Samaria Gorge: Worths one day of your life ...
Samaria Gorge is the most known of the Cretan gorges and it is a National Park since 1962. The passage of the Gorge is a unique and exciting experience. The entrance at Omalos Plateau is located 40 km from Villa Archon.
It is easy to get there from the Villa as a public bus starts almost daily from Paleochora and your return will be by boat having the opportunity to enjoy a fascinating 90 min. cruise.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, and many tourists want to visit it. But you must realise that it is a long walk (5 to 7 hours) on rough terrain so you will need to have a certain degree of fitness and walking experience in order to enjoy it.
It is the second longest gorge in Europe, with a length of 16 kilometres. The gorge starts from an altitude of 1227 meters on the Omalos Plateau and runs down to the seaside village of Agia Roumeli on the south coast of Crete.
In Samaria you can admire the forests of huge pine and cypress trees, a picture from Crete’s past, when the island was covered by forests famous for their timber, ideal for building strong ships.
The Samaria 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.
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 unique in the world is endemic to Crete and penalties for hunting them are very high. You will probably see some of them in the village of Samaria, as they often approach the houses at the edge of the village.
Samaria village is the old settlement located in the center of the gorge, 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 - no more than 30 min. as your muskles . A little further down is the 14th-century church of Osia Maria (Holy Mary), from which the name “Samaria” is derived.
At the end of your journey you will be rewarded by a swimming in the deep turquoise water of Agia Roumeli.
Believe it, this swimming will be the most invigorating you ever had !!
The strong sun in combination with the salty sea and almost deserted beaches give you a unique sense of nurturing solitude. This spectacular setting is also an absolute antidote to any walker’s fatigue!
Be careful not to forget the Ferry as it is the only and the last one for the day …
A JUST AMAZING WAY BACK: The trip from Ag. Roumeli to Paleochora takes around 90 minutes and is more likely a cruise as you will be stay speechless from the unique geological formations the hidden beaches and the totally unspoiled environment almost untouched by human presence. Depends on the period you may be have the chance to admire the exceptional magnificent sunset approaching Paleochora Port.
The infrastructure of the National park of Samaria
The Management Body of Samaria National Park Gorge has its own website, in order to provide the most complete and accurate information.
- The path is maintained and is substantially better than "normal" mountain paths in Crete.
- There are wardens along the way (in radio contact with each other) who will help you in case of trouble or injury.
- There are well-maintained springs on the way so that you do not have to carry much water.
- There are toilets in several places and plenty of rubbish bins. You will find surprisingly little litter, considering the amount of people passing through every day.
- You also get a set of rules aimed at protecting the park and making the experience safe and pleasant for everyone.
Go slow during the first 2 km of the walk. The path is very steep, the stones worn smooth and slippery and this is where most accidents happen.
Do not have rest more than 30 minutes because your muscles will start to become stiff.
The landscape at the exit from the gorge is dry and arid with no shade and is 3 Km away from the beach of Ag. Roumeli. Don’t spend your last strength there. There is something like a bus which go you down to the beach for 1€/per person – use it.
Don’t Forget !!
- A water bottle which you can refill on the way.
- Sun cream and a hat, especially for the last part of the walk which has very little shade.
- Good shoes. These don't have to be hiking boots but you won't be contributing to your enjoyment by wearing tennis shoes or sandals.
- Some food (sandwiches). There is no food available inside the National Park.
- Something warm to wear for the early morning: It can be cold at 1250m even on August.
HOW TO GET THERE FROM ARCHONVILLA:
The most recommend and wise way to reach Samaria gorge from Archon Villa is by all means the public transport and as far your return by a cruise with the ferry-boat from the village of Agia Roumeli to Paleochora.
Below are the regular departures of buses and Ferry-boats for 2016 but ensure for the updated timetables and fares in a tourist office in Paleochora or in the links below:
Departure : 06.15 from Paleochora with Public bus – approximately 90 minutes to Omalos - (Check the timetable or ask at tourist offices in Paleochora)
Return : Approximately at 19-19:30 in Paleochora by Ferry boat - Starts from Ag. Roumeli the trip is approximately 90 minutes to Paleochora- (Check the timetable or ask at tourist offices in Paleochora)