Hiking on Mountain Idi or Ida or Psiloritis in Crete
Mt Ida is the highest mountain of Crete: 2456 m (8058ft), just
3 m higher than Pachnes, the higher summit of Lefka Ori.
There are 5 summits in Psiloritis: Timios Stavros (Holy Cross):
2456m, Agathias: 2424m, Stolistra: 2325m, Voulomenou:
2267m and Koussakas: 2209m.
Mt Ida, history and mythology
on the summit of Mt Ida
Mt Ida used to be a holy mountain in Minoan Crete and many myths were
strongly attached to it. In Idaion Antron (a big cave at 1495 m,
15min walk from Nida Plateau) Zeus was brought up by Kourites and the nymph Amaltheia. In the woods of Psiloritis also lived Daktyloi,
a group of good demons.
In Christian years there was a stone-made church
built on top of Psiloritis, the church of the Holy Cross. On September
14th, the day of the Holy Cross, there is a celebration on the summit
of Timios Stavros (Ida). On the previous day people from all over Crete
walk all the way to the top together with a priest and spend the night
there; next morning (September 14th) they join the ceremony inside the
||inside the chapel of Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) on Mt
||repairing shelters for over-night stay on the summit
of Mt Ida
Mt Ida, the landscape
Minoan Crete used to be a wooded place, so was Mt Ida. Today small parts
of these woods still exist close to Kouroutes, Kamares, Vorizia and Zaros villages on the south flanks of Ida.
The main part of the mountain is
a rocky place with no trees at all and there are no plants above 2000m.
There is no water either. As a result, trekking on Ida in summer time
is an exhausting experience due to the high temperatures and the lack
of any shadow and water.
Mt ida, trekking route
There are 4-5 different routes to the summit of Mt Ida, the
easier one being from Nida Plateau (1412 m).
You must drive to Anogia village and then to Nida plateau (1hr 30 min
from Heraklion) and park your car at the restaurant. There is only this
building on the plateau so you can't miss it. Walking starts here, along
the dirt track leading to Idaion antron.
minutes before the cave you will notice a yellow post at your left;
it is one of the posts which mark the E4-Paneuropean path. There are such
posts all the way to the top, as well as red dots painted on rocks
and a few piles of small stones on top of rocks. The path is easy
to see and it is really difficult to get lost.
For the first couple of
hours you walk upwards but then you have to descend to Akollita Plateau and finally ascend the rest of the way up. In May or early June there
is still going to be snow on the summit.
Mt Ida trekking, tips and equipment
A hat and sun-lotion are absolutely necessary as well as 2-3
litres of water.
Good trekking boots are essential together with 2 pairs
of socks, as the ground is covered with sharp stones and blistered feet
are very usual.
The time you will need depends on how fit you are; it
varies from 3-6 hours to the top and 2-4 hours back.
It's better to start
walking early in the morning so that you have plenty of time if
something happens; it also is less hot at that time.
The view from the top of Ida is really magnificent (if there are no
clouds); you are able to see Heraklion and Aegean Sea to the north, Lefka
Ori to the west and the plain of Messara and Libyan Sea to the south.
There is no view to the east, as the
summit of Agathias stands in the way.
If you plan to spend a night on
top then you are going to need some warm clothes and a good sleeping-bag;
the temperature at night is low and, if there is a strong wind, then it
is probably going to be freezing.