The legendary gorge of Bolovinena is a small but impressive gorge, hidden well in the dense forests of northern Evia. The gorge was named after a legend born during the Ottoman occupation of Greece. Legend has it that the villagers of Agia Anna had taken refuge in a cave of the gorge in order to avoid the ottoman soldiers. A cat followed them and the Ottomans found them. When asked to surrender and return to the village, they refused and so the Ottomans set a big fire on the entrance of the cave and all the people died. Bolovinena, a woman from the village watching the events from the top of the cliff across the cave, saw the tragic ending of the villagers -among them three of her children- didn’t cope and fell from the cliff into the gorge. It is also known as ”Arapis gorge” or ”Nileas gorge”. It is located at the eastern foot of Xiro mountain at northern Evia, very close to Agia Anna. Its length is about 4.5 km and its narrow route reaches 1.5 km. The main tributary of the river Nileas passes through the gorge. The small river continues from north to south and after several kilometers turns to the east and flows into the bigger river Kyreas. Usually the crossing of the gorge starts at the entrance to the south and goes until the Amelantas bridge to the north. The best time for hiking here is from May to September, when the waters are less, because in many spots and most of the time you have to swim in order to advance. The entrance of the gorge is impressive as at this point the walls are quite narrow and reach 80 meters high. Vertical cliffs, small lakes, rapids, patches of grassland, gardens and a dense riparian forest host a big biodiversity.
The surrounding area is dominated by a big forest of aleppo pine. From the entrance of the gorge and to the south, the river Nileas continues its route with the riparian areas becoming less steep and small clearings full of flowers start to appear. Other plants which form the vegetation of the area are oriental planes, montpellier maples, kermes oaks, evergreen oaks, willows, wild olives, mock privets, hawthorns, italian plums, almond-leaved pears, οriental hornbeams, hop-hornbeams, Judas trees, strawberry trees, turpentine trees, lentiscs, common myrtles, nerium shrubs, ivies, rockroses, weaver’s brooms and blackberries. The most important plants in the area are Onosma euboica, Daphne euboica, Campanula incurva, Thymus teucrioides subsp. candidicus and Ferulago serpentinica. Other interesting species are Bolanthus thymifolius, Crocus laevigatus, Allium cupani subsp. cupani, Helosciadium nodiflorum, Trinia glauca subsp. glauca, Achillea ligustica, Scorzonera crocifolia, Periploca graeca, Alkanna graeca subsp. graeca, Alyssum turkestanicum, Dianthus viscidus, Hypericum olympicum and Cyclamen graecum subsp. graecum. The flora is supplemented by species such as Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum, Sedum amplexicaule subsp. tenuifolium, Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens, Allium ampeloprasum, Allium paniculatum subsp. paniculatum, Bunium ferulaceum, Bupleurum glumaceum, Orlaya daucoides, Arum italicum subsp. italicum, Carduus nutans subsp. leiophyllus, Cerinthe minor, Alyssum chalcidicum, Arabis verna, Leptoplax emarginata, Campanula spatulata subsp. spruneriana, Lonicera implexa, Lathyrus nissolia, Podocytisus caramanicus, Phlomis samia, Linum nodiflorum and Veronica anagallis-aquatica. The orchids of the area include Anacamptis papilionacea, Anacamptis pyramidalis, Himantoglossum robertianum, Limodorum abortivum, Orchis italica, Serapias vomeracea, Spiranthes spiralis, Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys speculum and Ophrys mammosa.
The forest, the river and the gorge attract a lot of different kinds of birds. The predators include short-toed eagles, common buzzards, honey buzzards, sparrowhawks, levant sparrowhawks, kestrels, peregrines and Eleonora’s falcons. Among the night predators stands out the presence of eagle owls, followed by tawny owls, little owls and scops owls. The cliffs are nesting ground for jackdaws. The area is a magnet for little birds like, wrens, dunnocks, robins, nightingales, black redstarts, blackcaps, whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, sardinian warblers, subalpine warblers, willow warblers, wood warblers, goldcrests, spotted flycatchers, pied flycatchers, blue tits, long-tailed tits, goldfinches, greenfinches, siskins, serins and cirl buntings. Other birds are chukar partridges, quails, sandpipers, woodpigeons, turtle doves, nightjars, swifts, alpine swifts, hoopoes, bee-eaters, crested larks, woodlarks, crag martins, swallows, red-rumped swallows, grey wagtails, song thrushes, blue rock thrushes, rock nuthatches, short-toed treecreepers, red-backed shrikes, woodchat shrikes, jays and ravens.
Amphibians include toads, green toads, yellow-bellied toad, tree frogs, balkan frogs and greek frogs. Herpetofauna, as in all of Evia, is extremely rich. Here live Hermann’s tortoises, greek tortoises, marginated tortoises, greek slow worms, glass lizards, mediterranean house geckos, balkan green lizards, common green lizards, Erhard’s wall lizards, common wall lizards, snake-eyed skinks, ocellated skinks, worm snakes, large whip snakes, four-lined snakes, balkan whip snakes, levant montpellier snakes, grass snakes, dice snakes, Dahl’s whip snakes, cat snakes, leopard snakes and nose-horned vipers. It is remarkable that the river hosts, even nowadays, a small number of otters. Other mammals include foxes, beech martens, weasels, badgers, forest dormouses, hedgehogs and various bats. The terrestrial crab of the species Potamon fluviatile is abundant here. It is important that there are two freshwater fishes in the river that are endemic only to Evia, the Evia chab (Squalius sp. Evia) and the Evia barbel (Barbus euboicus).