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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsSamaria Gorge in Crete Set to Reopen in May

Samaria Gorge in Crete Set to Reopen in May

Samaria Gorge
Hiking the Samaria Gorge is an amazing experience for travellers in Crete. Credit:  Lapplaender/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 de

The Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete will be ready to welcome visitors in May as the maintenance and restoration works on its main path have started, local authorities said on Tuesday.

The work includes bridge restoration, maintenance of the path and handrails, and construction of rockfall prevention structures.

The management of the Samaria Gorge for visitors was transferred to the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency (NECCA) in the summer of 2022, when the electronic ticketing system was put into operation for the first time.

Last year, the gorge welcomed 168,593 people, which was the highest number of visitors since 2007.

Samaria Gorge is a 10-mile stunning hike

The 15-kilometer (10-mile) long walk takes you through a stunning UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and some of the most unique scenery to be found in the entirety of Greece.

The gorge was formed by a small river which runs between the White Mountains and Mount Volakias. Although there are many gorges on Crete, Samaria Gorge is by far the largest, and is known for being the second-largest gorge in Europe.

The village of Samaria used to be located inside of the gorge, but was finally abandoned by the last remaining inhabitants in 1962 to make way for the Samaria Gorge Park. The village and the gorge take their names from the village’s ancient church, Óssia María.

Samaria Gorge
The “gates” of Samaria Gorge. Credit: Dkoukoul/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

A notable feature of the gorge on Crete is that it is home to a number of native species, including the Cretan kri-kri goat. Almost all of the kri-kri goats who live outside of captivity call Samaria Gorge their home, making the area a very special one for animal conservationists.

The head of the Gorge is at a small village called Xyloskalo. The walking path ends at a quaint village named Agia Roumeli, nestled between the gorge and the Libyan Sea.

One of the most showstopping parts of hiking Samaria Gorge is a stretch of the trail referred to as “the Gates.”

This aptly-named part of the impressive hike denotes a slightly claustrophobic but impressive area where the sides of the gorge close in, leaving a gap of only four meters (13 feet) for hikers to slip through.

This creates a lasting effect on those who navigate it, particularly as the gorge walls also reach straight up to 300 meters (980 feet) along this stretch.

The hike will often take people from five to seven hours, unless they opt to do it “the lazy way”; a modified, shorter hike from the village of Agia Roumeli to the Gates and back.

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