Mount Ainos, Kefalonia – A walk in the Ainos National Park

As if rising from the endless blue of the sea and standing tall and massive, Mount Ainos has a National Park of unique beauty and rarity. The Ainos National Park in Kefalonia is close to Argostoli and Sami and is the smallest national park in Greece. which covers an area of ​​1973 hectares. Various species of shrubs appear in the fir forest, such as gorse, hawthorn, etc. Northwest of Ainos on Mount Roudi, rich shrub vegetation covers an area of ​​46 hectares and is a separate part in the forest. The spruce forests of Mount Ainos are so dark green that they look almost black, so the Venetians called it Monte Nero (“Black Mountain”). Such was the reputation of the mountain that when a Kefalonian named Marinos Metaxas had an audition with Napoleon, the Emperor asked him what the famous forests of the Black Mountain were like. In the higher rocky areas the thorny phrygana prevail. In addition to the rich flora of the forest, its fauna is also of great importance. Mammals such as foxes, ferrets, hares and others are protected here, as well as rare birds and reptiles (partridges and snakes). Inside the park, the famous wild horses of Ainos find refuge. Some claim to be descendants of the wild horses of Thessaly, one of the three ancient Greek breeds now extinct, as their resemblance to ancient horse sculptures is truly striking. Others believe they are descended from animals that escaped or were released. Most likely, these are horses that escaped or were released and originated from the ponies of Pindos, which were captured, distributed and sold in horse bazaars in Etoloakarnania (in the Greek mainland opposite Kefalonia, north of Corinth) and Arta. They managed to survive in the wild in a small number of herds. Today only a few dozen are left on the slopes of Ainos. The park is a paradise for hikers, especially on its eastern side, which is wilder. The flora is rich in endangered species, such as endemic orchid varieties. The fauna is also very interesting, with predators, reptiles and small mammals (foxes for example), which are very rare in other parts of Kefalonia or on other islands. During a long walking route more surprises will appear. Uncharted paths, mysterious lakes and caves of incomparable beauty are waiting for you to explore!

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