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Ways to Experience Samaria Gorge National Park
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Reviewed 9 October 2012

23 years ago, then aged 23, I read some promotional blurb about the Samaria Gorge and vowed, if I ever returned to Crete; I would 'do' the gorge.

23 years is a long time....Long enough for a fellow to become a wee bit porky, to develop a pension for fine wines and spirits, to become diagnosed with various 'issues' requiring pills and potions and in my case, Rheumatoid Athritis affecting the spine and pelvis.

So, with nearly a quarter of a century of 'preparation' under my ever expanding belt; my wife and I booked up to visit The Samaria Gorge!!

Whilst I'd done no exercise, whatsoever, for twenty odd years, I had at least 'tooled up' for the job. A pair of some of the finest hiking boots available to man (Meindl GTX) an Australian bush hat with chin strap, Leki walking poles and those trousers with zip off legs.

Susie, my wife, had the good sense to buy a couple of those collapsable water pouches fitted with clips so that you can attach them to your belt.

The closer the tour got, the more nervous I became as tales of 'woe and hardship' surrounding the mission, increased in number and graphicness.

The great day arrived and we boarded our coach at 06:00...It was full of rather fit looking Germans and of course, our trek leader...A bronzed and happy, twenty something.

My concerns transmogrified into abject terror as we stopped to pick up some more 'victims'. The Trek Leader disembarked in order to greet them...Whilst she waited, she twisted and turned and stretched and touched her toes and performed various other feats of flexibility....This woman 'did' the gorge three times a week!!! There she was, limbering up like an Olympian.........The only exercise I'd done was to wash, get dressed and eat breakfast!! My a**e was going like a rabbit's nose!!

We arrived at The Gorge, quoffed a drink and visited the loo...I visited the loo three times. The ordeal began!!

Down the 'staircase' and into the abyss....Susie decided that she couldn't get along with her walking pole and gave it to me...I was 'reborn'!! Two sticks made progress much, much easier as I could use my arms to help me along as well as to provide far greater stability. It was like having four legs.

I rolled an ankle a couple of times which hurt quite a bit, so I relaced my boots to the point that I virtually cut the circulation to my feet off and that did the trick, nicely!

The watering stations along the way were a welcome sight but unfortunately each one was also home to swarms of wasps....In fact, everytime Susie and I stopped to refuel on honey and nut nougat, jelly babies or a swig of 'full fat' coke, our little black and yellow friends were on our case in seconds.

Perspiration, poured off me and I was blowing beads of sweat from my nose. Sweat trickled into my eyes which stung like mad and flowed down around my nether regions...most unpleasant!
Susie kept sloshing cold water over my head and neck which seemed to evapourate on contact!!

16,650 meters and 6 gruelling hours later, we completed the trek, for that is what it is...It is NOT a stroll in a valley. The Samaria Gorge, DONE! The difference between stupidity and bravery is measured only by success.....

Samaria is 'tough' and I would counsell, strongly, that you get 'match fit' before attempting it.

The following day, both Susie and I had completely 'seized up'. However, we were greeted as 'conquering heroes' by our hoteliers and by the waiters and waitresses in our favourite taverna who laughed heartily and pointed at us as we attempted sit down..."Hahahhaha SAMARIA!"

Date of experience: September 2012
4  Thank Bubble-dog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 October 2012

I do a lot of hiking and this is one trail I would recommend, if you don't mind tons of tourists. I went yesterday (the end of the season) and took a bus yesterday from Chania to Omalos, where the trail head starts. Entry was 5 Euros.

The trail itself is not at all difficult and is very well maintained. It only took my friends and I 3 hours to finish and we took hundreds of photos along the way. It is straight downhill on an easy trail with lots of WC and water stops along the way, so you do not need to be really fit to finish this hike. I saw lots of kids out there as well as older trekkers.

What was unfortunate, however, was that our bus from Chania to the Gorge was the last bus to get there. This meant there were lots of tourists already on the trail when we started so for the first hour and a half (the first 5 miles) we were stuck in the midst of this slew of people, which isn't what you want on a beautiful hiking trail. I don't know where the other buses left from, but if I were to do this over again I'd try to take one of those.

The first half is nice mountain scenery, but we weren't too impressed especially given all of these other tourists. But all of that changed as soon as we reached the impressive narrow gorge in the second half. I've never seen anything so vast.

We finished at 12:15 which gave us plenty of time to beer beach burn until 5:30 when the ferry left for Sfakia. We then took a bus from Sfakia and arrived in Chania at 9:30, so yeah, you have commit an entire day to this hike.

This is not physically harrowing so that shouldn't turn you off, but figure out a way to get there earlier so you're not dodging other tourists all morning.

Date of experience: October 2012
2  Thank Cameron T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 October 2012

This is a "must do" when going to this part of Crete although, be prepared for an early start! We were staying in Tavronitis and were picked up at 05.20 in the morning, after picking up along the way and a really scenic drive up into the mountains, we stopped off at a little taverna about 5 minutes away from the gorge entrance, for a coffee or something to eat if you wished. We started the walk at 08.00 a.m. it was slightly chilly, but you soon warm up, we didn't take and long sleeved clothing as we didn't want to end up carrying it later on ! It is quite hard going to start with and if you want to look at the stunning scenery, it is best to stop first as it's easy to trip and loose your footing. There are picnic benches and a supply of water - fresh off the mountain along the way as well as basic toilet facilities - not brilliant - but needs must. A challenging walk, due to the terrain, but all age groups are doing it. The walk ends in a village with plenty of taverna's for a meal or drink while you wait for the ferry ride back to your coach. A long day but well worth it, be warned - your calves will be painful for a couple of days afterwards and no matter your age, you'll be walking like a 90 year old !!

Date of experience: September 2012
1  Thank Lesley D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 October 2012

10 miles of intense terrain and incredible scenery. This walk through the gorge is not for the unfit or the unhardy souls. Very hard going in places and needs proper footwear with ankle support. A real challenge which makes you proud on completion of such a mammoth task. Well worth doing but not for those with any health issues.

Date of experience: October 2012
1  Thank MADABOUTANIMALS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 October 2012

A few friends of mine had been to Crete and told me that I could not possibly go without 'doing the Gorge'. Excellent advice. Stunning and magnificent to say the least. Myself and my partner booked the trip through Kyriakakis Travel and the guides were helpful, knowledgeable, good fun and made absolute sure we knew everything we needed to know about the hike. We did the trek on 27th September 2012. There is a small fee to enter the park but this was included in our guide fee. I would like the pass on the following tips and advice that i found invaluable for this wonderful hike:

Wear hiking boots with good socks. You can get away with hiking trainers but your ankles may suffer due to most of the walk being over rocks and large gravel type surfaces. Normal trainers are not really sufficient but you can get away with them if that is all you have and have only thought about doing the hike while you are already in Crete. They will take a battering though! I took advice from a friend and wore boots and my feet and ankles were fine after the hike. I carried them in my hand luggage to avoid the weight in my suitcase.

Wear a hat. it will keep the sun off your head, neck and face, and help prevent heatstroke.

Take a water bottle that you can refill - there are water points along the way, along with toilets. take snacks with you and eat a good breakfast before you go.

I highly recommend wearing a hiking waistbag rather than a rucksack, as you will sweat a lot and the straps on a rucksack may become uncomfortable on your shoulders and back. One that has a bottle holder even better as you can simply reach around and grab your bottle rather than having to either carry it in your hand, or get it out of the bag each time. This means your hands are free too. We were both glad we did this and still had plenty of room in the bag for all we needed for the hike.

The first part of the hike will be early in the morning and most of the time will start from the high point so take a thin light long sleeve top with you as it will be a bit chilly up there. There are 600 or so steps and with a gravel surface to go down so your knees will be sore at first but should warm up after a while, though they will still ache at the end of the hike. If you have bad knee problems be warned this hike is probably not for you!

Do the hike toward the end of your holiday as your legs - calves especially will be very stiff and you will be walking a bit funny afterwards! stretch your legs periodically throughout the hike.

Don't rush it! you will be looking down at where you are walking due to the terrain so stop often and look around you at the amazing views. There are rest areas - use them but don't stop for more than 20 minutes at a time as your legs will start to seize up.

If you have room, pack a small microfleece towel and something to swim in as the reward of the sea at the end of the hike is heavenly.

Last but not least, take your camera! I took so many pics of many different things along the way. An amazing experience all in all, highly recommended.

Date of experience: September 2012
1  Thank VGHOL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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