When you say to your friends that you go on holidays in Crete they will probably tell you that you should go walk the Samaria gorge! And I agree, but here is what you should know before you book your excursion to the gorge.
The entrance of the Samaria gorge is on a hight of 1200 meter, the exit is at sea level and the gorge is 16km long.
It is a mountain walk which means that you will walk all the time over rocks and stones and pebbles, in the video below you can see a small part of the path that you will walk.
Because of this stone path you will have to look all the time where you put your feet and that means that you will have to stand still from time to time to look around you and admire the beautiful nature. Every time you look up you will have a totaly different view.
Now before you enter the gorge make sure to take the following with you :
- a small bottle that you can refill in the gorge at the rest areas or from the stream.
- sun protection, a hat or cap and sunglasses.
- good walking shoes and walking poles can help a lot during the descent.
- something to eat, best fruit or a light vitamin meal.
- a backpack
The gorge has only one entrance and one exit that one is after 16km so you can not stop walking after 3 or 5 or more km, you have to go all the way. Unless you decide to walk back up after a few km. But in case you are injured and you can not walk any more then maybe the doctor or the wardens will decide to put you on a mule, like these
Now don’t you think that there is always a doctor in the gorge, mostly during the months July and August there is a doctor and that’s it, but don’t worry, the wardens and the guides are very experienced and will be able to help you with any small issue you have. Don’t expect though that they can help people with serieus health problems, they should not even walk the gorge.
Children can walk the gorge and they are mostly faster than the parents, so make sure they stick with you so you don’t have to run up and down the path to find them.
When you want to walk the gorge in one day and catch the boat in Agia Roumeli then make sure you are on time because the last boat to Chora Sfakion leaves at 17.50 and the last one to Sougia at 17.30. You can buy tickets for both trips at Agia Roumeli.
The map below shows you the path in the gorge, its rest areas and a time table. Using this map you will at all times know where you are in the gorge and how much time you still need to reach its end. You can make a screen shot of it and have it with you in the gorge. You can also print it but don’t waste paper if not necessairy.
The first large rest area has the name Agios Nikolaos, you can sit there at one of its tables and eat some off the food you brought with you to eat in the gorge.
Look below how this rest area looks like when you enter it.
When you reach this area you have made the steepest part of the gorge. At the next part the path goes up and down untill you reach after 3 km the Samaria village. The next video shows you the entrance of the village
It is in the Samaria village on the 7th km that you can see some Kri kri goats, this kind of goat is endemic and protected so you should not feed them, otherwise they won’t learn to search for food in winter when the gorge is closed.
In the samaria village there is a guest book in which you can write down your impression about the gorge, the walk, the stunning views etc. In the evening, when the wardens are all alone in the village, they like to read what visitors wrote in the book, so this is your chance to make their day!
It is here in the samaria village that you will find the doctor and/or the wardens and guides.
After your rest in the samaria village, you cross the bridge again and you follow the path to the left, after aproximatly 500m you will start walking deep down on the bottom of the gorge. Here, to me, the views are realy stunning!
You will see the 2 mountain sides rising high up next to you and getting narrower and narrower, there are different stone kinds and colors in the mountain side as also large trees grow out of the rocks!
Although it is the most beautiful part of the gorge you are not allowed to sit here and enjoy the views, because here stones can fall.
This doesn’t happen every day of course not even every week, it happens 3 or 4 times a season but it is better to know what you have to do just in case this happens.
First of all you don’t walk with music in you ears here because you can hear the stones getting loose from the mountain side or you can hear them fall down. When this happens then you go stand against the mountain side, stones fall down at at least 1 meter from the side so you are safe there. Secondly do not shout over there because stones fall down when there are goats on the mountainside, so when somebody starts shouting, these goats get afraid, they run away and push stones down. And last but not least, do not rest there!! You may stand still and take some pictures of course.
During this 4km walk until the rest area Afendis Christos on the 11th km you will have to cross the water again and around 200meter after you did that you will see that the mountain side turns to the left and in that corner on your right you will see another gorge!
On the 11th km you will feel some cold air comming out of some holes in the mountain side, this is very refreshing during the hot summer months.
Now you have reached the rest area Afentis Christos that lies at 5 minutes walking of the Iron Doors, the narrowest place in the gorge.
The Iron Doors you are finally there!
Sometimes spring water runs through here so you have to use the small bridge or step from stone to stone to reach the other side, and usualy at the end of the season this place is dry. Here the gorge is only 3m wide, beautiful isn’t it! Your time now to take a picture here 😉
So, you are nearly at the end, it will take you around half an hour to reach the exit of the national park where your ticket will be checked and then you can have seat and rest a bit with a fresh squeezed orange juice or a fresh tapped draft beer.
And when you’re too tired or you’re injured then you can always take the shuttle bus at the end of the gorge that will take you to the village Agia Roumeli (2km distance)
When you want to walk the gorge in one day and catch the boat in Agia Roumeli then make sure you are on time because the last boat to Sougia leave at 17.30hrs. You can buy tickets for both trips at Agia Roumeli. http://www.anendyk.gr. The last one to Sfakia at 17.50hrs with the company NEN KRITIS.
You can only leave Agia Roumeli with the boat because there are no roads leading to it, you can also stay the night there and believe me, once all the hikers are gone it is very quiet and peaceful there.
Going to Sfakion with the boat you will pass from the village Loutro, another small village that is not accessible by any road.