The Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in
Europe, and also the most famous. Thousands of tourists
flock there daily in the season to walk from the top to
the bottom. For many, itís the sole purpose of their visit
Here Iíve compiled a few tips and information that you
should consider if youíre going to walk through the gorge.
The question of logistics is an important consideration.
There is no road between the start and the end of the
hike. If you left your car at the entrance, youíll then
have to drive for hours back to the north coast in order
to pick it up. For that reason, itís better to do the walk
with either public transport or an organised tour.
At the end of the gorge is Agia Roumeli. From here you
take the ferry to
Chora Sfakia. From there, you can take
the ferry back to
Chania. All told, using public
transport, you leave Chania at 5/6am and youíll get back
at 8pm. Altogether, this will cost about Ä20. Prices for
organised tours are in the same price range, the only
difference being that the tour operator has bought all the
tickets for you. Itís probably better to get a tour from
your base; thereís daytrips from all of the bigger resorts
Ė even as far as
Hersonissos Ė but these will
obviously start even earlier. If youíre moving onto
another destination after youíve walked the gorge, there
are also ferries departing Agia Roumeli to Loutro,
and Paleochora. From Paleochora and Sougia you can do the
Samaria Gorge with public transport, though ferries are
There are not many watering holes, so be sure to take
plenty of water with you!
Donít forget to take food with you, since you canít buy
anything in the gorge. There are many shops and
restaurants in Agia Roumeli, but the captive market keeps
prices high and quality low.
The Samaria Gorge is only open when the river that runs
through the gorge has little water. This is the case only
in summer. Generally the water stops flowing in the first
half of may and starts up again in mid-October. It is
strictly prohibited to enter Samaria National Park (the
gorgeís official moniker) when it is not open.
You will have to pay an entrance fee at the kiosk. From
2005-8 the fee was Ä5 a head. Some tour operators include
this in their bookings, others not Ė check with your
Itís forbidden to stay overnight in the gorge. Mountain
bikes, open fires and various other things are also
strictly prohibited. If youíre caught flaunting the rules,
fines are high.
There are many rare species of animal resident in the
gorge, such as the Bearded Vulture, or the wild goat
Ďkri-krií (Agrimi). Due to the high amount of people
passing through, itís very unlikely youíll see them. There
are plenty of wild flowers in spring, which make for a
beautiful sight, especially the orchids.
If you want to go against the flow, you can also hike the
Samaria gorge uphill, but be warned Ė this isnít easy, and
youíll be going against the vast flow of downhill hikers
on a narrow track, which can be irritating. Secondly, itís
not possible to go on to Chania on the same day using
public transport Ė youíll have to spend a night either in
Omalos or at the Kallergi Lodge.
IMPORTANT: Do not underestimate the difficulties of
tackling the Samaria gorge. Every year people die there.
You have to be fit enough to walk 19km and in summer it
can be extremely hot (40c and more). If you are not fit,
then Samaria Gorge is best left off your itinary.
If you donít like your hikes to be spoilt by the presence
of too many other people, Samaria Gorge is probably not
for you either. Why not try one of the many other gorges
in the area? They may be less famous, but they will have
less people and each is interesting in its own, different
The Samaria Gorge is 19km long, on a rocky track which
winds around the terrain, making it longer and harder than
a road the same distance would be. Once again, do not
underestimate the distance, even if the Greeks (not
notable walkers themselves) tell you itís no problem.
The track itself starts in a huge car park 3km from Omalos
in the White Mountains. All buses stop here. The locals
call the spot Xylocastro (Wooden Stairs). From here you
can walk down the gorge using the wooden stairs in about
After one and a half hours of walking, youíll reach the
small chapel of Agios Nikolaos, which is the first big
resting place, where you can stop to take a picnic by the
beautiful spring there. Three hours in, youíll come across
an abandoned village called Samaria. Here youíll usually
find water, and quite often some first-aid personnel, a
helicopter landing field and toilets. After the village,
the most interesting part of the gorge begins.
Here on both sides, the rock towers over you from hundreds
of meters up; four hours into the walk, youíll get to the
Iron Gate, where the walls are only 4m apart, and still
hundred of metres high.
After one more hour, youíll reach the end of the gorge.
Altogether the walk through the gorge is at least five
hours (plus breaks). There are two tavernas at the end of
the track. To get to the port to catch a ferry and to Agia
Roumeli is another 2km walk from here.
This small village is packed to the rafters with tired,
hungry and thirsty hikers from 2-5pm. There are dozens of
restaurants and some supermarkets here to cater for the
clientele, and prices are pretty high. After the last
ferry leaves in the evening, Agia Roumeli is a quiet
village. Some houses rent room, and the restaurants are
nicer without the big crowds. A nice place to stay is the
Pension Oasis. If youíre walking the Samaria Gorge uphill,
it makes a lot of sense to spend the night before in Agia