The Samaria Gorge is the longest ravine in Europe, with a total lenght of 16 km, and offers one of the most spectacular hiking routes. It has been designated as a national park in order to protect its flora and fauna.
The walk takes about 3 to 6 hours. The beginning of the route is the Xiloskalo ( wooden steps). A route of wide steps leads down into the gorge and facilitates hikers fast descent. The trail follows a riverbed through a magnificent wooded area with tall trees and spectacular views along the way.
Midway lies the abandoned small village of Samaria, with a tiny 14th century Byzantine church dedicated to Saint Maria the Egyptian, who gave her name to the area (Sa Maria). One of the most impressive parts of the route is the Sideroportes ( Iron Gates) where the rock walls, only 3 m apart , soar straight up to about 600 m.
The walk through the national park is 13 km long but visitors have to walk an extra 3 km to reach to village of Agia Roumeli, where there is a frequent ferry transport going back to Sfakia.
How to get there
To reach the gorge you arrive to Omalos, in the village of Xiloskalo, at an altitude of 1250m. The best way to reach Omalos is by public bus or through an organized group. After finishing the gorge in the village of Agia Roumeli, you take one of the ferries to Sfakia and then an evening KTEL bus to Chania.