Neda waterfalls was a long time dream. This gorge is one of the most popular ones in South Peloponnese. We have been many times in Peloponnese. Did lots of gorges too!
Yet, for some weird reason in all our trips we didn’t do the Neda Waterfalls hiking route, until this summer.
It was a really nice and enjoyable experience. Getting there was like the travels of Ulysses and the poem of Greek poet Kavafis. Both show the importance of enjoying from the trip, prior the final destination.
What to know for Neda Waterfalls & Neda River?
It is a 3.30-4 hour trip by car from Athens, so you may want to do this a 2day trip, or include it in your itinerary for South Peloponnese.
The gorge that hosts the river of Neda is located in Peloponnese at the borders of Ilia and Messinia Prefectures. The river comes down from the Mountain Liceo and flows into the Ionian sea between Kiparissia and Zaharo. Both these areas are famous for their beaches.
Anyway, the length of Neda river is 32km. We did 7 of them. Took 6 hours to the team to complete.
The river is booming with luscious plantation and big parts of it are under shade due to the gorge walls. The biggest of the waterfalls we visited (near Figaleia) is 50mt tall.
Many practice their canyoneering skills here too.
Neda and Gates of Hades?
The river was named after a nymph called Neda. Near this place you can also visit the Temple of Epicure Apollo Vassae.
Neda was a water deity, a nymph, which was entrusted to take care of Zeus, by Rhea in order to save him from being devoured by Cronus.
Note: Neda is a female name in Greek. The river of Neda is one of the two rivers of Greece with a female name. The other one is the river of Arapitsa near Naoussa (North Greece). Most rivers in Greece come with a male name.
Gorge Walking: Neda River and Neda Waterfalls
We got up early to meet the group from Active Sundays that would take us there. It would be a single day trip and as such we prefer not to drive ourselves back and forth. Especially when difficult hiking/trekking takes place.
Our hiking took place in July and the river was still with lots of water. It was tough to cross at some points and you had to swim.
Current was strong at many points (and a good photo opportunity).
We had some really great guides and the whole adventure was amazingly funny.
There were points who seemed like impossible to cross but the only thing we had to do was to simply let go.
We have done canyoneering a few times in the past, so we had experiences from controlled sliding.
There were many tricky points that seemed easy, but the moment you tried to cross vertically you were feeling the strong current despite the low depth of waters.
Good shoes (and balance) kept us from falling flat down and get carried away from the river.
Is Neda river a simple gorge walking thing? Not at all.
You need to have some experience with such treks and proper gear.
And after all that spectacular route… the 50mt high waterfall.
Necessary Gear for Neda Waterfalls Safety
Gorge walking is not canyoneering, but that doesn’t mean you can just go with your sports shoes or sandals.
Here is the gear we had with us. No ropes were needed since the first 7km didn’t involving crossing points where climbing (up or down) was necessary.
Avoid cotton in such trips, at all costs. It soaks and stays like that “forever”.
Many think that going naked from the waist up, is fine in summer in a gorge/canyon. They think they will enjoy the warm sun on their skin, getting cool from the river waters.
That is far from truth.
You need a good technical blouse (not necessarily with long sleeves) to protect you from sun, possible insects and water. Depending on the water temperature you may need to wear half or full body wet-suits suitable for canyoning.
In our case a short sleeves blouse was fine. However, water was cold and not warm. Not freezing cold but around 12-14 Celsius. In a roaring river, under shade that will get colder.
Yes, your blouse it will get wet almost immediately but it will keep you warmer than wearing nothing.
Any lightweight technical running or hiking blouse will do. Prefer one with UV protection.
Pants & Swimsuits
We hiked with our swim shorts. Some, were wearing hiking shorts. We tend to avoid such as no matter how light they are, they still remain heavier than a swim short.
Shoes & Socks
This is one of the major must-have ingredients for safety, along with a helmet. You must not wear -at all costs- any kind of typical hiking/trekking shows/boots. You need either the special canyoning shoes or the amphibious water shoes that allow water to pass through.
These were our shoes (Salomon).
Any other sport shoe will put you in high risk for injuries to heavy traumas.
Talking about water shoes, we don’t mean beach shoes. Beach shoes may be cheap but they will get damaged in the 1st hour of your river walking as you walk inside the water and step on rocks.
You need good water shoes, with good gripping. They are like trekking shoes but allow water to get through (means: less resistance to running river water) and grip fine on rocks.
Sports shoes will not be steady and they may dissolve after 4-5 hours in water, leaving you without shoes in a gorge. You don’t want that.
Do not wear your water shoes without socks. After X hours in water, your feet will get soft from all that As they get softer, any seams will scratch your feet and create wounds that will get bigger by getting soaked in water.
A small pebble falling from high altitude can injure you in a really bad way or even kill you. A special helmet can prevent this as it protects your head.
Even if such rock lands on the rest of your body, you need to protect your head getting beyond… repair.
This range of helmets will do the job.
Do not use a regular backpack or plastic bags to keep your wallet, keys, towel or/and snacks dry. You need a special dry bag made from durable PVC that is for that reason.
Such bags fold on top and secure accordingly. They allow no water at all to come through. We got a 10lt one for 15 euros from Oztrail and it was great. They come to different capacities.
Such bags become floating devices too, as they can trap air inside them when you fold them.
This is handy when you need to swim at different points.
Smartphones won’t do the job, unless you carry them in a real waterproof pouch that is so transparent to allow taking photos.
We prefer to use a small waterproof camera (Panasonic Lumix) and have control on the outcome.
We left our smartphones in the car. There was no signal in the gorge anyway and team captains had high quality communication radios to coordinate the team.
Make sure you have everything strapped on you as you will need your hands for many things. In case of emergency you need to be able to simply let your camera go & not lose it.
No matter the shade and gorge plantation, sun will be hot in summer time. Apply sun cream to all non-covered areas. In case you make a short break for snacks and get dry, simply apply again.
Overall feelings from Neda Waterfalls
Top list for travelers in Greece is to also visit Nemouta Waterfalls and Panta Vrehei canyon & waterfalls. Neda has a completely different beauty when compared to the above. Not better or worst, just different, with completely different “energy”.
Who knows? Next time we may see Hades chasing up Persephone, running wild outside the Gates!