For most fit and active visitors the main hiking section of Crete and one that is not to be missed is the stunning and spectacular four to seven hour crossing of the Gorge of Samaria. The Gorge is a massive 16km and one of the longest gorges in Europe. It begins with a steep stairs descent out of Xyloskalo which is 1200 meters above the sea. After walking for about an hour the path has gone down to about 600m lower and about 10km from the start and you will be in the old village of Samaria, which was abandoned in the 1960’s and which had a stunning, but faded frescoed church of Agios Nikolaos.
From here the walk gets a bit harder under your feet as it involves you crossing the river back and forth. There are occasionally flash floods so check the wardens notice boards before you leave. The gorge will get narrower for a while until you pass the Afendis Hristos Chapel at which point it is almost (but not quite) possible to reach out and touch both sides of the gorge.
Lastly, when you reach the old Agia Roumeli you’ll see not only abandoned World War II relics but also some beautiful scenery, plant life and wildlife (look out in particular for the charming wild goats). You’ll need to walk about another mile or two to get out of the gorge but once you get to the coast there are some stunning little seafront cafes and bars waiting for you with lunch and ice cold beers.
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