Samaria gorge

We walked Samaria gorge shortly after it reopened for the season.

A true wonder of nature!

A long hike with a lot of different landscapes. We started from the cool mountain air of Omalos. 15°C on a July morning. A few cars parked, no other people around.

The path descends immediately, part in steps and part as a slope. We’re in the pine woods, the Lefka Ori mountains surrounding us. Mixed with the pine trees are some ancient cypress trees. Some of them are very impressive, very wide and contorted.

We go down and down, we see some people along the way. There are many water springs with cool mountain water. Every spring is marked on a map with distance and timing, so you can keep an eye on how fast you’re going and how much you have left to go.

It takes a long time to get to the gorge bed. When we reach it, we see that the river is in full flow. We keep walking in the pines, sometimes the path climbs up on the hillside, then it goes down again. It criss-crosses the riverbed many times.

In the old settlement of Osia Maria, which gives the name to the gorge, we see the famous Cretan wild goat, Agrimi or Kri-Kri. It looks a bit like a small chamois. They are half tame here, picking up food scraps from the tourists around the pic-nic tables.

The last part of the hike is firmly in the river bed. We have sheer vertical cliffs on both sides. Signs warning to walk quickly because of the rock fall danger. Scree and loose stones. Lots of wooden bridges.

The famous Gates, the narrowest part of the gorge, are towards the end. After that we walk along the river a bit more, and find the old buildings of Agia Roumeli, then the new village by the coast.

We go for a swim and we see the ferry appear on the horizon, coming from Gavdos. There is a queue to get on the ferry. The tickets are issued very slowly, and it feels like a long time before we leave. On the boat trip we watch the coastline towards Sougia, spellbound.

It was a hard day’s walk and we don’t even know yet how many days of leg soreness are awaiting!

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