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5 fantastic adventures in the Peloponnese

Rolling hills, towering cliffs, crashing rivers and mile upon mile of lush vineyards: not what first springs to mind when imagining a trip to Greece...

There's more to Greece than luxurious islands (Flickr: F Mira)

The Peloponnese in Greece's southern mainland is home to a wonderful variety of activity for outdoorsy types, set against the backdrop of some of Europe's most beautiful countryside.

For those who fancy something a little different from their trip to the land of the gods, here are five great adventures on offer in this wonderful region:

1. Start your day with a 'dip' in the Corinth Canal

Flinging yourself off tall things is an activity more akin to a trip to Australia, South Africa or New Zealand. However the 80m plunge into the void of the Corinth Canal, Corinthia, has been described as one of the best bungee jumps in the world and a life changing experience (in the best possible way!). Views at the top of the jump into the sheer gorge of the canal are stunning and the chord can be weighted to allow you a refreshing dip in the waters of the canal below.

The jump site is just an hour's drive from Athens in the north-east Peloponnese, and the local town of Corinth is full of great little places to stay, with plenty of tempting restaurants nearby.

2. Cycle the wine routes of Arcadia

The Peloponnese is home to a third of Greece's grape vines and over 1,200 wine labels. The region of Arcadia in particular has been producing great wines for centuries; according to philosopher Theophrastos, 'men lost their minds when they drank it and women got pregnant'.

A great way to explore the history and geography of Greece's wine country, and of course have a few tasters, is by bike. Set up by The Wine Producers Association of the Peloponnese, the Wine Routes take in both the most popular and lesser known producers, stopping in picturesque villages and sites of historical significance too.

3. Venture 3km into the great sea cave of Diros

Diros Bay in Lakonia, the very south of the Peloponnese, is home to the spectacular 10,000 sq metre Glyfada sea cave which can be explored via a 3km tour on foot and by boat. The cave winds in and out of caverns and chambers, each revealing different beautiful mineral formations, giant stalactites and stalagmites, and stunning natural interior decoration.

In stark contrast to the subterranean cave world, Lakonia is also a haven for climbers. The Langada Climbing Range is located at Kaiadas, the ravine into which the Spartans are said to have cast their weak or sick children. There are over 60 challenging limestone climbing trails here across the Aloni, Petsanes, Tourlitsa and Stani ranges covering landscapes from towering cliffs to plunging ravines. An amazing experience but not for the faint hearted!

The Langada Climbing range is around 15km from the town of Sparta and can be reached by road via the Corinth -Tripoli national highway. There are plenty of hotels here and a good smattering of excellent guest houses and tavernas in the nearby villages.

4. Hike the 20km Neda Gorge

The Neda river crashes along the breathtakingly beautiful 20km gorge of the same name, dropping at various points down sparkling cascades as it flows on its journey into the Ionian Sea.

The gorge, located in the region of Messinia, can be entered from various points and the trek along its full length takes around two days; walkers should come prepared for a challenging but beautiful hike taking in stunning waterfalls and crystal blue pools. The best time to visit is in May to September when the weather is at its driest: in the winter the water is too rough for any access.

The gorge is best accessed from the village of Platania and there is the option of a couple of shorter routes which give just a taster.

5. Be enchanted by Foloi oak forest, Ilia 

600m above sea level on the borders of Ilia, Arcadia and Achaia, Foloi oak forest is named after the Centaur Pholus, who was wounded in a great battle in the forest by a stray arrow from his friend Hercules. Covering an area of around 220,000 acres, it is a designated site under Natura 2000 regulation, and is made up mainly of ancient, towering broadleaf oaks.

A stroll through the forest is a truly magical experience, and the views out over the surrounding plains and mountains are breathtaking. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of wild animals such as wolves, deer, boars and foxes which live in the woods.

The forest is best accessed from the village of Lala, 15km away.

Want to plan your own trip to the Greek region of Peloponnese? Find information and advice on: www.mythicalpeloponnese.gr

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