The fire coming from the vents of the rocky Mount Chimaera is one of the highlights of a visit to Olympos.
I prefer seeing it actually during the daytime but it seems that the tour usually happens at night after dinner. I booked the tour from Orange Pension where I was staying at TL25 which is basically a pick-up and drop-off. We are four and I was the third one picked up along the way. We left at around 9:00pm and reached the base of the mountain before 10pm.
Reaching the burning vents is not as easy as I thought it would be, all the while I thought it would just be sort of a stroll in the park. Not! There was an ascend from the base where we were dropped off, I even almost got lost along the way as I was left behind catching my breath. I'm not that old my lungs are HA HA. The driver of our van handed each of us a small torch (pen size) to light our path as the way up is dark, too many uneven steep stairs and some of them are narrow and grated rocks. There was no guide, the driver waited for us at the base near an ancient temple.
The good thing is, we’re not the only group hiking up the mountain in the dark, there are others, so if you get lost – I did – you can wait for some other groups to walk along with, unless you’re the last one.
We spent about 2 - 3 hours including the hike up and back down, for what? Just to see the fire-breathing vents up there on the rock mountain! I almost sprained my ankle catching with the group.
When we reached the top, we heard people chanting with lyrics that I can’t understand. For most of us, we just sat there and had some wine over the flames. There are more than a dozen of vents (or holes) with fires ranging from the size of a flicker to a bonfire.
That is the reason why the tour happens at night, it’s more dramatic and somewhat mystical.
Ancient sources – one of them is Homer’s Iliad - believed the place to be the origin of the myth of Chimera, a fire-breathing monster that is in the transfiguration of lion, goat, and snake.
Whatever Greek Mythology it entails, the fire is produced by methane or a combination of other gases that keeps the flames burning. The phenomenon is that, it has been burning for thousands of years. Quite interesting.