Mountains, fertile valleys and endangered species… it’s all on Sifnos
The Sifnos countryside and terrain can only be described as mountainous. The highest peak of the island is Profitias Elias which reaches a height of 680 meters or 2230 feet. It is flanked to the North by Agios Simeon range and to the south by the Platia Rachi.
Over the years the hills and mountainsides of Sifnos have been terraced with hundreds of miles of dry stoned walls in an effort to create small flat strips of countryside in order to raise fruit and vegetables. One crop that is grown in significant amounts, particularly on the valley floors leading down to Kamares and Platy Yialos, is Olives, and the Olive Oil produced on Sifnos is generally regarded as being amongst the best in all Greece.
During prehistoric times, Sifnos was covered with forests and was rich in fauna. The forests are no more, they were systematically burned by early inhabitants to create pastures and later by the potters for firing kilns. Today the landscape on first impressions appears quite baron, but on closer inspection, the visitor soon realises that the opposite is true. Unlike some of the more popular islands of the Cyclades, Sifnos is not an island with a desolate parched brown landscape, with the exception perhaps of July and August, the countryside is very green with oleanders and cypresses amongst the many bushes to be found. For those people lucky enough to visit Sifnos in the Spring they will surly be amazed by the sea of colours from the wild flowers including Poppies, varieties of Daisies and many others to be found at every turn, Some of which are pictured here.
Sifnos does have some excellent beaches but most of the coastline does tend to be rocky. Around the more sandy areas you will be able to find marram grasses whilst offshore, if you go snorkelling you will be able to find colonies of the sea plant, Poseidonia Oceanica, a very rare plant found only in certain areas of the Mediterranean and protected under European law.
Sifnos also sees it’s fair share of migrating birds, some of the more colourful are the European Bee Eater and the Oriolus-Oriolus. Not as colourful but equally welcome on the island are the turtle doves, the corys sheerwater and water fowl such as the Redhead and the Hen-swallow. In addition to these Sifnos plays host to some majestic predatory birds, the Peregrine falcon, Eleonoras falcon and the Bonelli eagle.
There is one other resident of Sifnos that some people might not find so welcome, namely the Blunt Nose Viper or to give it it’s full title the Macrovipera Schweizeri. This poisonous snake is a very rare and is on the endangered species list. The viper can only be found on the islands of Sifnos, Kimolos and Milos…. an estimated 90% being found on Milos.
The Blunt Nose Viper is a protected creature and is on the endanger species list. This is just one of the reasons why a large part of the west of Sifnos is a protected area included in the European Unions’ “NATURA 2000” project