Tuesday we went to walk through the Gorge of Samaria. It’s the second busiest tourist attraction in Crete, so I was dreading the crowds, but it didn’t turn out too bad in the end. It was lots of other people walking, but most of the time we managed to stay either behind or in front of the bigger groups. It is almost impossible not to bump into anyone though, as there’s a quarter of a million people walking the gorge every year, between May and October (it’s closed in winter due to danger of falling rocks – there was still signs everywhere saying Great Danger, walk quickly!). The Samaria is the longest gorge in Europe with it’s 16km (we’ve heard anything between 12.8 and 18km, but I think 16km is the most common one I see around, so I’ll go with that lenght), so it’s not just a walk in the park (driest park you’ll ever see if so).
I was a little dissapointed at the level of challenge walking the Samaria. It was basically downhill the entire way, no climbing over rocks or sneaking around roots of fallen trees like the Richtis we did last week. So I would actually rather prefer to do it from the bottom and walk uphill, because I am not a big fan of downhill walking (neither are my knees, especially the right one after that silly running unjury a year and a half back) and it would be more challenging and interesting to walk it the other way. Apart from that you would then see the actual gate of the gorge (the smallest part, about three metres wide) after just an hour of walking and the rest would just be about getting up the 1230 altitude metres to get to the start (or the end I guess). But it was definitely beautiful and had some great views along the way. It was (of course) very dry, but still has lots and lots of plants growing. I have no idea how they survive or how they manage to grow out of the gorge walls. It’s made of rock!!
We walked the Samaria Gorge from top to bottom in five hours including a couple of breaks for a little food and about 100 stops to take pictures. We took the bus from Chania to Xyloskalo, walked down to Agia Roumeli and had a dip in the Libyan Sea while waiting for the ferry to leave at 5:30PM. The ferry went to Sfakia where the public buses leave from (and every other bus with organised tours, they all wait for the 5:30PM ferry and leave at the same time, so all the buses are snailing up through the narrow, curvy roads together) and jumped on the bus back to Chania. It took the whole day as the bus in the morning left Chania at 7:45AM and we arrived back at 8:30PM. A fair bit of transportation. No need to do it in one day, I’m sure staying a night in Agia Roumeli would be great, there was heaps of little hotels around the beach (speaking of the beach, it’s basically black stones and not sand so it’s very, very hot to step on! I recommend bringing thongs (what Aussies call Flip Flops) on your walk so you can wear them at the beach! But don’t wear thongs DURING the walk, that’s just plain stupid! We observed plenty of hurting hikers wearing thongs and other not very practical shoes.) and plenty of Tavernas to eat at.
It’s a great day out, just make sure you bring some food, wear good shoes and a hat, a water bottle (can be refilled during the walk), lots on sunscreen and make sure you’ve actually done some walking before. It’s not a very good idea starting a 16KM walk (downhill) on a 30 degree day, in a dry gorge with no previous hiking experience. If you choose to do so, don’t come complaining to me afterwards.
A great Something Every Day for my Tuesday. Yesterday I did lots of stretching, walking and swimming and today I want to do some sort of intervals somewhere. Just about to pack a beach bag and head off. What are you doing? Whatever it is, have a fabolous Thursday, do Something today that will benefit you tomorrow 🙂