The most historic and well-known gorge in Crete is the Samaria gorge.
It starts from the Omalos plateau, at a height of more than 1200 meters and little by little it slopes down and sinks to the sea at the village of Aghia Roumeli at the Southern coast. Its length is approximately 18 kilometers and it is the longer gorge in Europe.
The whole area of the gorge has been declared a National Park both for its natural beauty and for the unique and rare flora and fauna living there. All species are protected by the Greek State and picking flowers, making excess noise, or hunting is strictly forbidden.
The most characteristic species of the gorge is the wild goat of Crete, the famous kri-kri; you may see it as you walk, far away on the mountainsides of the White mountains, bounding on the craggy rocks; or, if you are lucky enough and there is not a lot of people around, you may see it near the village of Samaria, which is located within the gorge circa at the middle of the whole distance.
The village is uninhabited since the early ‘60s, when the place was declared a National Park. However, it is well preserved and, as it is at the middle of the whole distance it is an ideal relaxing stop for the hikers, who may find here fresh water and possibly a toilet.
The path is well signaled and leads safely to the exit at the coast; you will find water and toilettes along your way, but no food is available; if you like to eat something you have to bring it along. The well-organised hikers will arrive without problems at Aghia Roumeli after 5-10 hours, depending on their pace and the stops made.
It is important to wear shoes suitable for walking and comfortable clothes as well as a hut for protection from the sun; it is also important to walk with a normal and firm pace, otherwise you risk getting tired very soon.
The last 3 kilometres of the way are the most difficult as there is no shade and the sun is burning; but, arriving at Aghia Roumeli you can be rewarded with a good dive in the cool refreshing sea; in fact this is the best you can do after such a long walk, so than you will not have not stiff legs the next days (especially those less fit may face such problems).
If you feel that you are not fit enough to do all the way in the gorge, you can take the reverse way, starting from the exit, at Aghia Roumeli and arriving up to the narrowest point of the gorge, at Sideroportes; arriving there, you have to do the same way back to Aghia Roumeli; you will walk only a few kilometers, not very tiring, but you will loose the scenic environment, the wild beauty and the magic of the gorge.