Agia Eirini Gorge Hiking in Western Crete
Crete is famous for its gorges and the Samaria gorge is the most famous
one. Each of Crete's many gorges has its own beauty and its own character.
West of Samaria gorge is the gorge of Agia Eirini, not so popular and
because of this also not so busy- better for the ones who have the chance
to walk in it. This gorge lies southwest of Hania and to get there you
follow the road that leads to Omalos (the entrance of Samaria gorge).
At the 12th km by the crossroad you turn right following the road towards
Sougia, driving first through he village of Alikianos. Here is a beautiful,
fertile area full of orange groves, where in April and May you can't get
enough of the aroma of their blossoms. Then comes a long and winding road
through beautiful small villages full of chest-nut and plane trees. At
the 38th km you reach the highest point of this journey from where you
can see both the southern and the northern coast of the island.
Soon after this you reach the village of Agia Eirini and the entrance
of the gorge. It takes altogether 1 hr. 10 min. approxi-mately to
reach the entrance coming form Hania. Right at the entrance there
is a big poster showing the most important points of the walk. It
is seven km long and it takes about three hours to walk through
it but it is well worth it and deeply rewarding.
As soon as you leave the main road and you start walking towards
the riv-erbed there is a small cafe where you can enjoy a cup of
coffee in the shade of beautiful old olive trees. A few meters past
the cafe you reach the riverbed where there is usually water until
the end of April and there you find the first mile (Kilometer)-stone.
You will see such at every km so that you always have an idea where
you are and how much you still have ahead of you.
You see high mountains on both sides of the gorge. Vegetation
is extremely rich and consists of plane trees, pine and cypress
trees, many different herbs in the rocks left and right and aro-matic
spices growing wild next to the pathway.
The path goes uphill and then downhill and at the 2nd km you reach
a nice picnic area in the shade of plane trees where there is a
spring with drinkable water and the first restrooms.
On the way to this picnic area you see huge boulders on the right.
They rolled from the mountains thousands of years ago and in the
springtime you may stop and admire the wonderful water-falls. The
gorge becomes narrower or wider all the time and you have to stop
every now and then and enjoy the sunlight shining through the foliage
of the trees.
In the middle of the gorge there is a second picnic area with
fresh water and restrooms and after this there is one more spring
on the way.
The gorge becomes quite narrow and you have to walk on the riverbed
(pebbles and rocks). There comes a point also where in spring you
will have to take your shoes off and walk through the water.
As soon as you reach the end of the gorge you can rest for a while
at a very nice cafe that opened recently. Its owner built that with
a lot of love and care and electricity is provided by solar energy.
From there begins a track along the dry riverbed, which after a
while comes out on the main road that leads to Sougia.
Sougia is a small village on the south coast with a few
houses and a few tavernas where you may enjoy swimming in the deep
blue, crystal clear water. Do not expect a sandy beach in Sougia though. There
are quite a few pebbles but if you dig a hole in them you will find
To complete this nice fulfilling sensation after the beautiful
walk, it would be great to stay overnight and enjoy the excellent
food in the little tavernas (for example "Galini" or "Polyfimos").
When the night comes, try to spend some time on the beach away
from the lights. You will find out that you are able to observe
every little star in the clear sky.
Sougia on a very windy day
For the walk you need walking boots, something to eat (you can buy a
sandwich at the cafe by the entrance of the gorge) and a small bottle
of water that you can refill every now and then at the springs. There
is a bus from Hania to Sougia every day at 13:30 pm and it returns from
Sougia to Hania at 07:00 am.
Article by Sevastianna Souki