Samaria Gorge

Crete travel guide

Samaria Gorge Pictures

  • Samaria Gorge
    On the road from Chania to the Omalos Plateau and the Samaria Gorge, you pass through the village of Lakki, one of the prettiest villages in Crete, built in terraces on a green hill, and with a history going back to the Byzantine period.
  • Omalos plateau
    A few kilometres on we reach the Omalos Plateau, 1050 metres above sea level. On Omalos, which covers an area of 25 square kilometres, you will find restaurants and small hotels open all year round.
  • Samaria Gorge entrance
    The entrance to the Samaria Gorge, or Xyloskalo (“wooden stairs”) as it is locally known. The mountain with the grey rocks is Mt Gigilos, rising 2080 metres above Samaria. Gigilos means “rotten”, and the mountain was named for its rotten rocks.
  • Samaria  Gorge entrance
    Xyloskalo is 1227 metres above sea level. Here you will buy your ticket to enter the gorge.
  • mountain gigilos
    Directly opposite Xyloskalo rises the imposing Mt Gigilos with its sheer sides, where some snow may still remain in sunless crevices in June. The cliffs of Gigilos are popular with climbers even when covered with snow and ice (ice climbing).
  • Picture of Samaria Gorge
    The descent into the gorge begins and we go down the snaking path with the steps.
  • steps in the beginning of the gorge
    The steps make the descent easier and safer. However, at many points the stones have been worn smooth by constant use, and it’s best to wear appropriate, non-slip shoes that support the foot properly.
  • Samaria Gorge trees
    The first few kilometres down the gorge are pleasant, in the shade of tall pines and cypresses.
  • Samaria landscape, crete
    Samaria is green and totally unlike the arid, desert landscapes of southeast Crete. The images in Samaria are like a journey many centuries back in time, when the whole of Crete was covered in tall trees.
  • Samaria Gorge water sping
    All along the route are springs with cold, clear drinking water, so you don’t need to carry too much with you. A small bottle which you can refill occasionally is enough.
  • Samaria Gorge
    There are also toilets at many points on the route.
  • Samaria Gorge beauty
    Nature generously provides beautiful pictures which obey no rules. For instance, this dead tree trunk fallen on the ground still has an enchanting shape and texture.
  • Samaria Gorge: tree trunk in Smaria Gorge
    Another unusually beautiful tree.
  • Samaria Gorge river
    Walking in Samaria you will often see the stream that flows through the gorge.
  • Agios Nikolaos area
    The scenery at Agios Nikolaos, the place where most people make their first stop.
  • church of Agios Nikolaos
    The tiny church of Agios Nikolaos is built on the ruins of an ancient temple of Apollo. It is thought that the ancient city of Kaino stood somewhere in the area.
  • tall cypress tree in samaria
    An ancient cypress tree next to Agios Nikolaos. This may be the largest and oldest tree you will see in Samaria, and people look tiny next to it.
  • pile of stones that indicated the path in samaria gorge
    A pile of stones marking the path through the gorge. You will see lots of these along the route.
  • Samaria Gorge  hiking
    The path continues through the forest. If only all the paths in Crete enjoyed this wonderful shade and the cool, pine-scented air.
  • samaria village
    Houses in the village of Samaria, in the heart of the gorge. People lived here for thousands of years but the village was abandoned in 1962, when Samaria was declared a National Park.
  • village of samaria
    Enjoying a revitalising stop at Samaria village. This is where the park wardens live today.
  • wild goats kri kri
    Two small wild goats, the famous “kri-kri”. The ones living here are used to people and you will often see them among the village houses.
  • historical building in Samaria
    The Samaria surgery is housed in a simple building with a long history. In May 1941 the Greek Government, including Prime Minister Emmanuel Tsouderos and King George II and his retinue, stayed here until they could leave secretly for Egypt. In this house was drawn up the last government decree to the people of Greece issued on Greek soil, calling for the struggle against the German invaders to continue.
  • houses in the gorge
    Ruined houses in the gorge.
  • tree growing on rock
    The amazing power of nature: a tree growing on solid rock.
  • picture of the gorge
    After the village comes the end of the long descent from Xyloskalo. From here on the path is less steep but the walls start to close in and you get the definite impression that you are indeed in the largest gorge in Europe
  • mules in samaria
    Mules are used in Samaria to carry both equipment and people injured on the way (usually sprained ankles), who can’t walk the rest of the route.
  • plane trees in Samaria
    Plane trees grow on the banks of the stream that foams down the gorge, especially in May and early June. If you come in July and August the water level is much lower.
  • iron gates
    The famous Iron Gates (Sideroportes), the narrowest point of the gorge, only 3 metres wide.
  • iron gates
    Crossing the little bridge to go through the Iron Gates.
  • iron gates
    The Iron Gates from the other side.
  • crete geological history
    The whole geological history of Crete is imprinted on the rocks of the gorge.
  • the last part of samaria Gorge
    Once we are through the Iron Gates the gorge opens out and the scenery loses its wildness.
  • ticket control at the end of samaria gorge
    The ticket check for those leaving the gorge marks the end of the Samaria National Park.
  • man from sfakia area with black clothes
    A park warden from Sfakia checks tickets. His black clothing is the characteristic costume of Sfakia men. The ticket check is to ensure that nobody has stayed behind in the gorge, either on purpose or due to an accident.
  • snack bars at the exit from the gorge
    Next to the ticket control point are snack bars offering soft drinks and juice.
  •  samaria river
    It was water that carved the Samaria Gorge, dissolving the limestone rocks. The gorge still gets deeper year by year, as you can see at this point, where a smaller gorge is being formed inside the older and larger one.
  • water deepens the gorge
    The foaming water rushes ceaselessly through, dissolving the rocks in its path.
  • Samaria Gorge exit
    The exit from the Samaria Gorge seen from on high, from the fortress above Agia Roumeli.
  • samaria gorge from high above
    Another shot of the area at the exit from the gorge. Agia Roumeli, the end of the route, is only a short distance away.
  • Map of the Samaria National Park
    A map showing the Samaria Gorge from Xyloskalo, high in the White Mountains, down to Agia Roumeli. The total length of the gorge is 18 kilometres, 15 of them inside the National Park. It should take you about 6 hours’ gentle walk to cover the whole route. This will give the chance to enjoy Samaria without rushing. Remember that there are lots of gorges in Crete, but only on Samaria have the locals bestowed the honorary title of “Farangas”, “Great Gorge”, in recognition of its unique beauty and majesty.
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