Crete is the island of gorges and canyons, some long and deep like Samaria Gorge in the Levka Ori Range of the west of the island, some short and steep like Ha Canyon in the Oros Thripti Range in the east. All of the many canyons are cut deep into the limestone rock, which is the foundation of Crete and you certainly can say that most of them are impressive.
Crete's third highest Range, Oros Dikti is located in the east, above the Ierapetra Isthmus and it is best known for the Lasithi Plateau at 1500m, an almost circular plain, surrounded by the range's highest mountain. But as any mountain range on Crete Dikti also owns its canyons some of which can compete with the better known ones in the west.
To the south-west of the Dikti Range, where it almost runs out intoi the plains around the Isthmus of Ierapetra, close to the village Mithi there is the Sarakinas Gorge (Farangi Sarakinas), a short but impressive canyon. Its walls tower several hundred metres above the Mirtos Potamos Creek, sometimes overhanging and often swallowing all light at the base.
As is often the case with Crete's canyons, Farangi Sarakinas is made up from several different sections. At the broad mouth there is a small water reservoir, taking up almost all the width of the gorge. Once it is passed you enter a flat but dark and narrow section where the overhanging walls can be touched simultaneously. The canyon opens as the walls draw back and a maze of boulders blocks the way. A few climbing moves later you reach another flat section and again the walls start to close in, finally crowding out light again, but this time only for a few steps. Finally you reach a huge boulder field where the gorge steeply rises towards its end.
Getting ThereThere are two international airports on Crete, both in the north of the island. One is at Chania in the west, the other is at Heraklion in the centre.
There are myriads of ferries in Greece, which connect the many islands of the country. Consequently there are many ferry harbours and Crete is no exception. However, most of the smaller harbours only cater for transportation to the other islands while the major lines to the mainland are reserved to two harbours, Souda near Chania and Heraklion. Both serve connections to Peiraias and Thessaloniki.
- From Heraklion toke motorway E75 east to Agriana
- Seitch to highway 92 south direction Kastelli
- Pass the military airfield at Kastelli going south to Karavados and Martha.
- Switch to highway 97 east, direction Ierapetra
- At Mournies turn off north to Mithi
- The gorge starts about 1km north of the village
There is no red tape to be found here. At there is a water reservoir at the mouth of the gorge please behave responsibly in the gorge.
AccommodationYou can quite easily find hotel rooms and apartments everywhere on the coasts. All European travel companies offer accommodation so a visit to your nearest travel office will find you some. In the mountain villages there always are inns and if everything fails you can pitch a tent. Kritsa is located close to Agios Nikolaos, the main tourist hotspot in the east of Crete. You might want to look for accommodation there.
There are abundant campgrounds along the coast and on many of the beaches you can pitch your tent. The touristic beaches in the north and the beaches in the vicinity of tourist towns are mostly off-limits but there is many a cove which you can use. In the mountains you will often find cattle (goat and sheep) fences which you should respect. There is many a green meadow in one of the plains but you should be aware that you’ll be woken up by goats. Again, in the vicinity of villages, rather ask the locals if you can use their land.
Sarakinas Gorge is not far from the south coast of the island, close to the town of Ierapetra. Here and in its vicinity there are all kinds of rooms and apartments, even campgrounds to be found. The mountain villages close to the gorge also have an inn or two and even here you might be able to find a bed.
Maps & BooksThere are quite a number of maps and books out there, which deal with the island of Crete and naturally I don’t know them all. This is the list of maps and books which I used and I appreciate it very much if you can add to it
Unfortunately there are no decent topographic maps of Crete. The best maps I could find are scaled 1:100000 and contain the main hiking routes on the island. In one case the map showed wrong paths and roads (exchanged them) but in general they were quite useful. In any case they were better than the Anvasi Maps, also scaled 1:100000, which claim to be topographic maps but miss routes and even mountains
- Kreta / Crete / ΚΡΗΤΗ Eastern Part
Since there are no good topographical maps of Crete you should take care to get a good guidebook. The ones I used have good tour suggestions though the descriptions often are somewhat shortish and can be misleading. The books are available in German and English.
- Kreta Ost / Crete East
Gert Hirner / Jakob Murböck (translation: Gill Round)