Samaria or the Samaria Gorge is one of the main sights of Crete. Every tourist who visits Crete will have heard of this beautiful gorge or soon will. The locals call it the “Farangas” or “Great Gorge”, both in admiration at its beauty and to differentiate it from the many other, smaller gorges of Crete. The Samaria Gorge is in west Crete, in the White Mountains. It is the longest gorge in Europe, with a length of 18 kilometres. The gorge starts at Xyloskalo (1227 m. above sea level) on the Omalos Plateau and runs down to the seaside village of Agia Roumeli on the south coast of Crete.
Samaria Gorge, Flora and Fauna
The Samaria Gorge National Park is exceptionally rich in plant and animal life. In the gorge you will find unique species protected under international law. It is said that there are 450 plant species in the gorge, and not a single flower may be removed from Samaria, by law. Don’t see this as a pointlessly strict rule, but as the only way to protect the delicate ecosystem of Samaria so that thousands of visitors can continue to enjoy it each year. In Samaria you can admire the forests of huge pine and cypress trees, a picture from Crete’s past, when theisland was covered by forests famous for their timber, ideal for building strong ships. Inside the gorge you may even meet its famous inhabitants, the wild goats of Crete, which the locals call “agrimia” and tourists call “kri-kri”. The Cretan wild goat is endemic to Crete and you will probably see some in the village of Samaria, as they often approach the houses at the edge of the village.
The Samaria village
Samaria is an old village whose inhabitants were relocated in 1962 when the gorge was declared a national park. The old houses still exist and they serve as houses for the guards. The village is a good opportunity to see the traditional architecture and rest for a while. When you get to this point you are almost halfway and the time is perfect for a sandwich (if you are carrying any with you). A little further down from the village is the 14th-century church of Osia Maria (Holy Mary), from which the name “Samaria” is derived.
Samaria gorge hiking, tips and equipment
Τhe Samaria gorge footpath is very well signposted all along its length and is thought to be the most-walked footpath in the whole of Greece (the second is the Mount Olympus path). It is impossible to get lost, as you are always moving in a stream of people. There are drinking water springs and toilets at various points.
Source: Explore Crete
Program for Samaria Gorge excursion
07:00 Pick up from your hotel – Transfer to Omalos
10:00 Enter the Gorge
15:00 Exit the Gorge, Boat to Sfakia
18:00 Reuturn to the hotel
Languages: ENG-FR (TUE,THU) -DE, NL, RUS (THU)
Prices: 44.00 (adult), 22.00 (child) Entrance=5.00, Boat= 9.50
Days: TUE – THU