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Sfakia, South Hania
at 0km (N)
The Samaria Gorge is one of the longest ravines in Europe (with a total length of 16 km) and offers one of the most spectacular hiking routes in Europe. Its width ranges from 150 m (widest part) to 3 m (narrowest part). The walk from Xyloskalo in the plateau of Omalos to the shores of Libyan sea at Agia Roumeli, takes 6 to 8 hours. The Samaria Gorge has been designated as a national park in order to protect its flora and fauna. It is one of the last shelters of the mountain goat of Crete (Cretan Ibex, common name : kri-kri). The flora is extensive, ranging from high cypress trees to flowers and herbs. The walking path follows the river which flows to small lakes and waterfalls.
The Gorge is open to visitors from May to October.
Kri-Kri or Agrimi
Cretan Ibex, Lefka Ori, Hania
at 1.4km (S)
Kri-Kri is the common name of the Cretan feral goat (Capra aegagrus ssp. cretica) which is the largest wild mammal on the island. Its grandeur, its bravery, its ability to observe without being noticed, its speed and its impressive horns are the features that were loved by the locals and made it a symbol of Crete and the untamed Cretan spirit. It lives mainly on the White Mountains and its local name is "Agrimi" (GR: Αγρίμι = the wild one) for the male and "Sanada" (GR: Σανάδα) for the female. Recent years, young kri-kris have approached the old village of Samaria, where they are fed by the park rangers and can be seen by the visitors. Kri-kris and goats are close genetically, as the hybridization that exists between them show. Kri-kri's size however is a good deal larger than that of a goat
Kri-kris have a strong sexual dimorphism. Males are larger than females. They all have horns, with annual rings and knobs, from which their age can be easily calculated. Males have larger horns than females (up to 90 cm), which curve backwards. An other characteristic of the males is the beard, which rarely occurs in females. Their coat is short and brown in summer and brownish and denser in winter. They have a black line on the back, which extends from the neck to the top of the tail while at its shoulders the line intersects with another one that reaches the stomach. There are also black patterns on the front parts of their legs.
There are numerous representations of Kri-kris on ancient sealstones, vases and coins, indicating the esteem in which they were held by the people of antiquity.
Phototograph by Anastassios Sakoulis - www.photophysis.gr
Samaria National Park
at 1.4km (S)
The deserted village of Samariá (GR: Σαμαριά) is located in the middle of the gorge of Samaria, 7.5 km away from Xyloskalo and 8.5km fro Agia Roumeli. This is the main resting point for the gorge walkers coming down from Omalos. There is a fountain with fresh drinkable water from the spring, benches and some tables, in the shade of tall plane trees where the visitors can relax and have some food (Only if they carry it with them).
The village of Samaria was abandoned in 1962, when the area declared a National Park. The main occupations of its inhabitants were the wood cutting and bee keeping. Opposite the village are the old olive trees cultivated mainly for the residents' own consumption.
Some of the village' s ruined housed are restored and are used today by the gorge authorities. One houses the guards' post, another the doctor's office and a third - the old olive mill - houses the information kiosk of the park where the visitors can view old pictures and folk art exhibits.
Kri - kris (the Cetan Ibex) make their appearance here from time to time especially the young ones which are less shy.
At the village's edge lies the byzantine church of "Osia Maria of Egypt" (Osia = Saint). The name Samaria is believed that is a corruption of the words "Osia Maria" or "Santa Maria".
A little before the village (coming from Xyloskalo) in a small clearing lies the small church of Agios Geórgios.
Lefka Ori, Hania
at 2.8km (NW)
Kallérgi Mountain Refuge is located on the western region of Crete, above the plateau of Omalos, in the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) mountain range at an altitude of 1680 metres. The site is of unique natural beauty and commands great views to the surrounding peaks and the gorge of Samaria. It can be accessed by car or on foot (1 1/2 hour) via the 5km long dirt road from Omalos. The refuge can accommodate up to 50 people. It features a fully equipped kitchen, a lodge with fire place and wood burning stoves, toilets (indoors and outdoors) and a camping area. Electricity is supplied by a generator.
Kalergi refuge operates throughout the year (from November to March only on weekends)
For more information please visit:Mountaineering Club of Hania
E4 Trail: 19. Trail: Kallerghi to Kandanos
by Richard Ellis
at 2.8km (NW)
1st September - The last two days of the walk were rather low key after the drama of the White Mountains. I left Kallerghi at 0800 after a proper Austrian mountain breakfast served up by my new Bulgarian friend Daniel. It is about an hour down the dirt road to the Omalos plateau and half way down I realised I had left my beloved katsouna (shepherd's crook) at the hut. I couldn't bear the prospect of going all the way back up so I rang Joseph to say that I would collect it the following week. I have learnt that it is now forbidden to cut sticks from the wood of the rare ambelitsia tree so mine is now a museum piece (with the distinction of having walked 450 kms across Crete).
Distance: 28.4 km
Time: 8 hrs. 20 mins.
Mov av 4.2 km/hr
at 3.2km (W)
Xylóskalo (Ksyloskalo GR: Ξυλόσκαλο) is the point where the Samarian gorge starts. It is located on the Lefka Ori (White Mountains) in the plateau of Omalos, 43 km from the city of Hania at 1250m above sea level. It is also the entrance to the gorge. There are two tourist lodges where visitors can rest and have food or coffee and take panoramic pictures of the gorge and the White Mountains. There is also the information center of the National Park and a parking area.
Xyloskalo means the "wooden stair" and refers to a wooden staircase built by the locals in order to facilitate the entrance to the gorge as at this point the cliffs are very steep. Today this part of the path is made of stones and it has a wooden handrail.
About 1km before Xyloskalo a dirt road leads, after 5 km, to the Kallergis mountain lodge at 1680m a.s.l.
Samaria National Park
at 5.5km (S)
Pórtes (GR: Πόρτες - Gates) or Sideróportes (Iron Gates) is maybe the most striking point of the canyon. Here the canyon walls rise nearly 300 meters while the width is only 3.5 m. At this point the water runs almost all year round. The stratified limestone, the dominant rock of the canyon, forms specific geological formations, showing all the geological history of the canyon in the eyes of connoisseurs. Portes are 11 km away from the entrance of the Samarian gorge at Xylóskalo and 4km from the beach at Agia Roumeli.
White Mountains, Hania
at 6.2km (NW)
The famous - mainly due to the gorge of Samaria- plateau of Omalos (GR: Ομαλός) is surrounded by the high crowns of the Lefka Ori (White Mountains) at 1,040 to 1,250 meters and is just 38 km from the town of Chania. It extends to the counties of Sfakia, Selino and Kydonia in the prefecture of Hania. Its shape is nearly rectangular with a perimeter of about 25kms and a diameter of approximately 4 kms. It can be reached by car from the north (Neratzoporo) and from the south (Agios Theodoros).
E4 Trail: 18. Trail: Katsiveli to Kallerghi
by Richard Ellis
at 7.2km (E)
31th August - Katsiveli to Kallerghi via Pachnes- The day dawned with a cloudless blue sky. I was lucky. The route starts with a gentle two km warm up across the Niato plateau before turning more vicious. The next phase is a very steep 700 meter climb up the north east ridge of Kastro. One of the pluses is that you are doing this in the relative cool of the morning - one of the minuses is that you will probably be carrying something like five litres of water.
Distance Total (with Pachnes climb): 25.3 km
Time: 9 hrs. 30 mins.
Mov av 3.3 km/hr
Height overnight: 1,518m.(Kalergi)
Max. height: 2,453m.(Pachnes)
To Pachnes and back:12.1km, time 4hrs 10mins.
Agia Rouméli village - Tarra
Sfakia, South Hania
at 8.2km (S)
Agia Rouméli (GR: Αγία Ρουμέλη)is a small fishing village, approximately two kms from the ending of Samaria Gorge. It is accessible only by boat from Paleohora, and from Hora Sfakion. It serves mainly as a stopover for visitors coming down the Samaria Gorge, and waiting for the boat to take them to Sfakia or Paleohora. However those who decide to stay for a couple of days or more will find apart from the unique scenery, a great beach with crystal clear water, plenty of interesting walks and a good choice of accommodations, taverns, cafés and stores.
The place is also rich in history as it was inhabited since the antiquity. It is the site of the ancient city of Tárra (GR: Τάρρα), a famous cult place, that flourished from the Classical to the Roman times.
Ágios Pávlos beach
Sfakia, South Hania
at 9.9km (SE)
Ágios Pávlos (GR: Άγιος Παύλος)is a beach on the shores of Sfakiá between Agia Rouméli and Loutró. The pine trees from the high cliffs above almost reach the sea and form a unique landscape. The beach is sandy with pebbles with no facilities except for a small tavern. It can be reached only on foot ( about 1 hour walk from Agia Roumeli) or by boat. The picturesque small church of Agios Pavlos (Saint Paul) a byzantine basilica of the 10th century A.D. with frescoes, lies just a few meters from the sea. It is built with stones from the beach itself on the spot where Saint Paul reportedly baptised people on his way to Rome.
at 11.8km (N)
Thérisso (GR: Θέρισο) is a small village, built on the foot of the White mountains, at 580 m a.s.l, 20km south of the city of Hania. It has 156 inhabitants and it is famous for its physical beauty, its diary-farming and its glorious past.
You can reach Therisso from Perivolia passing through the Canyon (good asphalt road), or from Drakona, crossing the 7km dirt road through the forest.
From here starts the trekking path which leads to the highest peak of the White mountains, Pahnes (2452m)
Due to its location Therisso played a significant role at the history of the island especially during the 19th Century. A mill's stone located at the entrance of the village reminds the death of a young woman (grinded alive), when she denied to surrender to Mustafa Pasha.
Here were born the great Cretan revolutionaries (Hainis), Vassilis, Giannis and Stefanos Halis. Vassilis Halis, became a hainis very young, and participated to the most great battles against the Turks in Crete and Peloponnissos. He was lt General when he died at Nafplion (Peloponnissos) in 1846.
But Therisso is mostly known for its relation with the Venizelos movement in March 1905. Venizelos, who dissented with prince George' policy and declared the Union of Crete with Greece, had his headquarters at Therisso. The house of Venizelos is today a museum.
The visitor to Therisso will admire the natural beauty, learn a lot of the history of the place listening to various stories and looking at the historical monuments, and taste the local specialties at the lovely taverns of the village.
2,5 km north of Therisso, at the left bank of Kladissos river, there is a cave where signs of neolithic and Minoan habitation were discovered. It is believed that it was a worship place.
Coastal town in Selino, South Hania
at 14.1km (SW)
The village of Souyia or Soúgia (GR:Σούγια) is located 75 km southwest of Hania at the southern coast of Crete a little to the east of Paliohora. Sougia is becoming very popular vacation place especially with nature lovers and walkers. There are some ancient sites around and Sougia itself was the port of the ancient town 'Elyros'. There are also quite a few accommodation properties and taverns, a great beach and a small port .
Elyros, Ancient city
at 14.5km (W)
Elyros ("Έλυρος" in Greek) is an ancient city, located in southwest Crete, in Kefala Hill, near the village Rodovani and is presently unexcavated. Elyros was flourishing at least as early as the Greek Classical Period, e.g. 500 to 350 BC. In the Classical Period Elyros was the most important ancient city in southwestern Crete, having about 16,000 inhabitants. It was an industrial and commercial city with large weapons production. Syia and Lissos were its harbours. Apollo, Phylakides and Philandros, sons of Apollo and nymph Akakallida, were worshiped there. In the third century BC Elyros was at war with Kydonia, an important center of Cretan power, located in the modern city of Chania. The citizens of Elyros sent to the Delphi Oracle, a bronze votive complex that represents a goat feeding the sons of Apollo when they were infants. It is also one of the thirty cities that signed the decree with Eumenes B’ in 183 BC.Elyros was also important during Roman times. A Roman statue, the Philosopher of Elyros was recovered here and is now in the Archaeological Museum of Chania. During Byzantine times, Elyros was the seat of an Archbishop and the remains of the bishopric church, a sixth century basilica, can still be seen in the centre of the old city. Robert Pashley was the first who identified the location of the city, near village Rodovani. Thenon studied more carefully the ruins of the city and discovered the inscription that says: “it seemed to the city of the Elyrians”.
The output of its mint consists of silver drachms from the 3rd c. BC, which depict a wild goat and a bee; in addition to their function as religious symbols, these undoubtedly hint at the stock-raising activities in the region, particularly to this kind of wild goat, which can still be found in great numbers on the island. The bee also has reference to the abundant honey-production of Crete.
at 14.8km (N)
Within a few distance from the village of Perivolia, starts the gorgeous canyon of Therisso (Theriano faragi or Eleftherios Venizelos Gorge), which leads to the village of Therisso at 580m a.s.l.
Six kilometers long, the gorge stretches like a snake, with high, almost vertical walls, and rich flora and fauna.It was a difficult to trespass gate, for the invaders, and that is the reason why Therisso was the center of the Cretan rebels during the 19th Century.
The authorities has recently renamed the gorge, giving to it the name of the great Cretan statesman, Eleftherios Venizelos, who's name is strongly related with the area.
Daskalogiannis (Ioannis Vlachos)
Cretan hero born in Anopolis, Sfakia
at 15.2km (SE)
Daskalogiannis (GR: Δασκαλογιάννης) - born in Anopolis, Sfakia - started planning a revolutionary liberation movement in Crete in 1769 and completed the preparations for the revolution in Sfakia in the spring of 1770. In 1770, the revolution that had already broken out in other parts of Greece broke out in Crete too. Daskalogiannis, revolt was the first step towards freedom from the Turkish occupation in Crete and kept people, hopes from freedom alive. The international airport of Chania is named after this hero.
Anopolis village & plateau
Sfakia, South Hania
at 15.3km (SE)
Anopolis is a small village, built on a small but fertile plateau, 12 km west from Sfakia at 600 m above sea level. There are still traces of the ruins of the ancient city that prospered around the 3rd century BC, who's port was Phoenix (Loutro). Ancient Anopolis was one of the thirty city - states that signed the peace decree with Eumenes B’ in 183 BC. and thus was able to mint its own coins.
During both the Venetian and the Turkish occupations, Anopolis was a center for revolutionary activities. It is the birth place of the freedom fighter Ioannis Daskalogiannis who's statue stands at the center of the village.There are three more small settlements, Limnia, Vigle and Pavliana on the same plateau.
The mountainous landscape is of outstanding wild beauty. In the village there are rooms for rent and a tavern.The village is worth visiting not only for its natural beauty but also for the opportunity to explore the White Mountains. One of the best hikes is to descent to the shore through the ravine of Aradena, a five hour walk through an imposing ravine that ends up to the wonderful beach of Marmara.
Sfakia, South Hania
at 16.1km (SE)
Loutro is a small village halfway from Agia Roumeli, where the Samarian gorge ends, to Hora Sfakion, accessible only by boat. The majestic scenery, the calm, the crystal clear water and the hospitality of the local people gave Loutro numerous friends and ardent visitors. No cars, no bikes... nothing to spoil the peace of this historical place. Some small hotels, apartments and rooms as well as a few lovely taverns offer their guests a friendly atmosphere that makes Loutro an ideal place for vacation and relax.
Ancient town in Selino, South Hania
at 16.6km (SW)
Located ~2.3km west of Sougia it was the religious centre of the cities in south-west Crete and the port of Elyros. It flourished during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In 1957-58 Asklepieion was excavated by N. Platon. The most important monuments of the site are: The Temple of Asklepios, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Part of a Roman theatre, Rock-cut and built chamber tombs.
There two byzantine chapels dedicated to Our Lady and Agios Kirikos
The beach in the small cove has coarse pebbles and clear waters.
Lissos (GR: Λισσός) nowadays is uninhabited and can be reached from Sougia only by foot (~1& 1/2 hours walk) or by boat (~20 minutes).
E4 Trail: 20. Trail: Kandanos to Chrisoskalitissa
by Richard Ellis
at 19.4km (W)
2nd September - I was up and away from Kandanos by 0650 with the intention of meeting Susa at Elos, spending the night there and dropping down to the west coast next morning. However, it is good to be flexible. The verges of the road to Elos were full of "mellow fruitfulness" - I enjoyed handfuls of blackberries and a couple of the sweetest figs I have ever tasted. The sweet chestnuts were looking good for later, but as all over Crete the grapes had been badly spoiled by a very cold wet Spring.
Distance: 32.3 km
Time: 7 hrs.
Mov av 5.3 km/hr
Height: Sea level.
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