Walking in the Samaria Gorge in Crete
If you have not walked through the Samaria Gorge, you have not been to Crete. Well, there are those who say so, but only those who have walked through the gorge of Samaria. So if you haven't walked through the gorge, and have been to Crete, then you've still been to Crete. However, I think everyone who visit Crete should walk through the Samaria Gorge at some point in their lives, that is of course only if you are physically fit. I can promise you that it will be an once in a lifetime experience.
Hiking through the Samaria gorge.
The majority of all who walk through the gorge have bought a tour package including transfer to the gorge, entrance fee (about 5 €), guide in the gorge, boat trip to Chora Sfakion (most often), Sougia or Paleochora, and bus back home to the hotel again. Most travel agencies - and package tour operators - organize organized tours. The smartest thing is to buy such a package.
This is where the hike begins.
We have done the gorge using our own transport, we drove up to the trailhead and walked through the gorge, first down and then up. The reason why we did is was because the travel agency that we bought tickets from did not pick us up in the morning. I can assure that it felt pretty disappointing. The travel agency is called Tellus and is located in the corner of Odos Halidon and Plateia 1866 in Chania city. We do not recommend that travel agency (Tellus).
The gorge of Samaria has been a National Park ever since 1962. The gorge is about 16 kilometres long and this makes it one of the longest in Europe. The last three kilometres of the hike do not belong to the National Park.
The first two kilometres are steep downhill and take about an hour to walk.
The hike starts at an altitude of 1,250 meters, and ends 0 metres above sea level in Agia Roumeli. In other words, you will walk downhill the whole distance. The first two kilometres are very steep. You must not have problems with your knees if you are going to make it. It took us just over an hour to walk the first two kilometres.
The gorge is usually open from the beginning of May to the end of October, it depends on the weather conditions. The terrain is mostly rocky, rocky and again rocky. Sometimes there are small rocks, sometimes large rocks, and sometimes very large rocks. You must concentrate so you do not stumble and break your foot.
Rest break in the abounded village of Samaria.
The scenery is of course quite adorable, and monumentally impressive. It will take your breath away, several times, I promise. About halfway there is an uninhabited village also called Samaria. Almost all hikers take a rest break here before continuing the laborious track down to the sea. The village was abandoned in 1962 when the National Park was established. Wondering how it was like to live as isolated as they did? Fascinating that it even worked.
There are many stones in the gorge.
The entire walk takes between four and seven hours depending on your
speed. The hard thing is not the walking distance, it is to keep track
of where you put your feet. At least I think so. Of course, you have to
be completely healthy to be able to walk that far. Bad knees are unthinkable.
There is plenty of water along the way to refill your water bottle. So
you do not need to bring water for the entire hike. Toilets are also
available along the way. You need to bring sunscreen, and a hat or
cap, as protection for the sun. A warm sweater, and preferably a pair
of long trousers, is also good to bring.
If you walk fast, you reduce the risk of getting stones in the head. :-)
The buses arrive at the gorge entrance early in the morning and then it can be cold. It was only eight degrees when we were here last. You must also bring something to eat. There is nothing to buy until you arrive at Agia Roumeli. Last, but not least, you need a pair of really good shoes. It doesn't have to be hiking boots, we walked with regular running shoes, and that was no problem. It is prohibited to smoke, except in special areas.
It is important to have good shoes and to be aware of the ground.
Is it worth the effort to walk through the Samaria Gorge? Yes, I absolutely think it is. It may not feel that way when you get back to the hotel, because then you are quite exhausted, but the hike itself is a first-rate experience, and when you have recovered from the hike you feel extremely proud.
The reward after the hike is a dip in the sea at Agia Roumeli, and a cold beer at one of the tavernas.
If you do not want to go back to wherever you started your day, you can stay overnight in Agia Roumeli. It's a nice little village with tavernas and hotels. The village is not accessibly by road, the only way to get there is by boat, or on foot.
As I wrote further up we drove our own vehicle to the gorge. We had only intended to walk a short distance, just to see the gorge, disappointed as we were because the bus did not come to pick us up. But we walk almost the whole hiking trail (not to Agia Roumeli) and then we walked back up again. I do not recommend it, and we will not do it again. If we are able to walk down and up, I think that almost everyone can walk down. Don't you think. :-)
WHAT YOU MUST NOT MISS WHEN YOU HAVE WALKED IN THE SAMARIA GORGE
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