Samaria Gorge, Crete Island
I walked the Samaria Gorge a little over 15 years ago. It is one of the most spectacular walks I have ever done. Ever changing wonderful and glorious vistas; cool mountain streams, from which you could fill up your water vessel and drink the purest and most thirst quenching mineral water there is. A moderately challenging walk but if you are ever in Crete and have the time, it is a must. When you finally reach its termination, you can resolve any aches pains or heat by a relaxing dip in the enticing Libyan Sea. It inspired me to write a piece of poetry, which is dear to my heart and I have to this day.
The Samaria Gorge contains a 16km walk. It'll take about 5-6 hours to complete (including rest time). You only have to take 1 bottle of water with you, because there are lots of fresh water points with water directly from the mountain.
Be sure to take your time, eat and drink enough. It's a rough trip, but the scenery is beautiful, so it's definately worth it.
The Somaria Gorge is the most famous hike in Crete, and for good reason. Get to the top of the mountain on a bus, wear adequate footwear for the rocky terrain, and begin. The hike isn't really strenuous, its all downhill, but the sheer duration and length makes it wearing after awhile. A little over halfway through you'll hit the "Iron Gates" where the rocky walls close to within 3meters of each other-what a site! This offers truly spectacular views and a rewarding dip in the Libyan Sea at the very end of the hike in the small town of Agia Roumeli. From there you can grab some fresh squeezed orange juice, food, and a ferry ride back to Chania.
The Samaria Gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1250m and taking you all the way down to the shores of the Libyan sea in Agia Roumeli. The walk through the National Park of Samaria is 13 km (but you will have to walk the extra 3 km to Agia Roumeli from the exit of the National Park)..
The park is supervised by the Department of Forestry and the gorge is generally open only from the beginning of May to the end of October. In winter, high water makes the gorge dangerous and impassable. It will also be closed on rainy days (too dangerous because of rock falls)
The problem with Samaria is the crowds. It has become one of the" musts" if you go to Crete and there are up to 3000 visitors a day on very busy days. If you have the bad luck to pick one of those days, the atmosphere will be really spoilt. Starting at dawn (before the tourist coaches arrive) will give you a bit of a head start.
It is possible to find good (and cheap) accommodation in Omalos. The first tourist buses arrive at around 7.30 am and from then on it is an uninterrupted stream of buses until about 11.00 am.
You can also start walking after 12.00, there won't be many people but you will most probably need to spend the night in Agia Roumeli because the last boat out will have left when you get there.
As far as the times of the year are concerned, the best time is in the spring: the weather is still cool and the vegetation is at its best. The worst time is in the middle of the summer during a heat wave.
If you are a real adventurer, try spending the night in Agia Roumeli and walk back up the gorge the following morning. Just be sure you have transportation or lodging waiting for you at the top because public transportation to Chania is hit or miss.
Things to bring: WATER, SUNSCREEN, TRAIL MIX, Hiking Boots, Blister Kit.
If you are bored of baking under sunrays or want to test your strength than I strongly recommend you to give one day to Samaria gorge. Of corse it's not so easy to wake up at 04:00a.m, especially when you are on holidays. But belive me it's worth. Picturesque views, great mood and new company is quaranted. Before going there be sure that you have appropriate shoes, clothes, enough food and water, and the main thing - leave all your health problems at home - 16km in mountains is not a joke ;)
Plan your visit in the Samaria Gorge before entering the National Park. I started very early in the morning. I took the first bus from Chania going to the Samaria National Park. The bus ride lasts about 90 minutes and the higher the bus goes the frisher the air is. The landscapes are very dramatic and beautiful in the morning sun.
You have to pay 5 Euros entrance fee. The path is very good sighned and it is impossible to get lost. The path is very stony and sometimes hard but very safe. The whole way is mostly shadowed. Is not so very hot if you start early. If you enjoy twalking and hike slowly shooting a lot of pictures you need 4 or 5 hours to reach the exit in Agia Roumeli. The gorge is 18 km long. Take good shoes.
The ferry to Chora Sfakion leaves at 5.45 p.m. You can have enough time to take dinner or to swim in clear dark blue waters.
At first it may sound intimidating to walk such a distance in an isolated area where there is no other way out but to walk. But there is plenty of time to complete it and the scenery is really worth the while. Plus there is an extra bonus of good feeling when you complete it and go for a refreshing swim in a Libyan Sea. Next day you’ll feet or even the whole body will ache but you’ll still feel that it was worth it.
You can find few pointers on the web, about what to bring etc
You’ll also get pointers from your guide. If you live in Hania then it’s worth going on your own as you’ll save much on the bus fare and there is no need for guide anyway.
On your trip down Samaria Gorge pay special attention to those fantastic pieces of unique flora. Unfortunately I was unable to take as many picture as I wished.
Some of the flowers, bushes and trees can be seen only in Samaria Gorge.
It's a real adventure travel :)
The Gorge of Samaria is the largest one of its kind in Europe. The walk takes approximately 7 hours (including short stops) and is quite extensive. You just have to take good trekking shoes as there is no other way out than on your own feet. Please consider leaving kids at home.
You will spend 7 hours viewing incredibly beautiful nature of Samaria and at the end you'll take a short trip by vessel to the nearest city.
43 km from the city of Chania, this is the longest gorge in Europe, measuring some 18 kilometers and well-known for its awesome beauty.
At some points the passage is just 3 meters wide and at times the steep sides rise to a height of 600 meters. The gorge is cut by a stream which flows between the highest peak of the White Mountains and the mountain of Volikas.
Hiking down the gorge is permitted from May to the end of October, depending on the weather. At the entrance to the gorge, at Xiloskalo there is a tourist pavilion with a view of majestic mountain of Gigolos (alt. 2,083 m.). On leaving the gorge, one encounters the village of Agia Roumeli, where one can take a launch to Chora Sfakion and catch a bus back to Chania.
Samaria Gorge is one of the National Parks of Greece and the only one in Crete. It starts at an altitude of 1227 m. at Xyloskalo near the village of Omalos (70 Km. from Chania) and ends after an 18 km walk to the beach at the village of Agia Roumeli on the south coast of Crete.
The best way to reach Omalos is by public bus, or join an organised group. You can also reach Omalos by private car, but that means that once you reach the beach at Agia Roumeli, you have to climb back to the top to pick up the car (... not recommended).
The Gorge is open to visitors from May to October. Walking through the gorge is an experience that a visitor should enjoy. People have been known to walk through it in 3-4 hours but a more sedate pace would allow the visitor time to enjoy it more.
Usually people start their walk at 7-8 in the morning and come out to the beach at about 6 in the afternoon. Staying overnight in the gorge is not permitted.
Omalos is one of the last shelters of the mountain goat of Crete (kri-kri). The flora is extensive ranging from high cypress trees to flowers and herbs.The river flows to small lakes and waterfalls.
Halfway through the park lies the village of Samaria that was abandoned when the Gorge became a Park.
The authorities have restored the buildings, which are now uninhabitted, and a shady place with benches and tables is provided for the visitors' rest.
Samaria gorge is considered one of the most attractive natural reserves in Europe. It takes you around 5 to 6 hours walking the gorge from the top of the mountain to the sea. After that you have to take the boat from There (Agia roumelli) to either souya or Chora sfakion. In some places you can still see the wild protected goat of Crete (Kri Kri).
The wild goat of Crete may be the goat from which domestic goats were derived. The goat is now threatened, and one of its biggest problems is that it crossbreeds with domestic goats and causes the population to become impure. The gorge is very well maneged to receive tourists willing walking all the way down from Omalos mountain.
This is the trekking highway of Crete in summer. The gorge is, with 18km, the longest in Europe and to hike through is relatively easy. Just don't forget to take lots of water and sun protection. The hike starts in the village Omalos (there are buses from Chania) and ends in Agia Rumeli after 4-5hrs. From there you have ferries leaving for Paleochora or Hora Sfakion.
Admission to the National Park is 5 Euro
If you like to walk in the nice nature, go to Samaria. Start on norhern part is near Omalos village and the end is in Agia Roumeli. The main problem is where to leave car and how to come to it again. I went only to samaria village (about 6km) from northern side and then return back what is quite exausted because you have to return back to the hill (about 800m).
The Samaria Gorge hike starts right outside of the town of Omalos. Again getting here as early as possible will allow for a more peaceful hike. After the 16 kilometer hike, you emerge at the town of Agia Roumeli. From here, there are no bus connections. You have to buy a ticket for a ferry ride to Hora Sfakion, from which there are bus connections to all parts of the island.
If you are not staying in Omalos for the start of your hike, you can purchase your bus ticket to Omalos and your return ticket from Hora Sfakion at the same time. I highly recommend you do this, as the line at the end of the hike is invariably long. Plus, you have just hiked the longest gorge in Europe, who wants to stand in a really long line?
You can only buy your ferry tickets from Agia Roumeli to Hora Sfakion in Agia Roumeli, and they are 4.40 Euro. There are only 3-4 boats per day, so you might have to wait a little while.
The price of entrance into the park is 3 Euro and free for students.
It is important to call the Ranger Service after a rain, to check if the park is open for the hike.
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