We arrived in Heraklion ridiculously early in the morning and caught the first bus to Chania. Chania is a wonderful place to relax and spend holiday time but the reason we went there was to walk Samaria Gorge. Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe and famous for its wildlife. It’s a nature reserve and the walk is well marked and provided with rest stops and fountains for drinking water. The path underfoot is rocky and in places very uneven. It is easy enough to guess where all the rocks come from, the towering cliffs, the signs saying danger walk quickly merely emphasised that rocks fall.
We thought we were fit. We walk a lot (when it’s not so crazy hot). We walk with Zirve Dağcılık, many of whom are mountaineers and most of whom are younger than us. We keep up. But Samaria Gorge was tough. It is almost all downhill and often fairly steeply downhill, and as stated, often rocky and uneven. We were wearing sandals. Proper walking sandals to be fair, but they lacked anything by way of ankle support. By the time we had completed the 26Km, we were shattered. We ached for several days afterwards. Walking downhill does that.
The whole gorge is tremendously crowded and, like all crowds, the crowd can be noisy. Noisy enough to ensure that any wildlife stays well away from the trodden paths. We saw some sort of raptor, possibly an eagle, from the bus on the way up, but nothing whilst we were there, though we did hear many frogs. The crowds kept bounding past us (though we did tend to catch up with them at the rest stops), we think it better to take our time and enjoy the walk. Crowds aside, it was a brilliant day out. The weather was not too hot and the scenery is incomparable.
We caught the minibus from the gorge exit to the village and little beach where there is a ferry which connects with a bus back to Chania. If there are more people than they can fit on the bus back to Chania they bring in more busses (three, in total, the day we did the walk). Outwards (in the morning), there is a bus that runs from Chania bus station to the top of the gorge. You then pay to get in and walk down, your ticket collected at the far end so that the park rangers can count the numbers in and out. This is for safety reasons along with the rangers positioned in places along the way and donkeys for those walkers who hurt themselves.
Pictures… Lots of pictures.