The route goes from right to left
The upper reaches

Samaria Gorge
(10 miles, 4000' descent)
11th October 2014

The Samarian Gorge is the classic walk to do in Crete. We were there in October 2014, which is ideal for the temperature. Although the walk is 10 miles long, it seems much shorter since there is so much scenic interest. Walkers are required to buy a ticket at the start, and hand it in at the end, so the park rangers can be sure that there is nobody left in the gorge overnight. What makes the walk unusual is that on reaching the fishing village of Aghia Roumeli at the end, there is no road, and one has to take the ferry one hour in either an easterly or westerly direction to reach a road which connects to the rest of the island.

The middle section

After a cup of tea in the café at the top, we paid our 5 euro fee and headed off down the zig-zag path, passing mules used to transport any casualties. One mule had nasty looking sores from its harness. After an hour of continuous descent, we reached the bottom and followed the dry gorge through beautiful scented pine forests until we reached a confluence with another river coming in from the left. Shortly after, we reached the deserted Samarian Village at about the halfway point. Here we stopped for lunch, surrounded by Kri-Kri goats and a coal tit begging for food. The character of the gorge changed completely from here on. Now we were walking on the rocky flat bottom of the gorge itself with towering cliffs on either side and we were lucky to see a griffin vulture.

The lower reaches
The so-called "iron gates"
The ferry

A few miles later, after following the gorge's meanderings, we came to another picnic area and finished off the remains of our breakfast/lunch/tea. We didn't stay long since the wasps were showing too much interest in our oranges. After a short while we came to the famous "iron gates" where the gorge narrows to just 3 metres (so the guide books say, but it is more like 5 metres) and then the end of the gorge. We resisted beers and a shuttle bus and power-walked on to Aghia Roumeli and the boat.

The guide books describe this walk as "challenging" and "difficult". We found that, with a moderate level of fitness, the walk was nothing like as difficult as we were led to believe. Certainly, there is nothing "scary". There is a good path all the way. We would, however, highly recommend that you take adequate supplies of water, particularly in the summer.