Crete Pilgrimage 2016 - Day 33

Samaria Gorge

Cutting through the White Mountains south to the sea is the deep and narrow Samaria Gorge. In 1941 it was almost impassable, forming a refuge for some of the men who decided to evade capture after they were left behind in Sfakia. Today it is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site and is visited by thousands of people each year. It is reported to be the most visited location on Crete.

As part of our visit to Crete a few of us were determined to walk the 18km down the gorge to the sea at Agia Roumeli. We were taken by small coach from our hotel to the start high up in the White Mountains at Omalos at an altitude of 1250m. The first part of the walk is steep and very rough underfoot as the track is paved with irregular cobblestones. After a few kilometres you reach the bed of the river and the track starts to level out and becomes easier walking. Along the way there are natural springs that provide clean water to refill drink bottles. We began our walk at 9.15am and reached Samaria - the abandoned village - for lunch at 12.20pm, and arrived at the coast at 3.30pm, a total of 6 hours and 15 minutes.

The end of the road near Omalos in the White Mountains.
The last store before the Samaria Gorge.
Warnings in many languages
The start of the Gorge walk
The White Mountains
The mountains are rugged
The track heads downhill
It is steep and rough, despite the cobblestones.
Looking up into the White Mountains.
Lookout point.
Warning - Great Danger Walk Quickly.
Wire netting covers the track in case of rock falls
Passing some of the fallen rocks
Arriving at the first watering hole
Emergency evacuation service - not local taxi service
The path goes ever downwards
The 2 Kilometre peg...
...and on the reverse it reminds you there are 11 km still to go...
The next rest area
A welcome break.
The people who stop here have time on their hands...
The river did not do this.
Its a long way to walk just to read a book!
Finally we reach the river bed..
and can look up to the White Mountains.
Another rest stop.
Cypresses are unique to this gorge.
and some of them are very old.
This plant looks a bit odd....
It is one of the carrion flowers that smells of rotting flesk...!
I don't think the river put these stones in here.
A Cypress growing out of the rock.
This sign means the same in any language.
We were warned about the local goats...
but did not expect to see one.
The river starts to widen out.
The bridge across to Samaria Village and lunch!
Looking upstream from the bridge.
Looking downstream
The lunch stop at Samaria
Remains of the houses at Samaria
Fire is a major risk in summer. One of many small "fire stations" on the walk.
The track is now much flatter.
Example of the limestone.
Approaching the narrow part of the gorge and the "Gates of Iron".
10 km mark - 3 to go to the end of the gorge.
Another hardy Cypress.
Crossing a large rock avalance area
The last rest area
A small bird resting here as well.
Another pack horse at work.
Entering the Gates of Samaria.
Lookin back upstream.
And out the other side
Walking through the oleander bushes.
Crossing the river on bridges...
and on stepping stones.
Past the last of the oleander bushes..
And out through the checkpoint..
Where we found a waiting beer... or two..
at the small cafe.
You mean to say there is more walking yet???.
Some people took the bus.
But most people walked the last 3 km through the small village.
down the valley.
through more oleanders
until the coast was in sight.
The final destination.
The south coast of Crete.
A ferry lay in wait - but it was not our one.
Tetrapods protecting the beach
It was blowing a gale on the coast
but a few hardy people braved the waves.
Part of Agia Romeli
Souvenir shops...
and trattoria.
Late in the afternoon and the crowds assembled.
Our ferry arrived...
And pulled into the jetty.
The crowd rushed aboard
only to find that many of them were on the wrong ferry.
Those left behind.
Then we were clear of the jetty.
Samaria Gorge from the ferry.
Most were tired and footsore.
We travelled east towards Sfakia in the last of the sunshine.
We called in to the small village of Loutro.
and on to Sfakia in the distance.
Approaching Sfakia.
Climbing the last hill .
to the waiting buses.

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Last updated: 12/06/2017