt road, having many difficult spots with big rocks. Of course, for an on-off motorcycle, it’s considered –on my personal opinion- a relatively easy route. Having big patience and caution, I managed to cross this section without any problems.
Reaching outside the settlement of Kromniko, I found the road with asphalt. The only building that is still standing up on this stone-made settlement is the small church of Agios Panteleimonas (recently renovated). I made a stop to rest for a while and noticed that in a far distance there was a group of wild horses that were grazing. I tried to come closer to them in order to photograph them. Unfortunately, once they noticed my presence, they left. Their presence there confirmed my suspicions about the information that I got a while ago, that the widen area hosts groups of wild horses.
I left, slightly disappointed that I couldn’t see them from a closer distance, heading for the settlement of Livera (6 km). The road, even though it was narrow enough, was in a very good condition, providing also support barriers on each side of the road. The route was delightful, crossing small green valleys and landscapes of short sprouting.
Reaching outside the settlements of Ano and Kato Livera, I decided to visit them, since I knew that there was the abandoned train station. Most of the houses were made of stones and were half-ruined. To my surprise, on one of the very few houses that were still standing up – and renovated – the owner had the German and Greek flag outside…. Probably the only inhabitant of the settlement was a migrant.
I crossed approximately 2-3 km of decent dirt road which had really some difficult spots. From a point and forward, its quality was just getting worst. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach the train station that was probably located near Nestos river. So, I decided to return.
At this point, I would like to mention that at the side-river route of river Nestos, there are some paths that are known as “the railroad paths”. Their starting mark is located outside the village Galani and with the stations of Kromniko (5,5 km) and Livera (3 km) they end up at Stavroupoli (10 km). For the hikers, it’s being said that, they make up a fantastic experience. For those that want to visit them, they need to be informed prior, due to some difficult and dangerous points.
Leaving Livera behind, I continued until I met another group of wild horses that were grazing, at a relatively far distance. Trying to move such a way that I could be as less noticeable as I could, I made a stop to stare at them, even far …
Having crossed around 2-3 km, I reached at the point that a kiosk exists, along with a sign “You’re at the colony of the …predators”. As mentioned, near this point, there are some feeding points for various wild birds like, “Thalassaetos”, “Asproparis” and “Ornio”. I decided to follow by foot, the route that the sign was mentioning, as also the tracks that a vehicle left recently, in order to find the feeding points. I was hoping that I could see in short distance some of these rare birds.
I walked approximately 800-1000m through a beautiful green landscape, until I found myself on top of a small hill. I may not have found the feeding points, but I managed to see from a close distance, closer than 10 meters, a group of 6-7 horses!!! I expected to find them somewhere else and I ended up finding them here… I managed to shoot some photos before they notice me and start running at the opposite direction.
Feeling in part happy about my success, I returned to my motorcycle and departed, heading for the village of Komnina, which was approximately 4-5 kilometers far. The road was downhill, offering many excellent spots viewing the Nestos valley, Komnina but also Stavroupoli.
Once I got inside Komnina, the village appeared deserted. Maybe I got this impression due to the fact that the time was almost 3 pm. I wandered a little bit and decided to get back, since even the one and only coffee house of the village in the central square was closed. Good luck smiled at me, since heading outside of the village, I noticed a big building that looked like a castle. I headed there, discovering that it was actually a … hotel! I changed my mind instantly and made a stop to enjoy a coffee, before heading back.
Sitting right next to the fireplace of the cafeteria, I was reading some information about Komnina. I then discovered that almost 1 km outside the village (and on the way to Stavroupoli) there’s an ancient Macedonian Tomb. Viewing the photos, I realized that it’s been maintained on a very good condition. From what I’ve understood –most probably- there isn’t a specific timetable that it opens to the public. The conducted tour is being carried out by a Antique keeper (Mister Kostelis S. – telephone 25420-22040). Anyone that’s interested on touring the tomb, must get in contact with this person first, in order to schedule an appointment. The time had already pass in order to do something like this…
Around 4:30 pm I departed heading for Stavroupoli (5-6 km) and then to Xanthi (27 km). The setting sun was creating magnificent color schemes on the horizon, while I was driving my last kilometers for the current day…
This specific trip, even though it was not many kilometres, constitutes a remarkable one-day escape, mainly for the off-road friends. It combines different landscapes, with unique view spots, as also with stone-paved paths for hiking.