Have a Gorge-ous Hiking Adventure in Crete at the Samaria Gorge
One of the most well known natural wonders in Crete is the Samaria Gorge. The largest in Europe, this breathtakingly beautiful gorge can be hiked in one day. The gorge is a rich ecosystem that is filled with wildflowers, herbs and crystal clear spring water trickling down from high in the mountains.
If you are of average fitness, you can walk the Samaria Gorge in approximately 4-6 hours by taking the foot path along the river bed. The trail is mostly downhill and it ends at Agia Roumeli village. When you complete the walk, you can enjoy a meal at one of the local tavernas or go for a swim in the Libyan Sea. You can then take a ferry back to Sougia.
Keep in mind that if you are pregnant, have a heart condition, or suffer from high blood pressure, you should not hike the Samaria Gorge. It is not an easy walk and it consists of 12 miles of very steep and rough terrain. You should also avoid the gorge if the weather is very hot. Always check the weather before you plan your hike.
There are daily buses to the beginning of the walk from Chiania. The bus will be marked OMALOS and the fare for a round trip is around €14. The bus takes approximately one hour, so be sure to allow time for this. The park visiting hours are from 7AM until 3PM every day and the park is only open from May 1st to October 15th. It is not permitted to camp within the park or to swim in any of the streams within the gorge. The entrance fee to the gorge is €5.
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What to Bring With You
- You can bring a liter water bottle with you for your hike, but keep in mind that you can fill up from any of the crystal clear running springs along the way.
- Bring plenty of layers with you because it will be cooler at the top of the gorge than at the bottom. Lightweight layers, such as fleece or merino wool, are easier to carry.
- Wear two pairs of socks as walking down the steep hills can be hard on your feet. Hiking boots are not necessary.
- Make sure to bring a small first aid kit with antiseptic cream or spray and bandages to patch up any bumps and scrapes that you get along the way.
- A walking stick can help you to keep your balance while scrambling along the rocks.
- Don’t forget to also bring a hat and sunscreen as the second half of the walk is very sunny and the weather in Crete can be very warm.
The Samaria Gorge – Photo credit
When you begin the hike, be sure to start off very carefully. The steepest and most dangerous part of the trail is at the beginning and it is known as the “Wooden Staircase.” This is a series of shallow steps with a guardrail. Don’t put all of your weight and balance on the guardrail as it could possibly break!
If there is a donkey coming past you on the wooden staircase, press yourself against the wall and let them pass you on that side. This is much safer than being on the side with the flimsy railing. Watch your footing because it can be very easy to turn an ankle with the uneven and rocky terrain.
With these tips in mind, you will have a safe and enjoyable hike along the beautiful Samaria Gorge in Crete. Enjoy exploring this natural wonder!
About the Author: Louise Vinciguerra is originally from Brooklyn and a devout nature lover. When she’s not on Facebook, WordPress or Twitter, she enjoys dabbling in urban farming or planning nature trips in her resident city of Rome.
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