Agia Eirini Gorge
Crete Hiking

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Agia Eirini Gorge Hiking in Western Crete

 

map of hania, 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.

Agia Eirini in Sougia, Crete

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.

Agia Eirini in Sougia, Crete

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.

Agia Irini in Sougia, Crete

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.

Agia Eirini in Sougia, Crete

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 fresh water.

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, Crete

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



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