The gorges of Crete – escaping the crowds

Crete isn’t only beaches and port-towns, there’s also a crazy geological history and terrain that’s covered with impassable mountains and deep, snaking valleys. Tectonic activity, weathering, or the breaking of rocks and erosion caused by water, provide tourists with attractions such as dozens of impressive gorges. The most famous, biggest in Europe Samaria gorge is traversed from hundreds to thousands of people daily. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about such crowds makes me a bit dizzy. The logistic challenge of organizing the return from the gorge’s exit and the perspective of trekking whole day in excessive heat somehow did not spur us into getting off the couch. Luckily, there are plenty of other, beautiful gorges to see around the island. Together with Lima we visited two and can wholeheartedly recommend them.

The Agios Farangos gorge is located on the southern coast, in a straight line from Heraklion, so the city can be the base for a day trip. We visited it in winter, when it was almost empty. Although rather short, it impressed us with its atmosphere and the echoes of jingling goats’ bells. These crazies scuttle around at great heights over vertical rock-faces, leaving us to wander how such feats are possible. Another great thing about this gorge is that, like Samaria, it ends at the sea!  Marcin would not miss out on a swim, even though it was February. Supposedly, in recent years, in season, there are many campers and tents here, so it can get a bit cramped. Either way, if you, like us, are fans of wild camping on the beach, this gorge is a delightful place to feel the call of freedom!

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The other gorge, Agia Irini, was visited in June, with a friend. It’s in Chania province, near Samaria, and the sights are similar. On the way, though, we passed just a few groups of tourists, while the trek lasts about 2,5 h instead of 5. This time of year it’s already terribly hot, so it’s probably a good idea to be smarter than us and get up early in the morning. There may be plenty of shady areas on the way but the time spent in full sun was enough to make our brains sizzle. Ania would desperately put her head under spigots with water available in a few places. There’s no sight of sea waiting at the end but the blossoming oleanders, fragrance of wild herbs and heavenly views confirm that it’s worth getting the butt off the beach for a day!

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