No visit, no vacation to Crete is complete without crossing the Samaria Gorge.
Samaria Gorge was acknowledged in 2010 as one of the wildest, most virgin and unique natural parks in the world and was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) of UNESCO.
Samaria Gorge Tour Overview
Our adventure starts very early in the morning since the gorge is situated on the western side of the island.
Our first stop is in the vicinity of Rethimnon. We have the chance to get our breakfast before moving on to Omalos Plateau. The walk starts from Xiloskalo. At the entrance of the gorge we enter this vast canyon of 18 klm that is considered to be the longest in Europe. Canyon width varies from 2 to 40 meters and a depth of 250-600 meters. We usually need 6-7 hours to cross the rocky gorge of Samaria down to the shore.
The path follows the route of Taras, a river with gurgling lucid water. It gave its name to the ancient town which was located at the end of the gorge. On the way we can get a glimpse of the caves that formed a natural shelter for the Cretans. In war times and now they are the natural habitat of the well-known wild goats, or kri-kri as they are also called. Halfway we come across the village of Santa Maria, which was abandoned by its last inhabitants in 1962.
The amazingly wild and unspoiled scenery of Samaria, as well as the vegetation that we come in view of during hiking, is unequalled in relation to those in other places on Crete.
Highlights of Samaria Gorge hiking
Extraordinary rock formations,
Indigenous rare plants, flower and bird species,
Rough downward ground,
Impressive and primitive view,
Exquisite landscape that has been under no human intervention,
Unique sensation of awe and infinite wonder for the untouched grandeur will always be engraved on our memory.
Three kilometers prior to our exiting this majestic gorge, we reach the Iron Gates (Sideroportes), the narrowest spot of the route, just a few meters wide, but 300 meters high – an amazing contradiction that can cause nothing but awe.
A bit later we arrive in the small fishing village of Agia Roumeli, where we have quite a long time to lunch and get a refreshing swim in the deep blue, crystal clear waters of the Libyan Sea, before boarding the ship that leads us back along the coast to the village of Sfakia, where we catch the bus for the return trip.
On the way back we have the chance to admire Imbros Gorge, as well as the villages of Askifou and Vrisses.
An excursion for those who feel adventurous and are pretty fit. A tip for the ones who join in: good hiking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, an extra pair of socks, swimsuit and a light jacket for the evening hours are essential.