Asterousia Mountains – Mt. Kofinas – Rock Climbing at Kapetaniana – Koudoumas Monastery
The existence of the Asterousia mountains makes approach to the southern coast of Heraklion kind of an adventure; driving is very tiring as roads are narrow, full of looping curves, climbing up steep mountain flanks.
Many of these roads are just dirt tracks. However this also has a positive effect; most of this coast is still a virgin place without the results of over-development that exists in the resorts of the northern coast.
The village of Kapetaniana
Kapetaniana is a village high in the mountains (800 m). It is a paradise for rock-climbing as Zbynek Cepala has done an excellent job in equipping the nearby climbing areas with 10mm bolts.
The rock is limestone with slabs, holes and edges, technical passages, overhangs and athletic climbing. It is necessary for you to bring an extensive set of nuts and slings. Most of the belay stations are equipped with 2 bolts and chains for Top rope.
The village of Kapetaniana itself is a rare chance to see how old Cretan villages were. In order to go there you have to follow the road from Agioi Deka to Vagionia and Loukia.
Hiking in Mt. Kofinas
Very close to Kapetaniana is the summit of Mt. Kofinas. It’s a very short distance to the top but the path is very steep and the ground loose. If you are afraid of heights then be careful. The view from the top is breathtaking.
The Monastery of Koudoumas and the village of Agios Ioannis
Moni (monastery) Koudouma is a unique opportunity to visit a secluded and virgin area of Crete. You can do that either from Kapetaniana or from Sternes village.
From the village of Kapetaniana you may walk (or drive if you have a genuine 4×4 car) down to Agios Ioannis (2 hrs). When you get to the village, ask them to show you the way to Agios Ioannis church; it’ s a church built inside a cave and there are some spectacular wall-paintings.
From Agios Ioannis village you may follow the path to Koudoumas Monastery (1hr 30 min). Thirty minutes before the monastery there is the cave of Agios Antonios with a church built inside; a torch-light will be useful.
From the Monastery of Koudoumas you may either return the same way or walk up the road (it is the road coming from Sternes) to Mt. Kofinas and Kapetaniana (about 4 -5 hrs). It is a really scenic route as the road is steeply descending from 1000 m to sea-level, through woods of pine trees.
Another approach to Moni Koudouma is driving from Kapetaniana to Mt. Kofinas and then turn the first turn right. If you go this way, then you may reach Agios Ioannis by feet from Koudoumas Monastery.
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