This post you will find everything you need to organise a climbing trip on Kalymnos. Read on to find out a little bit about the history and geography of Kalymnos, how to get to the climbing areas, Masouri, where you can stay and enjoy some specialties. Importantly, I discuss information about climbing, the best times to visit, the range and variety of climbing available and a few words about safety.
A few words about the island
If you climb a little and you have done some climbing trips, it is very likely that you have heard of Kalymnos. This magnificent island of the Dodecanese in the Aegean Sea has many assets for both novice and experienced climbers. Kalymnos has the particularity of being very rocky, with limestone cliffs. The island is very dry for most of the year (May to November) and has little vegetation.
The island’s reputation and economic activity developed rapidly from the middle of the 19th century onward thanks to sponge fishing. These were almost completely eradicated by an epidemic of rare violence in 1986. The island lives economically from a small seaside tourism (2 months in the year) and since now about fifteen years of tourism related to climbing (6 to 7 months per year).
If the archaeological aspect is not very interesting (Rhodes is not far away for that!), Greek culture and the friendliness of its inhabitants are omnipresent. The culinary aspects make it possible to discover a beautiful facet of it!
Climbing trip logistics
Kalymnos is organized to welcome climbers from April to November. The majority of the island’s equipped cliffs are concentrated is in the western part of the island between Masouri and Arginonta.
It is along the main street of Masouri that you will find all the logistical aspects for your stay: accommodation, restaurants, grocery stores, bars, scooter or car rental and 7 climbing shops!
THE WAY TO MASOURI
There’s an airport on Kalymnos but I wouldn’t recommend it, flights can be cancelled or delayed due to wind and prices are generally not very attractive. A better option is to fly to Kos, (Hipocratos international airport). Travel from Kos airport to Mastichiari, you can take a taxi (15/18 €) or the bus (2.5 €) in 10/20 minutes. It is a small village from where ferries (7 €) leave for Kalymnos, the journey takes 30 to 45 minutes and you arrive in Pothia, the main city/port of Kalymnos, situated on the eastern side of the island. On arrival there will be taxis at the port available to take you to Masouri (15/18 € and approximately 15 minutes).
If you decide to rent a car for your stay, it could be smart to rent it in Pothia.
It’s also possible to arrive on Kalymnos by boat from Athens, it takes 12 hours and approximately 50 € per person.
The cliffs are situated on the western side of the island. The most convenient place to stay is Masouri and adjoining villages, Myrties and Armeos. Accommodation consists mainly of studios for 2 or 3 people with prices starting at around 20€. It is possible to rent a house and there are also some hotels.It’s easy to access many cliffs on foot from Masouri, Armeos or Myrties. However renting a scooter will offer you the freedom to visit a number of other crags and explore the island.
The tap water
You will notice quickly, the tap water is salty! Although unpleasant it won’t kill you. It’s fine for brushing your teeth and cooking pasta, you don’t need to add salt. You would probably forget it when you will make your first tea or coffee and it will be the last time as well.
The filter stations
For drinking water, you can buy bottles, or do as the locals do and fill your bottle (for free) at one of the two filter stations. The stations are roadside look like a giant white water dispenser (the size of a small truck), one is located in Masouri in front of the Ambiance bar and the other is in Myrties.
There are also two natural fountains in Masouri. If you have difficulty locating the stations or the fountains, ask a local and they will happily point you in the right direction. If you stay for a long period it might be interesting to buy a small tank of 10-15 litres.
DINNING AND GROCERIES
Restaurants and local dishes
There is no shortage of excellent food in Kalymnos, there are many restaurants conveniently located in Masouri, but a good tip is to venture little bit further to Armeos or Myrties (less than a kilometer) where you can discover a number of very good restaurants. In general you will find a wide variety of dishes and flavours. Like many Greek Islands, fish is in the spotlight, for fresh fish and an authentically Greek experience visit La Kouzina by the Sea in Myrties and take up an order of flaming Saganaki (fried cheese in Greek alcohol).
Kalymnos has a number of local specialities, Mououri is a traditional Kalymnian dish made from goat and typically eaten at Easter. You can find Mououri year round at Tsopanakos restaurant, in Armeos. At Tsopanakos you will also find excellent goats cheese all produced from their own goats. Mermizeli is another must try speciality – it is a typical Kalymnian salad, generally copious and full of flavour. You are in Greece so don’t forget to try mousaka, tzaziki, vine leaves (dolmades), spinach pie and briam (baked vegetables) which is a good vegetarian or vegan option. Try La Kambouza for fantastic Pizza and Tiramisu if you fancy something a little different – owned and run by an italian, so you know it’s good.
Coffee and breakfast
Coffee is life, great coffee and good vibes can be found at Wooden ROOTS and Monster Café. For a sit down breakfast visit Ethereal or Sofrano, these and many shops will also offer takeaway spinach and cheese pies for a cheap breakfast on the go. Fany Market (in Armeos next to Monster Café) offers a range of delicious homemade bread and spinach pies/desserts.
If you are a wine lover, the Greeks produce very good wine. I’m not talking about the “homemade” wine in the pitcher! They have some terrific grape varieties such as Malagousia or Assyrtiko (white wine), Agiorgitiko or Xinomavro (red wine) which deserve to be discovered. Stop by Azul for a classy but relaxed evening of wine, cocktails and food. The small establishment boasts a beautiful setup and welcoming staff.
Preparing your own meals is an option, most studios provide basic cooking utensils. There are several grocery stores along Masouri Street with reasonable prices. There is a larger supermarket, AB Market a few kilometers outside Masouri (in Elies) which is well stocked.
If you forget or lose equipment, there are plenty of climbing shops, 7 to be accura