The Lesser Kestrel – protection of a species

The Lesser Kestrel (Kirkinezi in Greek) is one of the most characteristic examples of birds have adapted their lifestyle in order to coexist with humans, feeding mostly on larger insects and small rodents.

It is a small bodied falcon with no particular requirements for nesting – which is why it has managed to create its home in man-made buildings – under rooftop tiles, inside warehouses or even churches. The traditional style of buildings with tile roofs in the villages of Thessaly was an ideal abode for this species. But as architectural styles and construction methods changed over time, it became increasingly difficult for the kestrel to find suitable nesting spots in the region’s villages and towns. This is one of the reasons why its population declined significantly over recent decades.

As a result, the Greek Ornithological Society, in cooperation with the nearby municipalities Riga Fereiou and Kileler, created more than 150 artificial nests for kestrels in 11 villages across the plain of Thessaly, under the EU-funded LIFE program. Thanks to these efforts, in 2015 the Society recorded more than 600 lesser kestrels in four villages neighbouring the lake.



Location: Thessaly & Sporades › Lake Karla & Mavrovouni

More Activities

More Activities In lake-karla-mavrovouni You Might Like
Ano Kanali – Pyrgos (map 1B – trail 5)

The trail is part of the Natura 2000 sites of Karla-Mavrovouni-Kefalovryso-Velestino and Mt Mavrovouni, which are areas of rich biodiversity. Even expert hikers consider this trail difficult, chiefly because it covers more than 14 km (around five hours walk) in a single direction. However, if you plan ahead and opt to stop at various points of interest, you can make a great day of it. Regional authorities are working on numerous plans to revamp the area and add museums, ecological, hiking, riding, cycling and bird watching facilities and more. For now there are also lovely views of Lake Karla as well as stopovers at the chapels of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Saint Panteleimon, Saint Paraskevi and Saint Athanasios in Ano Kanalia.

Chatzimisiotiki Magoula – Agios Athanasios hill (map 2A – trail 8)

Unlike most of the other trails in the area, which involve trekking high into the mountains, this trail takes you along Lake Karla’s southwestern shores, past picturesque wetlands and mountain landscapes. The trail is ideal in springtime but somewhat unpleasant in high summer when hot temperatures along the Rizomilos-Stefanovikeio plain can be stifling. Chatzimisiotiki Magoula is a former islet and prehistoric site, and only the beginning of a wonderful walk that includes great bird watching spots as well as several Mycenaean tombs along the southern shores of Lake Karla. St. Athanasios chapel, on top of a hill, is a great place to end, offering excellent views of Lake Karla, Thessaly’s plain, Mt Mavrovouni and, on a clear day, Mt Ossa and Mt Olympus.

Milos Glymeni, North Pelion

Around 15 km from Agiokampos, this somewhat isolated beach can be reached by following the road to Sklithro, after Rakopotamos beach. Ideal for nature lovers who want to get away from organized beach sports and umbrellas, this pebble beach is also popular among divers as there are some shipwrecks to be explored, including a German vessel originating from WWII.

Agiokampos, Larissa

Clean, wide, fun and beautiful Agiokapos beach connects with Sotiritsa and Velika beaches in a 14 km stretch of Blue Flag awarded coastline. The beaches, which are on the southern coast of Larissa, also have two child-friendly camping facilities and nearby tennis and basketball courts. At Velika you can also enjoy the shade of lush trees, while at Agiokampos you can hop on a boat and visit the sea caves in Veneto and the beaches of Magnesia.

Polydendri Forest

This is an important habitat for raptors and the falcons, which spend its summers here. Breeding species include the European honey buzzard Pernis apivorus, the Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus, the Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, the Levant sparrowhawl Accipiter brevipes, the Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, the Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, the Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, the Roller Coracias garrulus and the Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius.

Nea Anchialos, below Volos

Awarded with a Blue Flag in 2013, Nea Anchialos offers 20 km of impressive coastline, where there is something for everyone… You’ll find beaches with a unique reddish sand, suitable for sand-baths for people suffering from rheumatism, and golden sand beaches and rocky cliffs to dive from into the crystal waters. Here you will also find facilities for water sports, seaside restaurants as well as deckchairs and umbrellas to rent. Beware that at some parts of Nea Anchialos coastline, the sea shelves quite steeply downwards off the beach, so non-swimmers need to take care.

Kato Kalamaki – Lake Karla’s artificial wetland area (map 2B – trail 10)

A relatively easy walk that offers some great sights, this trail mainly leads you along flat roads and the western dike of Lake Karla, close to the artificial wetland area (created in a bid to help protect and promote the local natural life after the Lake was drained). It takes around 2-2.5 hours to get from Kato Kalamaki, where you will observe 12 water reservoirs, to the lake’s pumping station. Bird watchers will enjoy this route, as there are various great spots for sightings, while visitors can even stop to enjoy some fishing.

Stefanovikeio – Petra (Skala) (map 2B – trail 9)

This 2.5 hour trail (7.5km) starts at was the base of Lake Karla’s administrative seat during the Ottoman occupation, and concludes at Petra, one of the area’s most important prehistoric sites. Along the trail you can visit the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Stefanovikeio and the remote chapel of Saint Paraskevi, while also soaking in wondrous panoramic views of the entire area from atop Petra, which is surrounded by Mt Mavrovouni, Mt Pelion and extensive agricultural fields.

Keramidi – Palaioskala (map 1B – trail 4)

This 17 km trail (around 5.5 hours walk) is one of the most scenic walks in the greater area of Lake Karla, starting from the quaintly traditional village of Keramidi. The restored cobblestone trail meanders through a lush forest of oak, chestnut, walnut and various species of Mediterranean maquis along the western slopes of Mt Pelion and Mt Mavrovouni, and offers you the chance to discover the archaeological site of Palaioskala, where remnants of a prehistoric human settlement have been unearthed. Hikers heading along National trail 02 are also likely to come across free-range herds of cows, goats and pigs.

Ai Giannis, Keramidi, North Pelion

On the way from Keramidi to Kamari, turning left towards Agiokampos you will find the pretty pebble beach of Ai Giannis.

Lake Karla

Cormorant, coot, and mallard duck are just some of the types of waterfowl living in Lake Karla, which has developed into a very important wetland that’s home to many types of birds.

Ano Kerasia – Kerasia (map 1A – trail 1)

In this one hour (5.9km) walk downhill from Ano Kerasia to Kerasia, hikers can enjoy taking in stunning panoramic views of Lake Karla and the lush natural beauty of the local flora as its colours and varieties change significantly with the drop in altitude. The walk follows a combination of dirt roads and cobbled paths lovingly maintained by the North Pelion Information Centre. Start the day by exploring the abandoned village of Ano Kerasia, a village that was destroyed by Nazi forces in 1944 as it hosted the 54th E.L.A.S. (Greek People’s Liberation Army) Regiment. Stop to visit the Church of the Apostle Saints and the nearby chapel of Saint Athanasios, and finish with lunch or evening dinner in one of the tavernas of Kerasia, where you can sample local delicacies such as spit-roasted goat or lamb.

Kanalia – Drakopigado (map 2A – trail 7)

A trail you can walk round trip in just over two hours (6.6km) but not with ease, as it’s not marked as a designated path and consists mainly of uphill trekking on narrow and rocky footpaths. The dense vegetation and gorgeous views of Lake Karla and the plain of Thessaly make it worthwhile, as does the a visit to the magnificent, vertical cave of Drakopigado (Dragon’s well). Start at the main square of Kanalia, otherwise known as ‘the women’s village,’ where two old-style fishing huts and a traditional boat can be found, and visit the Ecclesiastical Museum in the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Be careful not to confuse sheep and goat tracks with the walking path.

Rakopotamos, North Pelion

You’ll come across this yellow sand beach with some pebbles on the road to Polydendri, around 8km from Agiokampos. The beach is a popular spot for alternative tourism lovers who enjoy canoeing and following sea trails that lead to waterfalls up to 30 meters high, while at the very end of the beach campers freely pitch up their tents.

Kerasia – Sourvia Monastery (map 1A – trail 3)

This 8.9km walk, which takes around four hours one way, is similar to the Ano Kerasia – Flamouri Monastery walk but considered far more challenging as it involves more hiking on narrow, upward and descending, footpaths. The trail will take you through gorgeous greenery, dramatic panoramas of Sourvia Monastery and its mountainous landscapes angling skyward, and encounters with the area’s fauna. You can also visit the chapel of Panagia Leshiani and the stone-arched bridge at Leshiani and enjoy drinking from natural springs in Kerasia and Leshiani.

Ano Kerasia – Flamouri Monastery (map 1A – trail 2)

A moderately challenging trek that takes around three hours one way (6.4km), this trail will lead you into the embrace of high shady forests, in a part of Mt Pelion that is characterized by steep green hillsides and cascading waterfalls. Apart from enjoying the beauty of this idyllic floral paradise, the walk will bring you to stupendous panoramic views of Mt Pelion’s north-western coastline and Lake Karla. Male hikers may visit the Flamouri Monastery, built in a fabulous location above the village of Veneto. Cyclists, mountaineers and horseback riding enthusiasts can also find recreation in the area around the village.

Glafyra – Saint Nikolaos of Kanalia (map 2A – trail 6)

A relatively easy hike that takes around two hours one way (7.9 km), the trail combines some vibrant mountain landscapes, interesting archaeological and religious sites, zones of geological and architectural attraction, agricultural fields and various scenic perspectives of Lake Karla. Glafyra, also called Kapourna, is a picturesque village mainly inhabited by farmers. Although the trail ends at Saint Nikolaos chapel, the village of Kanalia is one of the prettiest on the northwest side of Mt Pelion, built on the foundation of the acropolis of ancient Voeveis on the plains of Metochi – while there, don’t miss the Byzantine Church of Saint Nikolaos, declared a historical monument. Also to be enjoyed on this trail are the remarkable scenery of Lake Karla, together with its diverse flora and fauna.

Veneto, North Pelion

Access to the sea from Veneto, a tiny village perched on a distant hillside of Pelion, could be described as challenging, but worth it. Adventurous visitors with a penchant for small, beautiful and secluded beaches traipse a dirt road that begins a short distance from where the village’s last houses stand, to seek out Petromelisso beach, a little bay with white rocks and small pebbles.