Samaria Gorge and Agia Roumeli in one day trip!

Samaria Gorge is one of many beautiful gorges in Crete and one of the major tourist attractions of Chania. The gorge has a length of 16 km, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m., in Xyloskalo and ending on the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. It is quite long (4 to 6 hours hiking), so you should be prepared for a quite rough route. The gorge was declared as a national park in 1962 mainly because it is a shelter for the rare Kri-Kri (Cretan Ibex). [caption id="attachment_5933" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="A friendly Kri-kri in Samaria Gorge"][/caption] Samaria Gorge has also a variety of several rare endemic species as well as many species of flowers and birds. You can reach Xyloskalo by car or by intercity bus, starting from the bus station of Chania and ending to Omalos. There you will find the entrance of the National Park of Samaria, as well as the ticket office. You should hold your tickets until the way out where there is a ticket control. [caption id="attachment_5934" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="The steep downhill path starting from Xyloskalo"][/caption] Entering the gorge, there is a steep rocky trail with a wooden fence for you to lean on. This path is about 3km. This is the most difficult route into Samaria Gorge, as it is downhill enough. After 1.7km (40 min. hiking) you will see the first rest point called “Neroutsiko”.  There you will find a fountain with drinking water, fire station and toilette. In the next 1.1km (25 min hiking) there is the rest point “Riza Sykia”. It has also a fountain with drinking water, fire station and toilette. [caption id="attachment_5935" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="The peaceful river crossing Samaria Gorge"][/caption] Moving on, you will see the river that crosses the gorge and you will hear its gurgling water on your way there. Also, around the trail you will definitely notice large areas covered with stones stacked on top of one another. It is said that if you stack a rock on top of them your wish will be granted!
[caption id="attachment_5938" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="Foresters in Agios Nikolaos rest point welcome you in Samaria Gorge"][/caption] In the next 0.9Km (25 min. hiking) you will find the rest point “Agios Nikolaos“, where you can make a five-minute stop if you want. You have already traveled the first 3 kilometers in Samaria Gorge! In Agios Nikolaos you will find a fountain of drinking water, fire station and toilette. Here is the forester’s building and a very old church of St. Nicholas (open to access). From now on, the path is not downhill, but a little steep, full of stones. Continue towards the fourth rest station (20 min hiking), the “Vrysi”. Here you will find only a spring of water. The next stop for water turns to the rest point “Prinari” after 1.3km (20 min hiking). [caption id="attachment_5939" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="The bridge leading hikers to Samaria village"][/caption] Continuing on to the next station, you will definitely enjoy crossing small bridges over the river.  You will notice beautiful geological shapes on the rocks. Completing the next 2,2km (45 min. hiking), you will reach the last rest point, the “Christos” (Christ). Here you will find an old church, fountain of drinking water, fire station and toilette. [caption id="attachment_5940" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="The impressive Portes in Samaria Gorge"][/caption] After “Christos”, continue for the last 2.8km (30 min. hiking) and you will get to the impressive “Sideroportes”, or simply “Portes”. This is the narrowest point of Samaria Gorge. The distance between the two sides of the gorge at this point is only three meters and their vertical height reaches 300 meters, a perfect spot to take some majestic photos! Then, you will see two parallel bridges, in a short distance from one another, a building for tickets checking and… that’s it! [caption id="attachment_5941" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="This little cute donkey will carry you to the exit of the gorge in case of need"][/caption] If you walk leisurely, stop for taking photos and rest, you will spend 5 hours approximately. If you want to walk a little more strongly it will take to you about 4 hours. If you want to be very relaxed, sit and eat in Samaria village, then it may take to you 6 hours approximately. In case of injury or exhaustion, you don’t have to worry! The foresters riding cute donkeys are there for you to take you to the exit of the gorge. [caption id="attachment_5942" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="Cafe at the end of Samaria Gorge"][/caption] Coming out of the gorge you will see three cafes where you can sit and have a refreshing drink, an ice cream or something to eat. Then you can walk another 3 km towards Agia Roumeli. Alternatively, there is mini-bus service! [caption id="attachment_5943" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="Take a breath of coolness in the blue waters of Agia Roumeli after crossing Samaria Gorge"][/caption] In Agia Roumeli you will find several restaurants offering delicious food and iced orange juice. You may also enjoy a swim at the pebble beach there. If you are willing to spend a night in Agia Roumeli, we recommend you to enjoy the beautiful sunset until late on the beach and then taste the delicious Sfakian pies and Cretan wine in one of the traditional taverns. In the next morning, do not forget to taste breakfast with Sfakian cheese and thyme honey from the White Mountains. articly by cretico

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