Samaria National Park
Entrance fee: 5 €
Period: May 1st - October 15th
from 6:00 am to 3:00pm
Telephone: +30 28210 84211
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors usually walk the gorge from Xylóskalo
, in Omalos, to Agia Roumeli
. The best way to reach Omalos is by public bus, or join an organised group.
At the entrance of the gorge there are two tourist pavilions with café - restaurants, the information office and parking area.
Agia Roumeli is an isolated small village connected to the rest of Crete only with sea lines. There are no cars nor bikes. The only option - except for walking - that visitors have in order to get back to their base is to take the boat. There are frequent schedules to Sfakia (Hora), Paleohora and Sougia.
The Gorge is open to visitors from May to October 15th
. Depending on the weather the period may be extended until the end of October. Closures can occur during this period in case of rains, strong winds or any other danger.
This is mainly for safety reasons, to protect visitors in case of rockfall, river overflow, fire etc.
The best time to walk the Samaria gorge is probably May, early June and late September, October
. At these times, there are less people visiting the gorge, the weather is mild and the nature is at its best.
During the day the park is open from 6 o' clock in the morning until 3 o' clock in the afternoon. After 3:00pm the visitors may enter the gorge but are allowed to walk only the first two kilometers (from both sides).
Walking through the gorge is an experience that all visitors should enjoy.
The park authorities have put a set of rules
to ensure visitor's enjoyment and safety and the protection of this magnificent natural monument.
People have been known to walk through it in 3-4 hours, but a more sedate pace, would allow the visitor, time to enjoy it more.
Usually people start their walk at 7-8 in the morning and come out to the beach at about 4 o' clock in the afternoon.
Walking is allowed only along the signposted trail, in order to limit the disturbance to the natural habitats and wildlife species.
Park wardens, equipped with walkie - talkies, constantly patrol the gorge and are always available for assistance. Stopping for a break is only allowed on certain resting points every 2-3 kilometers.
There are many well maintained springs with fresh water
, along the gorge, where visitors can drink water and fill up their water flasks. Toilets
are also in several spots.
The path from Xyloskalo (1250m alt), descends following the steep slope until the bottom of the gorge where it meets the riverbed. This part of the path has steps and wooden handrail. It is in the shade of tall trees and at several points offers spectacular views. It is hard though for those with knee problems.
Halfway through the park lies the village of Samaria
about 7.5kms from Xyloskalo.
Here is the main resting point where visitors usually stop for a while, to get some rest at the benches and stroll around the village's old houses and churches. Some of those houses are restored and are being used as the guards' post, the doctor's office and the information kiosk which is housed in the old olive press. There is also a heliport for emergencies.
Chances are that individuals of the famous Kri-Kri (The feral goat of Crete) will be seen in the surroundings, especially young animals, which are less shy.
At the village's edge lies the byzantine church of "Osia Maria of Egypt". The name Samaria is quite likely a corruption of that name.
After the deserted village, follows the most impressive part of the gorge, with high walls, narrow passages and interesting geological formations.
The path continues either parallel or crossing the river several times, where visitors, in most cases, have to step on big stones in order cross the river. The temperature also reaches high levels in this part.
At the 11th km lie the famous "Pόrtes" or "Siderόportes"
(Gates or Iron Gates) where the sheer rock walls rise to 300 m leaving a passage only 3.5m wide.
After the "Gates" the gorge widens and there is only 1.5 km left until the exit of the park and then another 3.5km, through the deserted village of Old Agia Roumeli
to the beach.
Although relatively easy, the crossing of the Samarian Gorge, is still a 16 km long walk, on stony and uneven terrain and it is, undoubtedly, a hard test for anyone's body.
People who are planning to do the walk should be in good physical shape and well prepared. Those who have problems with their knees, or the extensive heat should avoid the walk or choose to do the "Easy Way"