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Cycling the Mani: off the beaten track in Greece’s wild Peloponnese

Cycling the Mani: off the beaten track in Greece’s wild Peloponnese

Vathia at sunsetALAMY As life gathers pace and we make up for time lost over the past two years, it is easy to forget how,…

Saturday, Jun 11

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Vathia at sunsetALAMY As life gathers pace and we make up for time lost over the past two years, it is easy to forget how, under a blue, plane-free sky in 2020, there were many of us who made post-pandemic promises to travel differently — less often, more meaningfully, slower.

Not everyone needed a global catastrophe to reach this conclusion. Oli Broom, whom I met in the autumn of 2017, was inspired by a mammoth cycle ride from London to Australia to launch a boutique cycling-holiday company, the Slow Cyclist. Rwanda and Romania — an unlikely duo — were the first destinations he offered. Now he’s added two holidays in Greece : one in the northern mainland region around Zagori; the other in the south, concentrating on the Mani peninsula, the middle prong of the Peloponnese.

And so I find myself with a group of nine like-minded friends, all — how shall I put it — gently nudging towards the back end of middle age, but still fulfilling the description in our briefing notes of “curious travellers with a bit of juice in their legs”. Villa Ilias LOUISA NIKOLAIDOU Villa Ilias LOUISA NIKOLAIDOU Our Greek odyssey begins in what is beguilingly known as the Deep Mani, the rugged southern and southwestern reaches of the peninsula. Its residents claim to be the only true Maniots, dismissing those of the Outer Mani (the northwestern region) and the Lower Mani (the northeastern region) as false descendants of those ancient Spartan warriors who famously ensured […]

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