Responsible tourism: Meditation, healing and holistic holiday in Greece
During our healing retreats we enjoy a slow pace and we have minimal impact on the environment. The Pelion peninsula is a protected area by law. In recent years a local initiative (of which our guides are members) “Friends of the Kalderini” have cleaned and restored many of the ancient donkey paths that have been used for centuries to convey goods up and down Mt Pelion. By using these now well marked restored stone paths we lessen the scarring so often seen in fragile mountain areas. We leave nothing on the mountain and beaches, taking away only memories and snapshots of our brief stay. All of the walks start within 1/2 hour of the Kissos village Centre.
At the Centre itself, our vegetable garden and fruit orchards are 100% organic. We buy as much organic produce as possible, and buy in bulk from the weekly Friday organic market in Larissa city through a local organic farmer. We compost all kitchen waste and recycle glass, paper-cardboard, metal and plastic. We endeavor to avoid needless waste. We eschew the use of plastic bags when shopping, instead carrying and re-using our own cotton cloth bags. Hot water for showering and washing up is heated by solar panels. We only use biologically friendly detergents and soaps. More and more of our gardens are being converted to permaculture.
Mt Pellion is famous for the pristine beauty of the lush green mountain ecosystem. Jealously guarded by the mountain community, the area remains off the beaten tourist track and has thereby retained its authentic Greek character. Mt Pelion is fully protected and walking tours help to educate visitors to the fragile life of the forest which is predominately deciduous consisting of Beech, Chestnut, Cherry and Oak, with a smattering of Pine. Much of the produce grown on its Eastern slope where we are located is the result of ancient traditions of rearing goats and sheep for milk, cheese, yoghurt and meat, and growing vegetables and fruits on a small scale.
The area is famed for its apples, olives, wild mushrooms and the chestnuts which are foraged by locals in the autumn. In recent years as people discover the benefits of organic produce, more and more local farmers are turning to organic methods, and we support them by buying selectively from them whenever we van. Local tavernas (restaurants), cafés and mini-markets benefit from our patronage as do the farms and local veg vans which supply most of our ingredients. The local “Friends of the Kalderini” benefits from our support in the maintenance of trails and signs.
We have spent a dozen years building contact with local establishments in order to ensure that our guests receive the best of local hospitality. The first Wednesday of July we have an open evening for the villagers of Anilio and Kissos where we provide mezes and wine for nearly 100 people. The highlight is Greek dancing with children and adults joining in enthusiastically.