Excursions and Walks / Hiking

Botanical Park

Nearly 20 hectares of land are waiting to welcome you, full of fruit trees from all over the world, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants in a park different from others, where the land’s formation and the region’s microclimate make it a paradise for hundreds of plants and animals! In the midst of this colorful and vivid landscape stands a burnt centennial olive tree, a memorial and a reference to the dismal fires of 2003, the park’s history and origin. The newest and one of the most interesting sites of the Prefecture of Chania lies only 18 kilometers outside the city, on the feet of the White Mountains. It is ideal for visitors of all ages, combining enjoyments that only Crete can offer!

 

Excursion to Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge

The Samariá Gorge (Greek: Φαράγγι Σαμαριάς or just Φαράγγι) is a National Park of Greece on the island of Crete - a major tourist attraction of the island - and a World's Biosphere Reserve.

It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains (Lefká Óri) and Mt. Volakias. While some say that the gorge is 18 km long, this distance refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli. In fact, the gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. The walk through Samaria National Park is 13 km long, but you have to walk another three km to Agia Roumeli from the park exit, making the hike 16 km.

The most famous part of the gorge is the stretch known as the "Iron Gates", where the sides of the gorge close in to a width of only four meters and soar up to a height of almost 1,000 feet. The gorge became a national park in 1962, particularly as a refuge for the rare Kri-Kri (Cretan wild goat), which is largely restricted to the park and an island just off the shore of Agia Marina. There are several other endemic species in the gorge and surrounding area, as well as many other species of flowers and birds.

The village of Samariá lies just inside the gorge. It was finally abandoned by the last remaining inhabitants in 1962 to make way for the park. The village and the gorge take their names from the village's ancient church, Óssia María - "the Bones of Mary".

A "must" for visitors to Crete is to complete the walk down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, at which point tourists sail to the nearby village of Hora Sfakion and catch a coach back to Chania. The walk takes 4–7 hours and can be strenuous, especially at the height of summer.

There also exists a "lazy way" - from Agia Roumeli to the Iron Gates (more or less an hour of non- challenging terrain) and back.

The park is supervised by the Department of Forestry and the gorge is generally open only from the beginning of May to the end of October.
In winter, high water and even snow make the gorge dangerous and impassable. It will also be closed on rainy days during "pre - and post" -summer-season (too dangerous because of rock falls).

You have to pay an entrance fee of Euro 5,- (as per Summer 2012) to enter the park (free to
children under 15, half price to students).

The gorge is open only during the day time and if you want to start walking in the afternoon you will only be allowed in up to a certain point. The guards want to make sure that everybody who walks in also gets out before nightfall. This is the reason why they ask you to present your ticket on the way out as it (supposedly) enables them to know if there is anyone still in the park at night.

The problem with Samaria is the crowds. It has become one of the "musts" if you go to Crete and there are up to 3.000 visitors a day on very busy days.
If you have the bad luck to pick one of those days, the atmosphere will be really spoilt. Starting at dawn (before the tourist coaches arrive) will give you a bit of a head start. It is possible to find good (and cheap) accommodation in Omalos.
The first tourist buses arrive at around 7.30 am and from then on it is an uninterrupted stream of buses until about 11.00 am.
You can also start walking after 12.00, there won't be many people but you will most probably need to spend the night in Agia Roumeli because the last boat out will have left when you get there.
As far as the times of the year are concerned, the best time is in the spring: the weather is still cool and the vegetation is at its best. The worst time is in the middle of the summer during a heat wave. Give it a miss and come again at a better time.

NOTOS offers you the Bus-Transfer from Paleochora dircetly to the entrance of the gorge every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7.30 a.m.
The price is € 18,- p.p., booking in advance is required.

Excursion to Agia Irini Gorge

Although the gorge of Agia Irini is less spectacular than the gorge of Samaria it is far less crowded and very beautiful.The walk back to Sougia takes a total of 4 hours and can be done throughout the year, provided that it hasn't rained in the preceding days. The path in the gorge was improved considerably a few years ago and is, for the most, without difficulties and easy to follow with plenty of shade. There are several resting places where you can theoretically get water (but the taps don't always work so make sure you bring your own supply).

After about 2 hours through the gorge the valley widens and you will see a sign pointing towards the left to a cafe. This is where you will meet the road again and it is probably easier to follow it than continue in the river bed to Sougia where the walking can get tedious. You can also eat at the cafe before continuing to Sougia so it is not necessary to carry food with you on this walk. Bear in mind that the last part of the walk to Sougia (which takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours) offers little shade.

NOTOS offers you the Bus-Transfer from Paleochora dircetly to the entrance of the gorge every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7.30 a.m. The price is € 18,- p.p., booking in advance is required.

Aradena Gorge

The gorge of Aradena is located in the region of Sfakia.

It runs from the southern slopes of the White Mountains to the small beach of Marmara (a little to the west of Loutro. The walk through the gorge used to be considered difficult because of a passage which had to be negotiated with a rope. About 10 years ago a solid metal ladder was attached to the cliff instead of the rope, making the passage easy - as long as you do not suffer from fear of heights (it is about 10 meters high). Three years ago a path was built which avoids the ladders and makes it a little bit more comfortable for people with fear of heights. But beware, although this new path has a handrail it is not appropriate if you suffer from vertigo.

Walking the gorge of Aradena is not for people without any walking experience: many passages require a good deal of surefootedness, especially if you are walking downwards.

The walk going upwards from the beach of Marmara to the abandoned village of Aradena because this walk is MUCH easier going up than going down.

Aradena Gorge

There are a lot of slightly tricky passages and they require less experience and concentration going up than going down. The fact that you are walking up from sea level to a height of about 750m is not very noticeable because the climb is spread over the length of the gorge.

To walk safely in this gorge you will need walking shoes with a reasonable grip. Do not ever walk in the gorge of Aradena when it is raining or has rained recently: the risk of stones falling is very real. On the subject of stones, there are a fair amount of goats in the gorge (no, they are not wild!) and these have a tendency to dislodge stones. Do not pass right under where there are goats. If you have no alternative way, wait till the goats have moved away and if necessary chase them away.

First you need to get to the beach of Marmara. This is best done walking (in about an hour) along a coastal path from Loutro. Alternatively, in summer there is a small boat taking people from Loutro to Marmara at 11.00 am. Check in Loutro if it is running.

You cannot miss the start of the gorge. Just walk up following the path in the river bed. The beginning of the walk is between high cliffs so you will get a fair amount of shade. As often there are a lot of oleander bushes (they flower in May - June) in the river bed. Avoid touching them, they are poisonous and some people will develop allergic reactions from simple skin contact.

After about 30 minutes walk, the gorge widens a little and you will see a sign pointing to the right with Taverna Livaniana written on it. This path takes you up to the village of Livaniana. An alternative if you just want a short walk through the gorge.Otherwise keep going straight up the gorge.

The path is marked with stone cairns and in places with spots of colour paint. Pay attention to them because there are several places where you might take the wrong route. You would not get lost but might make it a little bit more difficult. In a few spots there are two paths that have been marked. Don't panic, in this case both routes are OK.

The walk through Aradena is comparable to walking up a staircase with very wide steps: you walk for a while on almost flat ground, then get to a short steep part then flat again and on like this. There are seven steep passages. These are the parts where you are better off walking up (but still treading carefully) than down.

At the second steep place, in the middle of large oleander bushes there is a small spring, a little hidden from the path. This is the only water place in the gorge. This spring is really easy to miss (there are two paths that are marked with red dots and one of them does not pass near the spring) so do not rely on it for water and make sure that you carry enough for the whole walk.

After about one and a half to two hours you will arrive to a kind of fence across the gorge and have to turn left and start climbing a new path which was built to avoid the famous (or infamous) ladder which was used until then. It passes well above it, in the side of the cliff and descends again into the gorge. The path is well built and reasonably wide but you still need a little head for heights as it goes into the side of the cliff.

If you want to go the old way, pass under the fence and you will arrive to the metal ladder, in fact two of them within a couple of minutes. The higher one moves a little when you are on it but don't worry, it is really solid. After the ladder keep climbing up (it is a little tricky for a bit) until you reach the river bed again and soon you can see the bridge which leads from Anopolis to Aradena high above you.

You need to pass under the bridge (where you will often encounter rubbish and assorted nasties) and keep walking for another 10 minutes up the river bed. You then get to the very good path leading out of the gorge. If you go to your left it takes you to the village of Aradena, if you take the one leading up to the right (it starts about 40m further up the river bed) it takes you out on the other side of the gorge towards the village of Anopolis.

If you have never been to the village of Aradena, a visit is definitely recommendable. It will give you a good idea of traditional Cretan architecture.

If you want to continue to Anopolis follow the road (going east! going west will get you to Agios Ioannis where the road ends) for about 30 minutes and you get to the village. If you need to carry on to Chora Sfakion (about 13 km by road) it is generally quite easy to hitch a lift, if not always from tourists, certainly from the locals.

Imbros Gorge

Imbros Gorge

The trail through the Imbros-Gorge is eight kilometers long and runs from the village of Imbros in the fertile south of the Askyfou-Plain down to Komitades at the Libyan Sea. During this walk you will overcome a height difference of about 650 meters.

The walk starts gradually and is never very steep. The path requires walking on rock paths that are uneven so you need to wear good shoes. The scenery in Spring is quite beautiful with wildflowers blooming throughout the gorge.
There are interesting rock formations, caves and narrow canyons.
The walk takes about 3-4 hours even with children and older hikers.
Normally the Imbros Gorge is not too crowded and if you are lucky you can even meet the famous "Kri-Kri" - Crete/s wild mountain goats.

Recommendation (worth for all hikes on Crete in Summer: take enough water with you and wear good hiking shoes!

Excursion to Anidri (Gorge)

Enjoy a nice trip to a small mountain village nearby Paleochora including a walk through the small Anidri-Gorge down to the paradise beach of Anidri (Gianiskari Beach).

You will meet up on Sunday at 11h outside the NOTOS CAR & MOTORBIKE RENTAL office from where you will be transferred by car/mini bus to the small village of Anidri (approx. 10 min.). Arrived there you can have a quick refreshment at the local taverna before you start the guided walk to the old church and through Anidri Gorge (please make sure you wear appropriate walking shoes).

After a 90 minutes/walk from Anidri village down to Anidri Beach you will enjoy a small lunch at the Beach-Cantina – probably after a refreshing dive into the Libyan Sea. After lunch you can decide to either walk back to Paleochora with the guides or to stay longer and begin the trip back to the village independently.

In any case the walk back home will take about 60 minutes.

Half day tour to the paradise village of Azogires

On this 3 hours tour, your senses will be stunned by the beauty and the powerful presence of Azogires. The sounds, smells and the visual beauty penetrate you so deeply that you are stunned into submission. This tour will lead you to the Azogires/ Monastery and Museum, 1800 years old olive trees, the old school, the old olive mill, the almost antique bridge, little churches and romantic hidden waterfalls.

The local guide will help you unravel some of the secrets, myths, legends and folklore stories from this area.

Take a trip through the nature and history of one of the most famous villages of Crete, where tradition ist still alive.