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As every year since 1962 Samaria Gorge has reopened to the public, the second longest gorge in Europe, behind the Verdon Gorges in France with 20 km in length.
Prehistoric rocks, limestone peaks of the White Mountains of Crete, streams, and a 16 km long path that will take you through Byzantine temples, Christian chapels, Venetian fortresses and World War II shelters .
This is one of the most special routes you can do in Greece and an essential stop for the island of Crete . The starting point starts at Xyloskalo, the entrance to the Samaria National Park, from here you will travel 1, 230 meters of rocky road, the first two kilometers of the route on the way up, and the rest of the way down. But, be careful, it is not a simple walk, because it is a rocky terrain that requires some physical fitness.
About seven hours of excursion until you reach the Iron Gates (although you will not find iron anywhere), and then Agia Roumeli, from where you can continue walking to reach the sea of Libya.
Although May is the best time to visit Samaria Gorge, until October 31, about 2, 000 people visit it almost unnoticed among the imposing landscape.
An excursion of 16 km. © Alamy
Samaria Gorge was an isolated and strategic place throughout history until 1962, when the tourist route was created. Previously, the town lived in the gorge but from that year, the inhabitants were relocated to other areas, so today they can appreciate their houses and churches during the walk.
In fact, stop number seven on the route belongs to the village of Samaria, which is located at an altitude of 1, 000 meters, surrounded by rocks and with little natural light (only in summer). In the village you will find a magazaki, a typical small shop.
The main reason to turn it into a tourist route was to preserve the Cretan wild goat, which you will also find on your way through the Samaria gorges. Agrimi and kri-kri is a mammal that exists since prehistory.
Protected goats, agrimi and kri-kri. © Alamy
The route has signs and forest posts, but if you have any problem, the only way to get to the mainland will be with a mule, even if you don't worry because there is a doctor in the park.
The road is completely signposted and with rest stops for picnics or filling your canteen with spring water. But remember that it is a protected place, so it should be just as you found it when you arrived, that is, very clean.
In this guide you will find what is necessary to organize the excursion.
The largest gorge in Greece is in Crete. © Getty Images