About Crete

Crete is one of the most beautiful islands you can find in the Greek seas. It is also one of the biggest islands of Greece.

 

 

 

Thanks to its singularity, the Cretan landscape is of a unique charm, attracting the visitor to explore its beauties. Its variety and the alternations present in its geomorphology make it unique; as for the mountainous landscape, although it is less known then the maritime, which is the main reason Crete attracks thousends of tourists each year, it hides rare natural beauties and offers the alternative for climbing , and great walking tours. It is worthwhile for everyone to dedicate a part of the holidays to experience really awesome adventurous explorations. As for the acquaintance with the unknown mountainous landscape, one can undertake such a tour with safety, since there are many tourist agencies of alternative tourism organizing such excursions on our island.

Amongst of the most extraordinary beauties that open out before the eyes of the visitor in this so particular landscape are its exquisite gorges. As the soil underwent various alterations through the years - at rocky or mountainous places a number of collapses had occured, forming deep cracks and steep narrow passes - the Cretan gorges and ravines of a unique wild beauty were created.

When the astounded visitor attemps to go through such gorges he has the sense that he is in the jungle, since the luxuriant vegetation covers the vertical masses of rocks which reach unrealistic height most of the times. while crystalclear waters gush out of secret sources and stream into narrow, mazy passes. The charm of this wild landscape is so great that has made them popular to nature lovers worldwide.

Let us undertake a short tour within the Cretan landscape and meet the most renown gorges:

Starting form the western side of the island, the huge, imposing massif of Lefka Ori rises before us. With its peaks reaching 2000 metres, it suddenly plunges at the southern coasts, forming impressive gorges, as is the famous gorge of Samaria, the gorge of Tripiti, the gorges of Eligia, Agia Irini, Klados etc. Although that over 1000 metres the landscape is treeless - "Madares" means "bare mountains" - vegetation is luxuriant in the gorges.

More specifically, the gorge of Samaria is the largest in Europe, stretching for 18 kilometres. Until the mid-twentieth century, it was a virgin landscape of an unaltered ecological balance and with just a few visitors. Nowadays, each year frommay to october, thousands of visitors go through it. Despite the flood of tourists in the summers months - when it passage is allowed - and the necessary and appropriate human intervention to make it more accessible, here is the unique habitat worldwirde os the wild goat "aegarus", alsopopular amongst the native population as "kri-kri" or "agrimi".

The only national forest of Crete surrounds the gorge of Samaria, with an area counting to 48.550 thousands os square kilometers. It is a habitat, where a great part of the rich Cretan fauna and flora is preserved.

In the east, the gorge of Imbros and the gorge of Katre are the last border before the steep slopes of Lefka Ori. In the south, there are other exquisite sloping down the Libian Sea.To the east, the visitor meets the impressive gorge of Kotsyfosand the Kroutaliotiko with its ambundant water rushing on. All the roads leading us to the historical monstery of Preveli cross right there. Always following the same orientation, from the Northwest to the East, the main massif of Psiloritis expands before us. Its highest peak reaches 2.456 metres, while on its steep slopes live wild mammals, amongst them the wild cat (Felix Agrius).

At the South of Psiloritis and towards the east, after the fertile plain of Messara and after we pass by the imposing Asterousia mountain - yet another mountainous paradise that remains to be explored - the slopes of the Dikti mountain rise. Between the massif of Dikti and the mountains of Thripti streches the narrowest part of the island, that is the valley of Ierapetra, while the mountains of Thripti enclose the fabulous gorge of Cha. This gorge was inaccessible recently, when a group of competent climbers managed to go through it succesfully. In the Northeast of Thripti the mountain Oros rises and suddenlu ends on the northern coasts of the provice Sitia.

Besides all places we have reported, the visitor has still other alternatives. In the South of Ghania and on the way to Therisso one can meet the wonderful gorge Therissano, on the way to Fragokastello we meet the gorge of Asfendados. When we go down from Ghora Sfakion to the coast, the beautiful goge of Aradena is another challenge to the visitor, whilefrom Kastelli to Paliochora, another deep gorge called Topoliano still keeps it secret paths, luring the visitor to discover its beauties.

There are still numerous other places os an exquisit beauty to visit. Many more are continuously brought into light, thanks to the care of specialized persons that undertake theit exploration, composing pictures of unrivalled charm. Nevertheless, wild nature hides many dangers, especially as far as the "non-initialized" visitors are concerned. In some cases one must be trained on specific climbing techniques, while to go through those gorges requires many hours of walking, hence a good sustenance. Consequently it is absolutely necessary for the visitor to gather the appropriate information on a given walking-tour: hours of walking, specific geomorphologic conditions, grade of difficulty of the given tour, before he or she involves in such an adventure...