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Samaria Gorge Crete, Samaria Kloof Kreta. Samaria Gorge Crete, Samaria Kloof Kreta Samaria Gorge Crete, Samaria Kloof Kreta. Samaria Gorge Crete, Samaria Kloof Kreta
The Samaria Gorge in Crete
Nederlands Map of Crete

The walk through the National Park of the Samaria Gorge in the south west of Crete usually starts at the village of Omalos and ends after 16 kilometers in the village of Agia Roumeli. It starts at an altitude of 1250m in the White Mountains and takes you all the way down to the shores of the Libyan sea in Agia Roumeli. The actual walk through the National Park of Samaria is 13 km (but you will have to walk the extra 3 km to Agia Roumeli from the eit of the National Park). The very narrow passage near the end of the gorge is often called the "Iron Gates".

The Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe and the most narrow in the world. In 1962 it was declared a national Park because of its unique wildlife like the kri-kri goat and its special trees and plants (orchids for instance). Because of this also the inhabitants of the village of Samaria, which is situated in the gorge, was evacuated in 1965. Being one of Crete's top attractions the Samaria Gorge has become very crowded nowadays. There's also an entrance fee at the beginning of the Gorge (5 euro per person).

All the travel agencies have the Samaria Gorge on the excursion program, and thus early in the morning the buses with tourists depart from all angles and holes in Crete toward the gorge. Sometimes you will share the walk with a few thousand people. The tour takes about five to eight hours, depending on your pace. On top of this comes your bus ride to Samaria and back and the boat trip from Agia Roumeli to Chora Sfakion where the tour buses are to take you back to your hotel. It is therefore a long day. You would do well to take some food with you because you will not see taverns until you reach the end, at Agia Roumeli. Don't forget the sun lotion! En route there are water sources, but you can never go wrong if you bring a bottle of water. You can fill it at the water sources and drink it while you walk the Gorge. You also need to put on good walking shoes. Toe slippers are a don't, good sandals would perhaps be okay, but better is good sports shoes / walking shoes that you are used to (blisters).

Samaria Gorge Crete, Samaria Kloof Kreta. Samaria Gorge Crete, Samaria Kloof Kreta. Samaria Gorge Crete, Samaria Kloof Kreta.

You can book the Samaria excursion through your travel agent who arranges everything for you and will pick up at your hotel and bring you back again but you also can do it on your own. From Chania there are buses to the Omalos Heights and the Samaria Gorge and the bus service starts quite early. You would also come a day in advance to the Samaria Gorge, stay overnight and then walk the gorge before the big flock of tourists come in. This way you can make the walk in peace.

In the beginning of the walk there are quite a few stairs and it can get steep from time to time. On either sides there are cyprus trees and pine trees. After an hour you will run into the first water source, which is called Neroutsiko (small water). One kilometer further after crossing the small water stream several times in the net water source, Risa tis Sikias. The net sight is the Agios Nikolaos Chapel which is surrounded by enormous cyprus trees. The third water source at 4,5 kilometer from the starting point is carved into the stone. It is called Vrissi and it is situated at a 500 meter altitude. From now on the water stream sometimes disappears into the ground. After another 3 kilometer you will see the original and now deserted village of Samaria. For unlucky tourists there are mules here and even a helicopter landing place. There are benches and tables and there are two water sources, so you can catch your breath here and have a rest. Here you are almost half way your walk.

A little bit further down the route past the ruined houses of the village of Kato Chorio you will see on your left side against the mountain the small chapel of Ossia Maria. This old chapel changed names a couple of times during the centuries and it gave the Samaria Gorge its name. You will pass more cyprus trees, pine trees and olive trees (this used to be farming grounds) and then see the net water source called Vrissi tis Perdikas (Pigeons source). After three more kilometers is the net source Kephalovrissi which is surrounded by many large trees. The gorge is getting more narrow now. These narrow places in the Samaria Gorge are called "portes", meaning "gates".

At one place the steep cliffs are only 3 to 4 meters wide and rise up hundreds of meters. After this gate the Gorge gets wider again. The first village on the way is Spilia where you can get a drink. After this there are the villages of Meso Gitonia and Kato Gitonia until you reach the final destination Agia Roumeli. This coastal village has a beach and plenty of places where you can have something to drink or to eat.

© Fester Medendorp, József Pataki, Hans Huisman, Frankie Miles, 2014
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