Samaria Gorge National Park

Samaria Gorge National Park

Samaria Gorge National Park.

It’s been years that I wanted to hike in Samaria Gorge but I couldn’t find a friend to join me. Either they had already been there or they weren’t interested in hiking for so many hours (it usually takes 5-7 hours).

I was curious to see how it is to hike in one of the longest and most impressive gorges of Europe. (The second in Europe, as I recently discovered that the longest gorge in Europe is  Verdon Gorge in France).

Samaria Gorge is in the regional unit of Chania, it is 16 km long and since 1962, it is a National Park of Greece and the only one in Crete. In the gorge, there is a variety of several rare endemic species as well as many species of flowers and birds.

Therefore, some days ago, I decided to hike on my own. Well… not exactly on my own, as I booked my tickets with a tourist operator in Chania that provide organized tours to the Gorge.

The journey started at 06:10 in the morning from Chania. The first person I met was Christoforos, our tour guide. Christoforos is a passionate hiker and very friendly. He also keeps a very interesting blog about hiking in Crete and not only. You may visit it here. It is in Greek but you can use a translator.  Throughout our journey in the gorge, he was helpful to all of us. He was making you feel you already have a friend you know from years. Personally, I thank him a lot, as I informed him that I may feel nausea, so he arranged for me to sit in the front seat.

On the bus, I met Young, Celine and Wendy. Upon our arrival to Lefka Ori (White Mountains) and more in particular at Xyloskalo on the Omalos Plateau (it takes about one hour), we had a short stop for breakfast. By that time, (7:30), the weather was somehow cold, but this lasted for only 30 minutes. We decided to have a coffee with my new friends before start hiking together in the Gorge.

At 08:00 we started descending through the path, at an altitude of 1250 meters. From the beginning, we were all impressed by the stunning natural beauty of the Gorge and the White Mountains. The scenery changes through your trip in the Gorge, but it always keeps you amazed.

The first three kilometers of the path are the most difficult ones as the path is very steep with rocks and the stones can be slippery enough. So it is recommended to start slowly and lean on the wooden fence, so to avoid any accidents.  

On our way we admired the forests of huge pine and cypress trees, we met the famous inhabitants, the Cretan wild goats Kri Kri (they are very friendly and adorable), the beautiful old village of Samaria and we walked through the most narrow passage of the Gorge. This famous narrow passage is called “The Gates” and the distance between the sides are 4 meters and the vertical height is almost 300 meters.

Along the way, you will find many rest areas, with water springs and restrooms. On the backside of your ticket, you will find a printed map of the path and the various rest areas etc.

Here is a map I created, with the mean distances and mean time between rest areas, as well as other useful information:

When we arrived at the exit, (around 14:30) we stopped for a refreshing drink in the coffee house and then we decided to take the mini bus to Agia Roumeli. It takes only 3 minutes by bus.

Agia Roumeli is a beautiful small fishing village with many restaurants and accommodations. We decided to rest on the beach until 5:30 when our boat was leaving from there to Sougia.

The trip to Sougia lasted one hour. I was lucky enough to already have some battery on my mobile so I snapped the last pictures of the beautiful colour of the water and the beaches.

After we disembarked the ferry in Sougia our bus was waiting for our return back to Chania.

Walking in a rough terrain for 6-7 hours, isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t say it’s difficult either. Many tourists go down the gorge daily as long as they do not have any serious medical problems. It is well signposted and the most walked footpath in Greece, but it is quite stony and also steep and slippery at times. You will certainly feel your legs the next days if you are not used in this type of exercise.

What I had with me:

Trekking shoes. Good trekking shoes are recommended. I would say they must be half size up and laces have to be tied too tightly so that you avoid hurting your toes as you are going down the gorge.

A bottle of water. No need to carry more than one, as there is plenty of water running from the gorge’s springs all along the way.

Some snack to feel me up on my way. You will need to eat something during your journey through the gorge as your journey will last from 6 to 7 hours and there is no food inside the gorge.

Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Especially after the village of Samaria, the path can be quite hot.

Mobile, power bank. 

Beach Towel. I was also wearing my swimming suit and unfortunately, I forgot my flip-flops, as I needed them for the beach. (The sand was really hot!)

Anti-nausea tablets for the bus and the boat.

Other useful information:

The National Park opens yearly from 1st May until 15th October and the visiting hours are from 07:00-15:00 daily.

The Gorge is 13.2 kilometers long. Another 2.7 kilometers are required to reach Agia Roumeli on the shores of the Libyan Sea.

Drink water regularly.

The next day there was muscle pain and soreness, but I managed to walk as usual. The only small difficulty I had, was going down the stairs. (It was also funny, I guess!)

So, was it worth hiking in Samaria Gorge? To me, yes. Not only did I have the chance to experience a beautiful scenery and a new activity, but I also had the chance to meet new friends! I would recommend to anyone who is adventurous, curious and likes to experience new things.

I am wondering where my next hiking experience will be…  

Until next time! ♥