Explore the White Mountains and the gorges of West Crete
Crete, the largest and most mountainous of the Greek islands, is the cradle of Europe's earliest civilization and the land where ancient myth and modern reality blend seamlessly against a backdrop of outstanding natural beauty.
Our 8-day West Crete hiking trip, explores the southwest coast of Crete, with its spectacular White Mountains, the deep gorges and coastal trails that lead us to charming fishing villages and quite beaches, accessible only by boat.
Starting from Chania with its picturesque Venetian port we will depart for the village of Agia Irini and enjoy a picnic lunch in its quite gorge before emerging at the crystal clear waters of Mediterranean Sea . Follow ancient paths to reach the second Roman city in Crete , visiting the temple of God Asklipios and exploring the ruins from Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine period.
Ascending well-maintained trails we will reach the summit of Mountain Gingilos (2080m), for stunning views to Omalos plateau, the White Mountains and the Samaria gorge - Europe's largest gorge, that offers us one of the most rewarding walks through a spectacular botanic garden, the home of the wild goats (Kri-kri) and griffon vultures.
Our superb coastal walk passes by the picturesque St Paul 's chapel and the azure blue waters of Marmara beach to end up at the white-blue washed houses of the charming village of Loutro .
Relax in Loutro or hike to Anopolis - one of the most "authentic" villages of Crete -, cross the Aradaina gorge with its pink oleanders and drink fresh water from the "Sweet water beach".
West Crete 8-day hiking tour - Itinerary
Highlights include: Samaria gorge (longest in Europe) Agia Irini gorge and Aradaina gorge , the ancient city Lissos (Ruins from Hellenistic, Roman Byzantine period), ascent of Mt. Gigilos (2080m) with spectacular view, crystal-clear beaches to swim, coastal walks and picturesque fishing villages .
DAY 1: Transfer to the hotel in Chania city.
In the evening we will have a brief presentation of the whole trip and will continue with a dinner at a traditional tavern. Welcome to the gastronomic reality of the authentic Cretan cuisine! (Overnight in Chania)
DAY 2 (4-5hrs walk): After breakfast we depart for the village of Agia Irini in Chania area and we walk through Agia Irini gorge to Sougia. This gorge provides a nice and quiet path next to a stream. A picnic lunch will be offered while in the gorge. Sougia is a beautiful village on the southern coast of Crete where we will have the opportunity to enjoy a swim in the crystal-clear waters of Mediterranean Sea. (Overnight in Sougia)
DAY 3 (3-4hrs walk): Starting from the small port of Sougia, we will cross the beautiful gorge of Selinou and following the European path E4 we reach the ancient city of Lissos, an important center of hydrotherapy in ancient years which flourished in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine era. Here we visit a well-preserved temple with mosaic floor dedicated to the God of medicine Asklipios and we will have much to admire by making a small loop around the city. We refresh ourselves in the cove and we return to Sougia. (Overnight in Sougia)
DAY 4 (5-6hrs walk): Our mini-bus brings us to the plateau of Omalos from where we climb mountain Gingilos (2080 m). This is where the wild goats of Crete (Kri-kri) live as well as some of the most rare and highly threatened with extinction wild birds of Europe, such as the griffon vulture and the lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus). Towards the peak there are some points that we may use our hands to climb (easy scramble, nothing technical). The summit provides spectacular views in all directions.
We descend by the same route and we spend the night at a family owned hotel in Omalos plateau. (Overnight in Omalos)
DAY 5 (6 hrs walk): A short minibus drive takes us to Xiloscalo, the entrance of Samaria gorge, which is the largest gorge in Europe and one of the most beautiful that nature can provide. We walk on a good path in shady pine forest and beside a melodic stream. We reach the small village of Agia Roumeli, where we can relax and enjoy a swim. (Overnight in Agia Roumeli)
DAY 6 (6 hrs walk): We continue our walk close the Mediterranean Sea (coastal path). We pass the picturesque St Paul's chapel, which was built on the sand next to the sea. After a needed-refreshing break at the "Marmara" beach, we arrive at the small port of Loutro. (Overnight in Loutro)
DAY 7 (6-7hrs walk): Ascend the ancient path until Anopolis village, a historic area from where the revolution against the Turks began in 1866. Here we see "authentic" Cretans with their traditional costumes that "take us back in time, to other centuries". From Anopolis we will cross Aradena gorge (very beautiful and slightly more difficult than the previous gorges). On the way back to Loutro we can swim in the crystal waters of "Marmara" beach. (Overnight in Loutro)
DAY 8 (2 hrs): For the last day there are two optional ways to reach the village of Hora Sfakion (or Sfakia), where our mini-bus will return us back to Chania. Either 2 hours hike by taking the coastal path that crosses "Sweet water beach" (there are many fresh water springs, coming out of the pebble beach), or a 15 minutes boat-ride from Loutro to Sfakia. Our trips ends at Chania and depending on the departure time we are free to shop and relax.
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