Hiking the Gorge
- Samaria Gorge
Lonely Planet review for Hiking the Gorge
The hike from Xyloskalo (the name of the steep stone pathway with wooden rails that gives access to the gorge), to Agia Roumeli on the coast takes from about four hours for the sprinters to six hours for the strollers. Early in the season it's sometimes necessary to wade through the stream. Later, as the flow drops, it's possible to use rocks as stepping stones.
The Samaria Gorge hike is not a Sunday stroll; it is long and, at times, hard. Do not attempt it if you are not used to walking. If you find that the going is too tough within the first hour, there are park wardens with donkeys who will take you back to the beginning. They will be on the look out for stragglers.
Rugged footwear is essential for walking on the uneven ground, which is covered by sharp stones. Don't attempt the walk in unsuitable footwear - you will regret it. The track from Xyloskalo to Agia Roumeli is downhill all the way and the ground makes for generally uneven walking. Take a hat and sunscreen, plus a small bottle of water that can be refilled along the way in the many springs spurting cool water (it's inadvisable to drink water from the main stream). There is nowhere to buy food, so bring energy food to snack on.
There are excursions to the Samaria Gorge from every sizable town and resort on Crete, but you can get there easily enough from Hania by bus, then catch a ferry from Agia Roumeli back to Hora Sfakion or other south coast towns. Most travel agents have two excursions: 'Samaria Gorge Long Way' and 'Samaria Gorge Easy Way'. The first comprises the regular hike from Omalos; the second starts at Agia Roumeli and takes you up as far as the Iron Gates.