Samaria Gorge

Samaria gorge was initially not on my bucket list when I came to Crete since I don’t have the best shoes and it is one of the longest gorges in Europe, a 16 km hike. I have never walked this much in my life. Thus, I was not sure if I will be up for it. Yet all kinds of people make it, meaning also not very active or sporty. So when I got the chance to join our company’s guided tour I just took it.

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge

Woke up 5 AM. Oooh how early it was and still dark. And off I went to catch the bus at 6.15 AM. I had not done a guided tour for a long while. Last time I did, I was the guide. It was nice to listen to some info about the gorge and some useful tips too. Apparently, this 16 km hike equals to 32 km walk on a fine asphalt.

The bus drive to Samaria was amazing. The sunrise between the mountains was absolutely wonderful and made me immediately forget about the lack of sleep. First, we arrived at a small plateau Omalos to have breakfast and then continued to the entrance. Most people take between 5 to 6 hours to walk the gorge. These are people who do want to enjoy it and have a nice walk with taking enough time for photos. I also noticed some people with their proper hiking shoes just running through the gorge. You will miss all the beauty of it.

The start was absolutely beautiful. The views from high above just breathtaking. We were about 1250 meters above the sea level at the start but it did not feel so high. Surrounded by impressive mountains, I started my hike and I have to admit the start was pretty difficult. The rocks were quite slippery and the path steep downhill. After a while, I got into a comfortable pace and just kept walking and occasionally making stops for photos.

Throughout the hike, there are resting areas with fresh water from the mountains and toilets. Our guide recommended not to take too long breaks while it will make you lazy and it will be more difficult to continue the walk. Thus, I just had quick bites for energy and continued. When half of the hike was done, there was a larger resting area at the village of Samaria. There I took a break to eat while a goat started to bother me and eventually forced me to share my lunch. He was cute and it was difficult to refuse plus he was really pushy. You are not actually allowed to feed the animals there but this goat was kind of harassing me. Don’t worry I only had healthy food.

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge

The first half of the hike was done in a little less than three hours but 8km was still left to go. The guide told us that he thinks the other half of the hike is more beautiful and I must say I agree. This is when you had already arrived at the lower part of the canyons and started to feel like a teeny tiny insect in the middle of them. That feeling was awesome, especially when I looked up and saw how high the canyons were. This made me feel so small. It was also a moment of realization of how high up the hike actually had started.

The other half was also easier to walk because it was no longer steep and was less rocky and slippery. I did fall once during my walk but did not get hurt. After going through the path, I arrived at the final resting area. It was smooth and there were no rocks around me but somehow I managed to sprain my ankle just there. Out of all the possibilities, I managed to hurt myself at the least dangerous spot.

Luckily, it was nearly the end. Unfortunately, the end felt never-ending. The last part was actually the worst part of the hike. This was after the exit when there was 3 km of normal road left to go to the village of Agia Roumeli and the beach. I was limping and could not wait for it to finish and during that part my legs started to protest, indicating that they do not want to serve me anymore for what I had just made them go through.

After having walked those last three kilometers, I arrived at the beach. I was starving, sweaty and my feet officially died. I just jumped into the water which was a great reward and headed quickly to eat at one of the taverns there. Having finished my meal I felt completely exhausted but also proud that I had done it. I did it in a little over 5 and a half hours and I did not die or get a massive injury. Yay! In case something happens there are mules in the gorge to get you out of there or if you are lazy you can also pay the mules to get you out.

At the village, I could immediately spot which people had made the Samaria hike because they all barely walked. Some people did a different tour, Samaria Easy, by just visiting the end of the gorge which is not so difficult. You can choose how far you want to go and just head back when it is too much for you. While in the long way you have no choice but to complete it.

At last, it was time to get the boat back. The village of Agia Roumeli is only accessible by foot, hiking through the gorge, or by boat. Thus, we had to take a boat trip to another village, Hora Sfakion, where the bus was waiting for us. The boat ride was an awesome ending to the day. Since I work for this company our guide took me to the captain’s bridge and I got to enjoy the boat ride from VIP front seats. We passed a beautiful village of Loutro, where the color of the water is amazing, slightly turquoise. This village has no streets. Just one row of houses. Finally, arriving at Hora Sfakion, we caught our bus and the ride back could start.

Loutro

The next morning I woke up and wanted to switch sides. I had slept the whole night on my back for some reason. Usually, I twist and turn constantly and never sleep on my back. When trying to turn, my muscles did not function and the pain was crazy. Later, when my muscles started to slowly wake up I was able to walk again. Walked like a weirdo but at least I could manage to complete my usual daily tasks. If you ever wish to complete the Samaria hike expect that the next day won’t be fun. Still worth it!

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Samaria Gorge

  1. I am dreaming of going to Crete! I actually nearly went in 2006, and changed my plans last minute and moved to the UK instead. These Gorges looks stunning, what a hike, so worth it! One more reason to make sure I go one day 😀

  2. This looks a beautiful and challenging hike. I’m visiting Greece soon and if I go to Crete I’ll look into the hike, I need the exercise! I wonder how cold it is up there in winter?

    1. In winter the gorge is unfortunately closed. Due to the rain, it is dangerous and there are many falling rocks. Some smaller gorges might be open, though.

  3. OMG! This is breath taking and would love to hike here. Seriously, the Samaria gorge looks stunning and I would consider going to Crete just for this. 🙂

    1. It is breathtaking and worth visiting! I recommend though not during the high season (July, August) when it’s extremely hot.

  4. A nice summary Agnes and beautiful photos! As a Greek living in Germany I have travelled Greece countless of times (mostly with my parents as a kid and later as a teenager) – I think during my twenty-somethings I started getting more interested in countries outside of Europe… Yet, from all the places of Greece, imho… Crete is the most stunning one… and not only because the climate is far more fair than on the main land 😉 . Samaria gorge is definitely at attraction folks visiting crete SHOULD visit. Sure, as you mentioned it, it isn’t easy… but it sure is rewarding with some great sights (most hikes are this way right? 😀 ). I’d say folks can easily combine this having a round-trip to the western part of the island for Paleochora, Elafonisi, Agia Sofia Cave, Gramvousa/Balos (old castro & shipwreck), Agia Triada monastery & Chania…

    1. Great to hear from a Greek! Yes indeed, there are many absolutely stunning places in the western part of Crete which are a must see too. A beach trip after the gorge is rewarding as well 🙂

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