By Maria Paravantes
A total of 33 students are currently studying to become professional mountain hiking guides as part of a newly introduced IEK (Institute for Vocational Training) program with classes being held at the historic Stemnitsa Silver-Gold-Smithery School located in the heart of the village.
Courses include first aid and rescue, climbing, tourism law, mythology and history, risk management, guiding techniques, nature and environment which includes geology, flora and fauna, geography, ecology, meteorology and environmental protection.
Speaking to GTP Headlines, Ioannis Lagos, head of the Menalon social cooperative behind the protection of the region and the promotion of the Menalon Trail, underlined the significance of the program, which he said not only supports the certified hiking experience and strengthens the tourism product but also brings people back to the villages. “The goal now is to expand the network to 1,500km and ensure the means for its financial viability.”
Initially, graduates will cover the needs of hiking programs running in the region. Students are currently gaining hands-on experience trekking the footpaths of Arcadia.
The two-day 1st Greek Trails Conference was held together with 3rd European Leading Quality Trails meeting marking the official certification of the eight-path Menalon Trail network, which has thus far been visited by over 6,000 hikers and walkers.