As if rising from the infinite blue sea, standing tall and solid, mount Ainos features a National Park of unique beauty and rarity. The National Park of Ainos in Kefalonia is close to Argostoli and Sami and it is the smallest national park in Greece.
Ainos National Park was established in 1962 in order to protect the indigenous specimen of elati (Abies Cephalonica), which covers a ground of 1973 hectares.
In the fir forest appear various specimens of bushes such as gortsies, krategi, etc. Northwest of Ainos in Roudi mountain, lush vegetation of bushes covers a ground of 46 hectares and is a separate part inside the park. Τhe fir forests of Mt. Ainos are so dark green looking almost black, that the Venetians called the mountain Monte Nero (‘Black Mountain’). Such was the mountain’s fame that when a Kefalonian named Marínos Metaxás had an audience with Napoleon, the Emperor asked him how the famous forests of the Black Mountain were faring.
In the highest rocky areas prevail briar genistas. Αpart from the rich flora of the park, its fauna is also of high importance. Mammals such as fox, beech marten, hare and others, as well as rare birds and serpents (petroperdika and fidaetos) shelter here.
Inside the Park shelter the famous wild horses of Ainos. Some claim these are descendants of the wild horses of Thessaly, one of three ancient Greek breeds now extinct, since their similarity to ancient horse sculptures is really impressive. Others reckon they are descended from escaped or released livestock. Most likely they are escaped / released horses descended from Pindos ponies, which were captured, broken and traded at horse fairs in Aitoloakarnania (the Greek mainland opposite Kefalonia, north of the Gulf of Corinth) and Arta.
They managed to survive in the wild nature in scant of number herds. Today only a few dozens have remained in the slopes of Ainos.
The park is a paradise for hikers, especially on its East side, which is more savage. The flora is rich of indangered species in danger like endemic varieties of orchids. The fauna is very interesting too, with rapaces, reptiles and little mammals (foxes by instance), wich are very rare elsewhere on Cephalonia or on other islands.
During a long hike more surprises are to come. Uncharted trails, mysterious lakes and caves of unrivalled beauty await you to explore!
see more photos here: The Splendid wildnerness of Mt Ainos, Kefalonia Island