Crete, with its amazing beaches and pristine gorges, is known as the “Great Island”! This fabulous experience starts in Chania, towards the White Mountains, a unique hiking holiday in Greece!
Birthplace of Zeus and cradle of Europe’s earliest civilization, the Minoan civilization- it offers a variety of mountains with dozens of peaks over 2000m of altitude. There are few places in the world that are able to combine a perfect climate with high and impressive mountains so close to the sea.
This fabulous experience starts in Chania, probably the most charming city of Crete, towards the White Mountains (“Lefka Ori”). Their name derives from the shining bleached limestone during summer and the rich snow cover in winter. Our Cretan adventure for the following days will take us through ancient paths and shepherd trails, following the southern coastline, climb to summits and submerge to the depths of some of the most interesting gorges of the island, including the famous Samaria gorge! What better than heading on a hot summer day down to the mouth of a gorge, where we will hike shaded from the sun’s ferocity and reward ourselves with a swim at the end!
Some days are a full day of hiking; others involve exploring ruins, villages, and towns on foot. It includes walking tours in cities and villages, and five days with moderate hikes of 3-7 hours, including one summit hike with elevation gains and losses of up to 3,300 feet.
Although the paths are quite well-kept the terrain in Greece tends to be very stony and rocky, especially during the gorge-walking. You will mostly be walking on unsurfaced tracks, footpaths, mountain trails and on some tarmac roads. You should also be prepared for some steep ascents and descents.
Good physical condition, some hiking experience.
With the White Mountains as a background, the lively harbor, its historical remains, busy market and nearby beaches, Chania enjoys a perfect setting! We will meet in the afternoon at our hotel for a briefing and have our first dinner together in a traditional “taverna”, savoring the delicacies of the world famous Cretan cuisine.
Overnight in Chania (D)
After our mighty breakfast, we will enter the White Mountains through the narrow gorge of Agia Irini. Areas of humidity and shade sustain an amazing variety of plants with gigantic ancient plane trees gracing a large clearing halfway up. We will end today’s hike at Agia Irini village, from where we will get transferred to Omalos plateau. In the heart of Omalos, at an altitude of more than 1000m, we will enjoy the evening breeze listening to the jingling of the occasional goat’s bells. Hiking in Greece is just amazing! Overnight in Omalos (B,L,D)
Hiking Duration: 3h 30min / Hiking distance: 7km
Driving: From Chania to the entrance of the gorge 70km, 1h 30min / from Agia Irini village to Omalos: 25min
Take a deep breath of the fresh mountain air and gear up for today’s high ascent. We will climb Mt. Gigilos, the legendary peak overlooking Samaria with its 2080m high summit. Its north face, a near vertical slope of solid rock will not hold us back, since we will be following the path round the back in order to reach the summit with only a few scrambling. Lammergeiers, the biggest birds in Europe, coming from Samaria gorge, glide past this cliff top, so be ready to encounter their beauty and magnificence!
Overnight in Omalos (B,L,D)
Hiking Duration: 6 Hours / Hiking distance: 9km
What a great hiking day lies ahead of us today, the Samaria gorge!
It is the longest one in Europe, an area of stunning and unparalleled natural beauty. Rare flora and fauna have survived in this area and are protected. The mountains that have formed it are wild, high and impressive. One will pass through forests of ancient cypresses and pines and along dribbling streams! The path starts from Xyloskalo (near Omalos) in the White Mountains at an altitude of 1230 meters and comes after a 16km to the welcoming resort of Agia Roumeli, with its much appreciated fine pebbled beach and sparkling sea, in which we will stay for the next two days.
Overnight in Agia Roumeli (B,L,D)
Hiking Duration: 6h 30min / Hiking distance: 16km
At the location of Agia Roumeli once stood the religious center of Tarra. A church was built many centuries later named Agia Roumeli and that was the name given the village as well. In our days the picturesque village, is the perfect hideaway and best spot to rest before continuing our adventure. Great hiking idea for today, is the castle that was was built during the Ottoman times on a hill overlooking the village. Overnight in Agia Roumeli (B,L,D)
Hiking Duration: 2hours / Hiking distance: 4km
What better way to start our day with a morning swim! Then put on our hiking shoes again to head towards the mountains, with awe-inspiring views on our way, at one of the best preserved coastlines in all of Europe. A cozy guesthouse in Agios Ioannis, a village well hidden in the forest with only 15 inhabitants, welcomes us today! Optional evening hike (if you are up to it!) to the “Papakefala” summit, where we can enjoy the tranquil sunset and nature’s greatness!
Overnight in Agios Ioannis (B,L,D)
Hiking Duration: 4h 30min / Hiking distance:10km
Wake up after a long and restful sleep in our quiet hideaway, breakfast and off we go! From Agios Ioannis we will head down to the Aradena gorge where the rocky riverbed leads to an extremely narrow gap between sheer walls almost all the way down, enabling us to experience a brilliant and impressive hiking day! Passing the beach of Marmara we’ll follow the coastal path, taking us to the picturesque harbor of Loutro. A short ferry ride to Sfakia town and from there we will drive to Chania city for our farewell dinner. Overnight in Chania (B,L,D)
Hiking Duration: 5 Hours / Hiking distance: 12km
Driving from: Chora Sfakion to Chania 70km, 2 Hours
End of services after your mighty breakfast and your Greek coffee! (B)
See you again!
Price is based on a minimum attendance of 4 people.
Please consider taking along the following items on your trip. This is not a fixed list, but more of a guideline, so feel free to add and remove items as you see fit.
Greece has a temperate climate. Base your clothing on the “layering system”, if it is hot you can “peel off” layers quickly, if it is cooler and windy you can quickly “dress up”.
The lighter you travel, the easier you travel. Use your best judgment and pack as lightly as possible. You will appreciate light luggage towards the end of your trip.