One of the pioneers of geotourism in Greece - Georgis Vougioukalakis

  • A pioneer in geotourism

    Georgis Vougioukalakis was one of the first to take an interest in geotourism and to support our activity in this area from the very beginning.

    Geotouristic tours on Santorini

The Greek Geological Office IGME & Georgis Vougioukalakis

Georgis Vougioukalakis looks out over the caldera of Santorini in the early summer of 1997. (c) Tobias Schorr
Georgis Vougioukalakis looks out over the caldera of Santorini in the early summer of 1997. (c) Tobias Schorr

In the spring of 1997 I got a call to the Hotel Saronis in Methana, which I kept open over the winter months. Georgis, a friend I knew from the time the Swiss were doing the geological map of Methana, called.
An accident had happened on Santorini and TUI's tour groups no longer had a tour guide.

My later friend and business partner Tom Pfeiffer led groups there as part of the TUI travel program "Fascination Santorini Volcano".
While bathing on one of the beaches near Oía, he got caught between two rocks and broke his leg.

I should replace him. At the beginning I had doubts because I am not a professional geologist, but "just" a hobby geologist. My interest in geology and my discoveries were known in the geological office in Athens and they trusted me to lead geological, volcanological tours.

The Greek geologist Georgis Vougioukalakis took the time to show me the most interesting places of Santorini in a few days and I soon knew the most important things.
I will never forget the tours with him, especially my first contact with Parthenis & Katerina Gavalá in Plaka Bay and the boat trip to the hermit Sostis on the island of Palia Kameni.
The tours ran more or less successfully until TUI took them off the program at some point. Small groups of 6-12 people don't bring TUI enough profit.

So I went back to Methana and also led my first hiking group on Methana in 1997 - there, too, with a focus on geology, volcanoes and nature.

Georgis Vougioukalakis also knew Methana and in 2003 made the suggestion to the then mayor and later President of the Greek Tourist Office, Christos Pallis, that the Greek geological office could set up a geological museum for the municipality of Methana at little cost.

Unfortunately, Mayor Pallis, whom the media inclined to call him the "visionary of the Saronic Gulf", was not interested.

Why? This question is still open today! It would have been a great opportunity for Methana from 2003! Even the big words at the Methana Conference 2016 did not have a lasting result.

At Nisyros, Georgis Vougioukalakis met open ears and with his team not only set up the volcanological museum in Nikia, but also opened a volcanological observatory in Emporio.

Georgis Vougioukalakis was also the author of two geological guides. One about the volcanic island of Santorini and one about the volcanic island of Nisyros. He also set up geological hiking routes on Nisyros, which are still interesting today.

His friend and colleague, the Greek geologist Michalis Fytikas supported our activities on Methana (volcano weekend 2013 and the volcanological conference 2016).

Both geologists have encouraged us to continue offering geological hiking tours in Greece and to support our target areas with know-how.

Geotourism is not only something for "graduated" geologists, but something for everyone who is intensely interested in geology and has practical experience.

Unfortunately in Greece there are efforts by a clique to secure geotourism for themselves as a monopoly and to allow geotouristic trips only for their own people.
This also means that, for example, the geologically important quarry in Akrotiri is no longer freely accessible and soon only supporters of this clique will have access.

His geotouristic guide about Nisyros

Title of his guide, which is also in English. It shows, how one can imagine the volcano. (c) Giorgis Vougioukalakis 1998
Title of his guide, which is also in English. It shows, how one can imagine the volcano. (c) Giorgis Vougioukalakis 1998
An ancient scene of Polyvotis. (c) Giorgis Vougioukalakis 1998
An ancient scene of Polyvotis. (c) Giorgis Vougioukalakis 1998
The participants in this guide, also Tobias Schorr.
The participants in this guide, also Tobias Schorr.