Fonias is the most famous and most important river in Samothrace. Its starts its journey somewhere around the steep heights of Mount Saos and flows into the Thracian Sea somewhere east of Therma. Here and there it runs rapidly through the rocks, giving birth to several waterfalls and vathres, the natural stone carved pools which are a trademark of the island. In the summer its valley is crowded with people hiking the mountain trails or simply enjoying a refreshing dip in the water or the cool shadow of the forest.
In Greek, Fonias means "killer, criminal". Maybe in ancient times someone met his end in its waters. Or maybe it's because after the heavy rains, the raging river overflows and causes damage, thus justifying the negative connotations of the name. Fonias also lends its name to the medieval tower on the beach, near its mouth and to the craft beer produced on the island and called Fonias Pale Ale.
The beginning of the trail
The starting point of the trail through the Fonias Valley is on the north coast of the island, about 5 kilometers as you go from Therma to Kipos Beach, the east end of the road. Right after crossing a bridge you'll notice a parking lot on the right, under the trees. There is enough space here in spring and autumn, but in July and August the place is so crowded that the cars are parked on the roadside. In the summer you'll also meet all kinds of boho people selling jewelry, honey or local spices.
Our advice: keep away from the toilets on the left side, there are unusable!
The first waterfall
The trail to the first waterfall of Fonias river is easy and perfect for beginners, children included. It is a path that will take you, with very little elevation gain, along the valley, through a forest that looks like out of a fairy tale – the enchanted forest, with secular plane trees, with hollow trunks and twisted branches, shaping strange forms. Some say that the place is loaded with energy, which is why the trees would grow so weird.
Electric blue translucent dragonflies flap their wings around you and sometimes they let themselves be photographed sitting on your hand. Colorful butterflies flutter among the flowers and little frogs jump in and out of the water here and there.
At times the vegetation is dense and the path is bordered by tall ferns, going up above your knees. The whole landscape resembles a jungle. Every now and then the river forms pools, perfect for taking a refreshing dip.
The trail is marked with a red dot, but the color is so faded that you barely can notice the markers. Just remember to follow the path and the river. At a certain point, about 30 minutes into the trail, the path takes you over some large rocks. Immediately after there's a big fallen tree you have to walk around.
At the end of the trail you will reach a big vathra, which is hidden by a large flat rocky area, where tourists often sunbathe. On the left side, some signs hanging from the trees warn you that from here you are on your own. Somebody wrote on them, complaining about the poor trail markings.
To see the waterfall, you must cross the river and climb a steep slope. On the opposite side you'll see the 15 meters high waterfall in all its splendor.
The hike takes about 30 minutes of fast walking or 45 minutes-1 hour of slow walking, if you want to take photos or admire the scenery.
For the second waterfall you have to continue climbing the slope. The red markings are now visible, but the trail is more demanding and no longer recommended for children. For several minutes the path climbs sharply upwards and then it gets easier, turning left, towards the river. A wonderful view of the island's lush northern coast opens up as you get higher up the mountain. It really gets you thinking of how green and full of life Samothrace is. At a certain point you'll notice some red arrows painted on the rock. They indicate the direction to Kleidosi waterfall. However in order to reach Gerania you should keep walking ahead and then down to the river. As you descend, a heavenly scenery will unfold before your eyes. The waterfall (also called "of the naturists") is not so high and impressive as the first one, but the place itself looks like something out of a dream. The water flows into a large crystal clear vathra, colored in different shades of blue and green. It is indeed one of the most beautiful places on the island.
Hiking time from the first waterfall to Gerania: 20-30 minutes.