We rented a car for a day to head out for a hiking trip in the south western part of Crete. It took a bit of timing to plan this trip right.
The original plan was to leave Heraklion early in the morning to get to the port of Hania (takes about 2 hours to drive there), park the car and take an hour bus ride south to the village of Osmalos where the Samaria Gorge starts. The gorge is 18km long and ends in the south coast village of Agia Roumeli. The walk takes about 4-5 hrs to do. When you get to the end, there is only one ferry at 5:30pm that takes you to another port called Hora Skafion where you take the bus back to Hania. If we took that itinerary, we wouldn’t have gotten back to Heraklion until midnight.
Our car rental rep did advise us that there’s a “lazy way”. We can drive down to Hora Skafion instead, park there, take the ferry to Agia Roumeli, and start the gorge from the bottom. He said its actually better to do it this way as well since there’s not too much to see from the first half of the gorge anyway. We can walk half way up and come back down the same way to catch the ferry back to Hora Skafion again. Perfect!
He checked with the ferry to confirm their schedule…it’s closed tomorrow due to excessive winds 😦 He told us to check in with him tomorrow night and see if they’ll be open the next day. But he’s not sure since the winds could shut it down for more than one day. So we out off renting the car until the next day to see if conditions change. Our only chance to do the gorge will be the next day since we leave Greece in a couple of days. So we go back to the car rental place the next day around 4pm. Another rep was working so we asked her to check the ferry for us…
“no one is picking up, sorry they’re closed already”
Damn it! Now we had to make a decision to take the chance of driving there in the morning nag hopefully the ferry is running. Otherwise plan B would be to drive back and make some stops along the way to other sights. Well let’s take that chance anyway as we’ll never get to do it if we don’t.
So the next morning off we go. Its quite nice driving along the coastline with the mountains in the background. But there were a lot of windy roads. I also saw that some cars were driving on the shoulder of the lane a lot (the expressway is one lane each side most of the time). I figured that there were two purposes:
1. For other cars to pass. They make room for you to pass them if you’re going faster than them.
2. Safety from passing cars from the opposite lanes. Sometimes they do it on the curves when you’re not suppose to so I can see the precaution you have to take!
So we finally get there for the moment of truth…ferry is working! Now the trek begins…
Clear natural spring water that runs through the gorge
One of many wooden bridges to cross.
The most famous portion of the gorge, the iron gate. The smallest gap is 4m wide and over 300m tall
Rest area with natural spring fountain.
Looked like a rock slide could happen any time when we were crossing.
This part looked amazing with the layered rock formation.
We probably walked around 8-9km before turning back the other way.
Iron gate part deux.