Hiking in the Samaria Gorge
If you enjoy hiking, the gorge of Samaria is the perfect destination for you! Located in Greece and more specifically in Chania of Crete, Samaria Gorge is the most famous gorges in Europe and the biggest gorge of Greece. The view? Breathtaking. The experience? Unique. That’s why a lot of people visit it every year from all over the world.
How to get there
First of all, you need to get to Crete and most specifically to Chania, the second largest city of Crete. The gorge is located on the southern part of Chania therefore you need to take the bus to Omalos (the mountain and the start of the gorge). There are scheduled itineraries that take you directly to the starting point. Until you get there you will have the chance to see a lot beautiful sceneries and get a glimpse of the Cretan nature. It is not suggested to get there with your own car since you will need to return at the beginning of the gorge to get your car after the hiking.
About the hiking
The hiking in the Gorge of Samaria is ideal for those who already have an experience in hiking and for those who are really adventurous. No special equipment is needed but make sure that your shoes are appropriate and in good condition in order to avoid injuries.
The scenery is unique and breathtaking. No man interventions have been made so you can explore nature in all its beauty. The people who work there are very friendly and helpful in case you need something and they work very hard to maintain the wildlife and everything that exists there. In case you don’t feel well or you are injured, you can call them and they will transport you until the end of the gorge with a donkey.
The total distance of the gorge is 16 km and you need to walk for 2 more km in order to get to the village of Agia Roumeli. It took me approximately 5 hours to get from the top to the bottom of the gorge but that depends on your experience and how many times you want to stop. I suggest to take your time, make some stops to rest, take a lot of pictures and breath the clean air.
Every few miles you will find resting stops with benches, fresh water sources and rest rooms.
The most famous part of the gorge is called “Portes” (in Greek it means “ Doors”. In this spot, the two sides of the gorge come together leaving a space of only 4m while they are 500m tall!
In the past, inside the Gorge of Samaria there was a small village and people used to actually live there. Nowadays no one lives there permanently but you can still see some of the remains of their houses and quite a few churches.
If you are not very experienced in hiking (like me) follow these tips that will save you later!
- Before you visit the Gorge, make sure the check the bus itineraries to make sure there is no change in the timetables.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Make a lot of stops but avoid resting for a long time, because your muscles will be stiffened and it will be harder for you to continue.
- Wear light and comfortable clothes but always take a jacket with you in case it gets cold.
- Take some snacks with you preferably fruit or sandwiches. You will get hungry while hiking and you will need to refill your batteries.
- There is no reception while you are in the gorge so contact everyone you want before entering the gorge.
- Be careful where you stop, in windy days some rocks may fall down. I suggest resting the designated spots.
When to visit
The gorge is open from May to October. I suggest visiting during spring or in the beginning/ ending of summer. Avoid the very warm months of the summer since it can be very crowded and very hot. In any case don’t forget to bring your water and comfortable clothes!
The Cretan Ibex
You will have the opportunity to meet the famous Cretan Ibex (in Greek it is called “Kri’Kri”). It is a wild species of goat that only lives in Crete and only in the Gorge of Samaria and in the White Mountains. The locals are very protective of them, but you will have the chance to see them up close and maybe feed them.
Agia Roumeli is the village that is located at the end of the Samaria Gorge. A lot of people of people choose to stay there after they finish the route of the Gorge. There are a lot of small hotels and taverns where you can relax and spend the rest of the day. The food there is amazing and you will have the chance to taste local Cretan flavors. You should definitely swim in the beach of Agia Roumeli. The waters there are quite cold in comparison to the waters of the rest of the island but the scenery and the relaxation after the long hiking is really relieving. What else do you need for a perfect day?
In Agia Roumeli I suggest visiting the old church of Panagia. It is an ancient church built in 1500 B.C and on the walls you can see the very carefully designed mosaics that remain beautiful all these years.
The way back
You have two options in order to return to Chania. You can either pass through the gorge again or leave with the small boat that takes you to Sfakia. Of course I suggest the second option. The route is amazing and you will see the crystal clear waters of Loutro and Sweet Waters. I am sure that you will want to stop and dive in, but we will see more about this place in another article.
I have been to this gorge three times and I can’t wait to visit it again! Take your friends and start this adventure!