Photos Zakros Gorge

Crete travel guide

Photos of Zakros Gorge

  • Ano Zakros
    Ano Zakros, a large village in East Crete, 38 kilometres south of Sitia. Here we start our hike to the Gorge of the Dead or Zakros Gorge.
  • traditional house in zakros
    An old traditional house in Zakros, its yard full of flowers. If you have time, walk around the narrow village streets to discover its pretty sights.
  • road to kato zakros photo
    We leave Zakros and walk along the road to Kato Zakros and its beach. We’ve decided to enter the gorge by the second entrance, 4 kilometres from Ano Zakros.
  • winter in crete, landscape with olive trees
    It’s mid-February and the whole of Crete is covered in a thick carpet of grass and yellow Bermuda buttercups, while olive trees are found almost everywhere on the island.
  • anemone photo
    In Crete the winters are mild and become milder the further east and south go you. Many wildflowers like this anemone bloom from late January onwards.
  • photo of signpost to zakros gorge
    This signpost is located at the point where we leave the tarmac road to enter Zakros Gorge. Don’t follow the dirt track behind the signpost, but the first one next to the bus shelter.
  • photo of zakros gorge or gorge of the dead in crete
    Having walked along a dirt track for a while, we come to Zakros Gorge and start climbing down.
  • walkers on the footpath down zakros gorge
    The path is clear and there’s no danger of getting lost.
  • photo of a tree on the side of the gorge
  • descending zakros gorge
    The descent takes about 10 minutes. The slope is steep and you have to be careful not to slip on the stones.
  • photo in the gorge
    The first hikers from our group have reached the bottom of the gorge and are waiting for the rest to catch up.
  • photo of cliffs in gorge of the dead, zakros, crete
    Above us rise the sheer sides of the gorge where vultures and hawks nest. Vultures are called “skares” in East Crete.
  • photo of the caves of the dead in zakros
    In the steep cliffs of the gorge are many caves, to which the ancient inhabitants of Zakros would laboriously raise their dead to bury them. This is why the gorge is known as the “Gorge of the Dead”.
  • river in zakros gorge
    In winter the water level in the gorge depends on recent rainfall. In summer, however, the riverbed is dry, making walking easier.
  • waterfall in the gorge
    Small waterfalls form in places, tiny but beautiful.
  • crossing the river
    There are no crossings from one bank to the other. You have to improvise by jumping from stone to stone.
  • crossing the river zakros
    A borrowed baton in one hand and a stick in the other, Maria tries to cross the river without wetting her shoes.
  • photo of a happy hiker
    The crossing over, there follows a bright grin of success.
  • vegetation in zakros gorge
    The vegetation in Zakros Gorge is so dense you can’t leave the path.
  • rock in the gorge
    In some places you may need to scramble over a rock, but it’s not too difficult.
  • path to kato zakros
    After the first kilometre, the path becomes easier and in some places you walk in the shade of the trees, a great relief in the hot summer months.
  • sophia photo
    Sophia with her pretty rucksack is only 11 years old, but she walks easily and sure-footedly along the path.
  • photo Aristolochia cretica or stivania toy lagou
    A strange plant attracts our attention. In Crete it’s called “ta stivania tou lagou”, or “hare’s boots”, because it looks a bit like hare fur. Its Latin name is Aristolochia cretica (Cretan Birthwort), endemic to Crete and Karpathos.
  • stone fountain in the gorge of the dead
    No, it’s not an ancient Minoan throne hidden in the bushes. If I remember right, it’s a stone fountain at a rest area in the gorge. We saw others too, but they were all dry.
  •  kato zakros entrance to the gorge
    The entrance to the gorge from Kato Zakros. We walked down it from Ano Zakros to Kato Zakros, but you can also go the other way.
  • kato zakros river
    The river widens near Kato Zakros and flows more slowly.
  • zakros gorge end
    Here the footpath ends, giving way to the dirt track to Kato Zakros and its beach.
  • zakros gorge map
    Map of the footpaths in Zakros area.
  • sheep crete
    A small flock of sheep in the fields around Kato Zakros, a common Cretan picture
  • old olive tree in crete
    An old olive tree which somehow seems to have split into four different boles. The older the olive tree, the stranger the shape of its trunk.
  • minoan palace of zakros
    The Kato Zakros archaeological site with the Minoan Palace of Zakros, which is much smaller than Knossos or Phaistos, but whose excavation produced many important finds.
  • zakros archaeological site
    The rainwater has formed little pools in the archaeological site.
  • hikers in a taverna in kato zakros
    All the hikers gather in the only taverna in Kato Zakros which is open in the winter. They are members of the “Friends of the Mountain and Sea” climbing club from Heraklion
  • kato zakros beach
    Straw umbrellas waiting to offer their shade to summer tourists on the beach of Kato Zakros
  • zakros-sitia coach
    Leaving wintery Zakros behind us, we board the coach to return to Sitia.
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The hike down Zakros Gorge or “Gorge of the Dead” took place in February 2010 with the “Friends of the Mountain and Sea” climbing club from Heraklion.

The conditions were wintery with quite a bit of water in the gorge, making walking difficult. It’s definitely much easier to cross the gorge in  summer, when the riverbed is dry.



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