Hiking through the Samaria Gorge
The Samaria Gorge, with its 18 km length, is the longest ravine in Europe.
This gorge is part of the Crete White Mountain National Park in western Crete. Like the other Cretan gorges, the Samaria Gorge is also a riverbed and in the wintertime it is full of water. This spectacular gorge is open from the beginning of May till the end of October and sometimes from the beginning of April, provided there has been no heavy rain in the previous months. As the Samaria Gorge is the most famous gorge, you may rest assured that there will be crowds of walkers but it is, however, a “must”. The rule for this gorge is the same: you must wear the right clothes and shoes for walking and hiking. The Samaria Gorge is the home of the Cretan ibex (antelope) the “Kri-Kri”. The gorge is situated in western Crete. The starting point is Xyloskalo, which is situated in the Omalos Plateau. In the gorge you will find the most famous Cretan herb the “DIKTAMNUS”. In earlier times, a young man who wished to make his feelings of love known to a young woman would present her with a stalk of Crete Diktamus. This herb is used to make tea; Diktamus tea has a bitter taste, you have to add Cretan honey, not sugar! You can use this tea if you have stomach ache or a headache. The path is mainly downhill.
You have to bear in mind that the beginning of the walk starts from an altitude of about 800m so even in the summertime it will be cold at the beginning.
Impressive rocks and springs will follow you the entire length. Before you arrive in the village of Agia Roumeli, the famous “Sideroportes” (Iron Gate)is at the southern exit of the gorge where the rock wall rises 300 metres on either side of the passage, only 3 metres wide.
At the end of your tour you arrive in the south coast village of Agia Roumeli where you can buy tickets for the ferryboat to Sfakia. From Sfakia village you can take the bus back to Chania.You have to imagine that this gorge is like a one way street; it is impossible to walk the Samaria Gorge downhill (18 km) and then back uphill (18 km) as the gorge is open only during the day.
We recommend buying this excursion as a package sold locally in many resorts or travel agencies. You will be picked up from your hotel very early in the morning and will be brought back in the evening.