The peak at 1,628 metres, Mount Ainos is not only the highest mountain in Kefalonia but the highest mountain in the Ionian Islands. A number of lesser peaks make up the central mountain range that forms a spine-like ridge that stretches across the middle of the island.
There are many popular traditions associated with the highest mountain on Kefalonia. The best known is the legend of the dragon of Mount Ainos called “Loukisas”, which was believed by locals to live amongst the enormous grey rocks of the mountain. A depression in a huge rock was said to have been the imprint of its head, made as it lay there in wait for its victims.
In 1962 Mount Ainos was declared a National Park by the Greek government. The forested area of the park now covers an area of 2,826 hectares. The unique Cephalonia pine tree (Abies cephalonica), covers the greatest park of the Mount Ainos national park. Recognisable by its straight trunk, its rich pyramid-shaped foliage and its characteristic pine needles, the species is reputed to have originally only existed on Kefalonia due to the protected and isolated nature of the island.
On Mount Roudi, by contrast, there are a large number of deciduous and broad-leafed trees and shrubs, in addition to the Cephalonia pine. On the slopes of the national park, especially on Mount Roudi, you can see cork oak, arbutus, carob, lentisk and many shrubs and herbs such as heather, thyme, amaranth and many others.
The forest’s natural flora also includes many species of wild flowers and mushrooms, and its fauna consists of various species of reptiles, bird such as the woodpeckers, blackbirds and hawks, as well as mammals. These include the wild horses of Ainos, a species unfortunately threatened with extinction. They belong to the genus of the Pindos horse and are small, strong and have great powers of endurance. They live in the area of the Zoodochos Pygi monastery, which is to the south-east of Mount Ainos, near to the only source of water on the mountain.