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Day 19: Vouliagmeni Lake

Today, I swam in the lake at Vouliagmeni. It is a huge lake set against a cliff face. It is freshwater although only about 20 metres from the coastline and 50cm above sea level.

Since the lake is privately owned, wooden decking and deckchairs stretch around most of it. A bar and buffet are available to guests. A lifeguard surveys the area from his kayak. Children’s shouts echo slightly off the cave wall. The far side of the lake is borders the cliff wall and, at multiple points, it recedes back into layered caves. These are, unfortunately, cordened off for safety reasons by brightly coloured buoys. Although this detracts somewhat from the overall appeal of the lake, the rest of its natural features more than mitigate this.

The water is warm, 27 degrees celcius in fact. Where cold water from a tap might be 20, this is pretty warm. It is naturally heated by springs which makes it the perfect habitat for Garra fish. Otherwise known as doctor fish and commonly available in little tanks for spa treatments, they nibble the dead skin off your feet. Many websites boast about the extraordinary healing powers of such fish although they are currently banned in several US states for sanitary reasons. Regardless, it is a strange yet pleasant experience. The water is also incredibly clear (although full of algae) meaning that it is possible to watch the fish as they jostle for position around your legs.

Swimming over to the caves, I was surprised to see pigeons nesting in holes. It was magical to watch swifts swooping out over the water to catch insects and dragonflies droning, helicopter-like, in to perch on clumps of lake weed.

There is also a trail along the cliff top above with a spectacular view of the sea and nearby beaches. Along here, there is a variety of wildlife including crickets and plants that reminded me bizarrely of metal scourers.

Overall, I think it provides a welcome change to the salty beaches nearby, although a real shame that we could not access any of the caves.

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