Gorges and Forests

Magnificent, deep, wild gorges

Crete, on the whole, is a mountainous island. Its mountain ranges are torn apart by magnificent, deep, wild gorges, which begin at high altitudes and usually end up at the coast.

Gorges are Natural Monuments and a lot of them are found in Eastern Crete. Two of them are located on either side of Anatoli, the famous Sarakina Gorge and the Havgas Gorge of Kalamafka. Others are located close to archaeological sites or medieval monasteries and can be visited on day trips. Since most of them end up on nearby beaches it is a good opportunity to combine with swimming. The Dikti Mountain Range is home to some very impressive canyons, with the most popular being Sarakina by Mythi, Kritsa, Adrianos, Havgas by Kalamafka and Havgas at Lassithi Plateau. Some more impressive gorges, surrounded mainly by pinewood, are located on Mount Thrypti. Among them, the canyons of Pefki, Orino, Ahlia and Mylonas are the most popular. The area of Zakros is dominated by the eerie canyon of the Dead, which takes its name after the Minoan graves found in its cavernous walls.

Selekano Forest (west of Anatoli)

The forest Selakano is located 35km north of Ierapetra, in the southeastern part of the Dikti massif. Selakano Woods is one of the most beautiful and most important surviving ecosystems of the island, under the Natura 2000 program, and a major pine forest for the entire Mediterranean Sea. The area can be accessed via asphalted road that runs through a magical route till the village Selakano and starts either in Ierapetra or Anatoli. In the forest there is a large network of forest roads for strolling around. In Selakano village you can enjoy your food in the traditional tavern and on your way back visit the church of Agia Paraskevi in the homonym location, "drowned" in platan trees with a beautiful tavern there for lunch or diner.

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Selekano Forest (west of Anatoli)
Selekano Forest (west of Anatoli)

Richtis Gorge

The amazing gorge of Richtis is located in Lasithi Prefecture, on the north side, between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia. It starts just outside the village Exo Mouliana and ends at the Richtis beach, east of the village of Kalabro. The total length of the route is approximately 3 kilometers and the elevation difference between the starting point and the beach is about 350 meters. The gorge, even in summer, has enough water, which is used by locals. The highlight is, of course, the beautiful waterfall of over 20 meters form with a smal pond formed beow it. Impressive also - footprint of the past - is the old water mills that the visitors meet in the path. The path finishes in the beautiful pebbly beach of Richtis. The beach has enough tamarisk trees, with stone seats and tables around. Also, there is a stone water fountain with water all year round.

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Richtis Gorge
Richtis Gorge

Kritsa Gorge

Kritsa Gorge starts near the picturesque village of Kritsa, 9.5km southwest of Agios Nikolaos and ends at the village Tapes. It’s 4km long, reaching a width of only 1.5m in some places. It is easily accessible with a few points that need attention, where you have to climb over some big rocks (not too hard). It is a masterpiece of nature, which is worth a visit especially in spring, when flowers bloom and there is a little water.

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Kritsa Gorge
Kritsa Gorge

Sarakina Gorge (west of Anatoli near the neighboring village Malles)

16km west of the Ierapetra is the traditional village of Mythi. In a short distance from the village, the small Sarakina Gorge starts, which ends near the Mirtos. The length of the canyon reaches 1.5km and its width ranges from 3 to 10 meters, with only a few points exceeding that. The walls reach a height of 150m, making this narrow gorge very impressive. In the gorge, Kryopotamos river is flowing all over the year. This is a canyon with most of its length being accessible, with water, ponds and some climbing points. It is ideal for a pleasant afternoon or for a walk with your children.

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Sarakina Gorge (west of Anatoli near the neighboring village Malles)
Sarakina Gorge (west of Anatoli near the neighboring village Malles)
Sarakina Gorge
Sarakina Gorge
Sarakina Gorge

Pefki Gorge

The Gorge of Pefki (Pefki means Pines) is one of the most beautiful small gorges of Crete, with amazing rock formations shaped by the natural forces and with lush vegetation. The length of the gorge is 4.5 km and the elevation difference of the entering point and the exit reaches 300 meters.The gorge starts south of the village Pefki and ends in Aspros Potamos dorp, 2km north of Makrigialos. The canyon has a well shaped path, which follows the riverbed almost in its entire length. Moreover, at some point you will see some benches where you can rest. The route in the gorge can hold 2 hours and is part of the E4 European long distance path.

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Pefki Gorge
Pefki Gorge

Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka neighboring village to Anatoli)

The Gorge of Havgas is located very close to the village Kalamafka, just 12km north of the city of Ierapetra. Note that there are several other gorges with the same name around Crete, such as the Havgas Gorge in Lassithi Plateau.The canyon is very beautiful and has distinctive rock formations, which have been shaped by rare geological phenomena. In many places the rocks host "artistic" creations of nature, carved over time by wind and water. It is relatively short in length and walking along the riverbed is very easy, even for beginners.

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Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka neighboring village to Anatoli)
Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka neighboring village to Anatoli)

Milonas Gorge

The Gorge of Mylonas or Saint John is located 18km east of Ierapetra. It starts near the village of St. John, at an altitude of 500m, and ends at the beach of Kakia Skala. Descending the gorge from Saint John is impossible, as it is stopped by a high waterfall, and canyoning equipment is necessary. However, the high fall of the canyon of Mylonas can be accessed through two ascending trails that start near the beach of Kakia Skala. The first trail (easy – 20’) comes on the pinewooded side of the gorge and a big part of it is the old concrete ditch, previously used for transferring water to Koutsounari. The other trail comes along the riverbed and especially in winter us very tiring (takes about 1:30 hour)

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Milonas Gorge
Milonas Gorge

Orino Gorge

Nearby the lush green and full of water springs Orino village we meet one of the most steep rivers of Crete. Its springs are located high on the plateau Abelia on the slopes of Thripti and Papouri mounts. They shortly form a river which crosses the village square and enters the rugged canyon of Orino. Descending the canyon along its riverbed requires canyoneering equipment. The river shapes incredible waterfalls with ponds and especially its last part is amazingly beautiful. The last three waterfalls at Peristerionas position are some of the most beautiful in Crete. Impressive also is the amount of water, very rare at dry East Crete. Even during the summer months there is water flow in the gorge.

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Orino Gorge
Orino Gorge

Zakros Gorge (the Valley of the Dead)

The beautiful Gorge of Kato Zakros (or the gorge of the Dead) starts in a short distance from Ano Zakros, nearly 100km southeast of St. Nicholas, and ends at Kato Zakros. The beauty of the landscape, the historical importance of the gorge and its accessibility, attract many visitors every year. The trail in the gorge is part of the E4 European trail. It is an exceptionally beautiful gorge, with high walls with big caves on them. In those caves, tombs of the Minoan era, have been found, which contained findings of great archaeological value. Because of these tombs, the gorge is also called "Gorge of the Dead" and the caves "Caves of the Dead".

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Zakros Gorge (the Valley of the Dead)
Zakros Gorge (the Valley of the Dead)
Selakano Forest
Selakano Forest
gorge of Richtis
gorge of Richtis
gorge of Richtis
gorge of Richtis
Kritsa Gorge
Kritsa Gorge
Sarakina Gorge
Sarakina Gorge
Sarakina Gorge
Sarakina Gorge
Pefki Gorge
Pefki Gorge
Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka neighboring village to Anatoli)
Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka neighboring village to Anatoli)
Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka neighboring village to Anatoli)
Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka neighboring village to Anatoli)
Milonas Gorge
Milonas Gorge
Milonas Gorge
Orino Gorge
Orino Gorge
Orino Gorge
 Zakros Gorge (the Valley of the Dead)
 Zakros Gorge (the Valley of the Dead)
 Zakros Gorge (the Valley of the Dead)

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