The Donkey House


The Donkey House offers high-quality accommodation for holiday rentals in the Greek village of Pragmatefti (Leonidio)

Bookings are being taken for Autumn 2019 onwards.

For bookings and other enquiries: email Ruth and Carl


This web page includes:

 

 

Photo above: View from the roof-top terrace of The Donkey House with olive groves on the nearby hillsides and the  Myrtoon Sea  in the distance.

The village of Pragmatefti: This beautiful traditional Greek village lies close to the east coast of the Peloponnese where the foothills of the Parnon mountain range meet the sea. It is the first village to the north of Leonidio and stands one kilometre above the main coastal road between Athens and Leonidio. Standing on a rocky spur 250m above sea level, running down from a craggy hillside to the west, it provides superb views eastwards across the Myrtoon Sea towards the Argolis peninsula and the islands of Hydra and Spetses. Not surprisingly, Pragmatefti is a ‘protected’ village.
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Photo above: Pragmatefti village.

The Donkey House itself: Renovated by a reputed local builder in 2019, The Donkey House is suitable for two people (there are two single beds). It is a traditional Greek building with thick stone walls and a part-pitched, part-flat roof. The windows and door are typically small to protect the interior from extremes of temperature. In addition, there is air-con for hotter periods in summer (and a heater for mid-winter).

 

Inside, the Donkey House is a two-roomed L-shaped studio. The floor is stone-flagged in the traditional manner. In the main room are two single beds, an armchair, a small table and two chairs plus a modern kitchen fitted with a marble worksurface, a Bosch electric hob and built-in oven plus an integrated Liebherr refrigerator. A microwave is available.

 

 

 

 

The other half of the L-shape is taken up by a fully-fitted bathroom and walk-in shower. The washing machine is also to be found in the bathroom. A hot-water boiler heats up in a matter of minutes.

 

The accommodation also benefits from an adjacent terrace which provides stunning views down towards the sea and across to the nearby mountains. Here there is a garden table and two chairs. There is also access to a rooftop terrace.

 

Regrettably, we do not allow pets in The Donkey House.

 

 

Photo adjacent: Shower room.

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Photo above: The Donkey House terrace

Getting to Pragmatefti: Many international airports offer direct flights to Athens International airport. From there it is a three and a quarter hour drive to Pragmatefti. First, this journey takes the motorway towards Corinth; then starts a scenic corniche-style road down the east coast of the Peloponnese peninsula.

A coach runs from Athens to Leonidio three times a day (only twice on Sundays) and stops by request at the turn-off to Pragmatefti). A car or motorbike, however, adds immeasurably to a stopover in the Leonidio area.

Some airports fly to Kalamata, usually late Spring to early Autumn. From Kalamata, a quiet motorway leads to Tripoli, then ‘ordinary’ roads eastwards to Astros, so joining the east coast route. This takes just over two hours.
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Parking in the village: Cars can be driven up the main street to a small car park (just before the church in the middle of the village). The Donkey House stands on the small street opposite the church. Camper-vans and other large vehicles can be left in the accommodating and easily-reached car park at the edge of the village; from here, it is a 300m walk to the church.
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Local facilities: In the village of Pragmatefti there is a small shop with some basics. The closest tavernas are at Sampatiki (4 minutes drive) and Livadi (5 minutes drive). The ‘capital’ of this region is Leonidio, a vibrant small town (12 minutes drive) with two supermarkets, several fuel stations, two cash machines/ATMs, a hospital, pharmacies, and a variety of other shops, tavernas and restaurants.
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Activities in the vicinity: Beaches are of the expected Aegean high standard (i.e very clean, usually with small white pebbles, and with friendly beach bars and/or tavernas) and within 5 to 20 minutes drive are the beaches of Tyros, Livadi, Sampatiki Harbour, Lakkos, Plaka, Plaka Harbour and Poulithra. Water sports equipment is available in high summer at some of the beaches.

 

Photo above: The beach at Plaka harbour.

The Donkey House is very convenient for sport climbing in the Leonidio area (the nearest ‘sector’, Sabaton, is 5 minutes drive away). Sport climbing is fast developing in this area  and the local guidebook is already in its second edition. Leonidio is now one of Europe’s top areas for sport climbing from Autumn, through Winter, and into Spring. Some sectors, such as Jupiter, Mars, Panorama, Elona, Nifada and Sabaton are ‘usable’ even in the height of summer. In total, around Leonidio and nearby Kyparissi there are more than 1700 equipped routes spread around 70 different sectors. Guided climbing can be booked with the very experienced, local-based (and multi-lingual) climbing guide, Simon Montmory. Details of climbing in the area are covered by Greece Sport Climbing: the Best of (Aris Theodoropoulos, 2017 edition) and Leonidio & Kyparissi Climbing Guidebook (Panjika Cooperative, 2018 Second Edition). These are available at the Climb3Red shop on the main street in Leonidio and at the Panjika climbers’ cafe.

 

Photo above: Dave Cross on Bert f7c at Elona. Photo by Rhian Cross.

The area also offers good walking. At one end of the spectrum, there is superb mountain scenery with hiking up to almost 2000 metres above sea level on Mount Parnon. Alternatively, interesting ancient paved donkey trails (kalderimi) lead up the valley sides. One of these pleasing kalderimia actually leads up on the escarpment from the upper end of Pragmatefti village itself. At a gentler scale, country lanes wind across the flat farmlands between Leonidio and the sea. A useful map for getting an overview of the area at a good scale is the Parnonas/Mount Parnon 1:50 500 scale map from Anavasi which shows the topography with a 20m contour interval as well as most of the obvious paths. This map is available locally. Guided walks at all difficulties are run by the local company, Greece On Foot. Wendy Copage and her team organise tailor-made shorter easier walks to local beauty spots and other sites of interest. As Wendy is well-known for her knowledge of the ancient trails, she also runs a five-day super tour between the mountains and the sea, staying overnight in remote shepherd’s cottages and monasteries. She also has an extensive knowledge of the wildlife of the Peloponnese.

 

Photo above: On one of the Greece On Foot hikes. Ruth is pointing at Pragmatefti.

As for wildlife, the area around Pragmatefti reveals some interesting creatures. Locally, there is the expected selection of Greek lizards, geckoes and other smaller creatures whilst, in the woodlands, foxes and the weasel-like beech martens are common. Tortoises are regularly encountered and you may have to encourage them to cross the road a little more quickly! Actually level with, and flying only a few hundred metres from The Donkey House terrace, you will see regularly an elegant short-toed eagle. A pair of ravens are locals too. Possibly the most exciting of the local wildlife are the loggerhead turtle and the very rare and endangered Mediterranean monk seal: we have been lucky enough to see both of these off the rugged coastline south of Leonidio.
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Photo above: Tortoise on the plateau above Pragmatefti village.

Other attractions, both local and further afield:  A short drive inland up the Dafnon Gorge leads to the stunning location of the monastery at Elona. You may hear ethereal ecclesiastical singing in the mornings. Local honey and other specialities can be bought here. In hot weather, the winding road continues to bring you to the shady mountain village of Kosmas where there is running water from fonts and restaurants sheltered by giant plane trees. Elsewhere in the region there is an elusive village where amazing waterfalls gush all year…

 

Photo above: The monastery at Elona.

On longer days out, it is possible to visit some world-famous archeological sites (such as the Bronze Age acropolis of Mycenea/Mykines and amphitheatre at Epidavros/Epidauros), castles (such as at Argos) and attractive harbours and cafes (such as at Napflion). It is also possible to pass over the wild hills southwards to visit other ‘travelogue’ sites, including the island village of Monemvasia.
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Photo above: The eponymous donkey/Ο επώνυμος γάιδαρος

Enjoy your stay in this beautiful part of Greece.

For more details, e-mail Ruth and Carl. See also our Facebook page.
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