Running from the interior highlands to the remote coastal village of Agia Roumeli south coast, the Samaria Gorge is considered to be Europe’s longest ravine. It’s also a must-do activity for many keen walkers who come to Crete. I can certainly testify that the often ridiculously early start times for a hike through the gorge do not deter visitors – we had a 3am pick-up and by the time we started walking from Omalos in the half-light of the early dawn, a few busloads of walkers were tying up their boot laces and heading off in the same direction.
The Samaria Gorge is a long trail but technically not a difficult one. From Omalos the 16km trail follows a fairly gentle descent, first through wide open terrain before eventually reaching the most narrow, dramatic section of the gorge (known as ‘the Iron Gates’). The hike takes around 5 hours and a very early start is advised so that walkers miss out on the most intense heat of the day; the usual common sense advice (good footwear, plenty of water) applies. Agia Roumeli has a beach and a few tavernas and is a pleasant enough place to while away a few hours waiting for the boat to begin the return journey.