The Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge
'Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece' - Crete
'Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece' KasperKay / Shutterstock

Samaria Gorge is located on the island of Crete, and has the distinction of being a World's Biosphere Reserve. It is a Greek National Park, and is a major tourist destination for the island. The gorge itself was created because of a river running between Mt. Volakias and the White Mountains, and today the gorge comes in at over 16 kilometers long. Many visitors choose to hike the length of the gorge for the impressive natural beauty and stunning views.

Samaria Gorge was officially deemed a National Park in 1962, at which point the surrounding villagers of Samaria left to make way for the influx of visitors. The entire area now serves as a refuge for the increasingly rare kri-kri. This animal is the Greek goat, which is only found in a a few remote areas. There are also countless other endangered species living in the Samaria Gorge National Park, including plants and birds.

The most popular hike to see the gorge is one that stretches for 16 kilometers, and begins at the village of Omalos at the top of the gorge. The walk is an incredible one, offering plenty of opportunities to see the natural beauty of Crete and the impressive nature of the gorge. At one point, the walking path narrows to a mere four meters across, yet the walls of gorge extend into the sky over 1,100 meters. If you choose to walk the entire 16 kilometers, you may begin to notice it is nearly all downhill. Starting at 1,200 feet of elevation, the hike ends are sea level in the town of Agia Roumeli by the Libyan Sea. The can take 4-7 hours in total, but it is absolutely worth the effort. There are plenty of organized coaches and other means of transport to get you back to your accommodation after the hike.