The forest of Pholoe is of crucial importance for the forestal resources of Elia and of Greece, from a more general point of view. This wonderful self-sown forest of huge oaks and beeches covers an area of 40,000m2; 5.000.000 trees have been counted. Its name is connected with Centaur Pholos, who turns up in one of the labors of Hercules. Centaur Pholos was proud, as all Centaurs were, and was a friend of god Pan, who was the first in ancient times to discover the beauty of the forest and the joys of a life which respects the laws of nature. On his way to Mount Erymanthos, in order to rid the area of the disastrous Erymanthean boar, Hercules was put up by Centaur Pholos and was offered delicious meat and excellent wine, a gift of Dionysus, the god of wine and of easy life. The aroma of the wine was so strong, that Centaurs living nearby got upset and went at the two men with rocks and uprooted trees. Hercules rose from the table to face them and managed to wipe out some of the Centaurs who raved against him. Unfortunately, he wounded by mistake Centaur Pholos with his arrows. Hercules felt very sad, but he found the courage to bury Pholos and then set out for Mount Erymanthos, to track down and kill the Erymanthean boar his fourth labor.
In the villages near the forest of Pholoe, such as old Persaina, Pholoe, Coumani, visitors can dine in very good tavernas, enjoying delicious meat from home-grown animals, as well as the aromatic wines of the area. In the village Neraida, ecotourism already pays, because natives have taken initiatives in accommodating and feeding the tourists with special care.
There is something unusual about the forest of Pholoe: The Forest Inspection has permitted the limited grazing of sheep all the year round. So, apart from the chirps of birds, one can hear the ringing of the big bells hanging from the necks of the sheep, and the cheerful barks of the sheepdogs, which, living in such a peaceful environment, are very friendly to visitors.
In the wonderful forest of Pholoe, the cycle of the seasons is clearly perceptible. The best moment is when the snowflakes fall down the bare tree trunks on to the earth and cover it all over in total silence (this happens especially in February and March).
Important note: The forest is vast and a flat green prevails there are no signs to help you come out of it, so you had better ask natives to make a rough sketch to you, marking some basic points of entrance and exit, to help you find your way in any case.