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Tips for walking the Samaria Gorge in Greece

Planning to hike through the Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete in Greece? Whether you go alone or in a group, these tips can make a difference in your day in Samaria Gorge.

Precautions

While tens of thousands of people walk through the Samaria Gorge each season, it is not without its dangers and some years there are one or two deaths.

Rain storms can cause flash flooding and high temperatures can make the bottom of the Samaria Gorge sit down and gasp for air. If it’s too hot, skip your hike no matter what your tour group says. Usually the park authorities will close the gorge if it’s too hot, but that won’t help you halfway.

Temperatures will be milder at the top of the Samaria Gorge due to the altitude, and what starts out as a nice warm day at the snack bar can turn into hell at the bottom.

And since it’s all downhill, with the steepest part at the beginning, there’s an easy way back if you find it’s too much for you. Your only option, in that case, is to try to get to the ranger station about a quarter of the way down or to the medical station in the otherwise abandoned town of Samaria, located in the middle of the gorge and ask to be removed. Donkey.

Call the day of the walk

Call the day of your hike Samaria Gorge, especially if you do it yourself and not as part of a bus group. It may close due to bad weather, hot weather, or the occasional worker strike.

There is a lot of water

You will not have to carry more than a liter bottle, which you will fill in the springs along the way.

Layered dress

It can be much cooler at the top of Samaria Gorge than at the bottom.

Suitable footwear

Hiking boots are not necessary for most of the people who hike the Samaria Gorge. Much of the lower trail is on the rounded rock of the river, and good walking shoes seem to handle them better than boots. If you have a choice, a well-ventilated hiking shoe can come in handy, especially in hot weather. But wear a comfortable, well-broken shoe, and if possible, try it out first by going down a steep hill and see where the unexpected pinch points seem to be.

Wear foot protection

If you have a known hotspot for blisters, wear a moleskin before starting the hike. Some people also put petroleum jelly between their toes or wear double stockings, and this seems to help too.

Use a cane

Use a cane or two, if you like. Help climb along those round rocks. There are also a few ladder bridges (think a ladder set over rocks) towards the end, usually just a foot or two above the water. Not difficult to do, but it was a surprise for me on my first hike! In autumn, the water in the Dictynna River is likely to be minimal. Expect deeper waters in spring.

Buy a sandwich

Buy a mayonnaise-free sandwich from the dining room at the top of the Samaria Gorge, eat half, and then save the rest for when you get to the ancient Samaria village, which is halfway down the gorge. Have a bar of honeysuckle or some other sweet with you for energy.

Start with care

The steepest and most accident-prone section of the Samaria Gorge is right at the beginning, on the so-called “Xyloscalo” or “wooden staircase,” actually a series of shallow terraced steps. Don’t trust the railing with all your weight.

Bring an elastic bandage just in case

If you see a donkey and his servant approaching you in the Xyloscalo, immediately press against the wall and wait until they pass. Don’t let the donkey catch you between itself and the sometimes flimsy wooden railing. Also avoid letting the donkey get close enough for a thread of your clothing to get tangled in your saddlebags, dragging it until it comes loose. Trust me this time. It’s not fun

Bring an elastic bandage just in case

Round stones can turn an ankle. If you are injured and cannot walk, the only way out is via the evacuation donkey (often sharing the rope with the garbage donkey, not recommended).

Not hard, but long

None of the gorges in Samaria is really “hard” except in length. There is only one place you may feel the need to use your hands, and only one very short uphill section – think fifty feet.

Register yourself

There is a trail log in Samaria village in Gorge, most people miss it. It is to the left of the bridge in the direction of the buildings. Here you can also see tame kri-kri goats.

Are you not up to all of this? Take the “easy way”!

Since many people want to see the dramatic “Side Ports” or “Iron Gates” where the walls of the Gorge rise skyward and the path passes through an opening only about nine feet wide, tour companies offer the option traveling by bus to Chora Sfakia, taking a ferry to Agia Roumeli. and walking down the gorge from there. The Sideroportes is about an hour and a half inside the gorge.

Trivia

The name of the Samaria Gorge probably comes from the ancient, probably Minoan word, Samarah, which means “torrent”, but the usual explanation offered is that it is from the church of Saint Mary the Egyptian located near the town of Samaria. (The pronunciation is sa-mar-YA, not sa-mar-ee-a.)

In ancient times, the gorge was home to a famous oracle site that attracted pilgrims from as far away as Libya. There was a temple for Apollo at Caeno, generally regarded as the ranger station area, and an even older one for Dictynna and her daughter Britomartis, Minoan goddesses who once ruled the Gorge.

If you travel in spring, you will notice the dramatic and smelly Dragon Lillies, huge dark red spikes that rise from the leaves with speckled edges and stems. These were believed to be sacred to Apollo, but they were probably originally sacred to Britomartis. Its carrion aroma attracts flies that fertilize flowers like bees.

The giant gray mountain at the beginning of Gorge, Giglio or Sapimenos was thought to be the throne of Zeus in Crete and also the place where he used to conduct horse races. The large rocks at the bottom of the Gorge are said to be its rays.

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