The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted in the blog title. I don’t think he had the Samaria Gorge in mind when he wrote it though! I confess that some of the thoughts I was having as I was hiking the gorge were anything but “truly great“!
It was a 6 am departure on the bus going to Samaria Gorge. A very early start, but watching the sun rise over the island of Crete during the drive was just beautiful.
Samaria Gorge is a national park in the province of Chania in the southwest part of the island of Crete. The trail starts at an altitude of 1250 meters and winds its way down to the port village of Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea. The whole trail from the northern entrance at the top to the port is 16 kilometers.
This is not a hike for those who are looking for a slow and scenic walk. It can be very challenging and strenuous and takes about 5 to 7 hours to complete. You really need to wear hiking boots that protect your whole foot and give good support. There are several rest spots along the route, but don’t stay there for too long or you may end up struggling to finish the hike in time to catch your ferry from Agia Roumeli.
You know you are participating in something different when you see signs that say, “Falling rocks! Walk fast!” Thankfully the two guides that were part of our group regularly checked on us throughout the hike.
At the 9 kilometer mark, there is an old settlement that is quite large where you can use the bathroom, fill up your water bottles and sit at tables for a few minutes before continuing on.
The spectacular views and scenery minimizes the difficulty of the hike. It’s quite an experience to be at the top of the gorge looking downwards at the path you will be taking for the next few hours. Passing through the “Iron Gates” at the 12 kilometer mark, where the width of the gorge is only 4 meters and the height is about 300 meters (980 feet), does put things into perspective.
Finally the end of the gorge path is in sight. After a quick check in to hand in your ticket stub, it is another 3 kilometers to the Agia Roumeli port.
As the sun is starting to set, there is just enough time for a quick dip in the Libyan Sea to cool off and sooth my aching feet before heading back homewards on the ferry.
So even though my thoughts while hiking the path were not always “truly great“, I can honestly say say that the hike itself was TRULY GREAT!
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The next post will be about another beautiful spot on the island of Crete called Gramvousa! Stay tuned!