Nea Malgara – West embankemt of Axios – Loudias estuary
- Distance: 20 km.
- Time on vehicle: 55 min.
This route is full of surprises. If you are lucky you will see the wild horses of Axios and if you time it right you`ll enjoy a spectacular sunset from the estuary of the Loudias.
The west embankment
You can get to this part of the National Park either from the junction of Nea Malgara, on the highway Athens – Thessaloniki, or from the west embankment of the Axios, after the bridge of Halastra – Kimina.
The route on the west embankment begins to get interesting at the level of the national road to the north, where you start to see the river, the riverine vegetation, and the farming and stock raising that goes on here.
The biggest surprise for the visitor are the feral horses of the Axios. You can usually see them grazing on the riverine wet meadows. In the 60s, when agriculture became mechanized, the horses were abandoned here by farmers who no longer needed them. They survived and bred and are now part of the wildlife of the Axios Delta.
On reaching the sea, you will see a large reed bed, bustling with life: Western marsh harriers, herons, spoonbills, shelducks, pygmy cormorants and in the marshes you will see Northern lapwings, Eurasian curlews, snipes, as well as greenshanks and common redshanks. Reedbeds are home to many bird and fish species, but they also filter and purify the water.
In the estuary of Loudias
Heading on along the coastline you will reach the estuary of Loudias river. Here you will find the wooden huts of the mussel farmers of Kimina and Nea Malgara, a whole interesting little community, complete with a church and little taverna. Here you can find out about the ships and the tools that the mussel farmers use for their work.
In winter time the sea is full of different species of aquatic birds. Mute swans, Dalmatian pelicans and flamingos are frequent visitors here.
Through the fields
You can return to the National Road following the unpaved road behind the mussel huts. This part of the route is of great interest to ornithologists, the stars of the show are Herons – Little Egrets, Great Egrets and Grey Herons- which feed in the rice fields, and there is a supporting cast of waders which gather wherever there is water. You might also be surprised by a splendid Hen Harrier or even, wow! a crane in winter.
- Look for the wild horses of Axios, around in the middle of the route on the west embankment. It will be much more fun if you have binoculars or a camera with a zoom.
- Enjoy the sunset from the estuary of Loudias river. When the sky is clear, the magnificent Mount Olympus dominates the background.