Along the way, the stone walls of the gorge close over the trail, at some points reduced to only a couple of feet wide. At their most impressively narrow, the craggy canyon walls are known as the Iron Gates. Water fills the stream in spring, while in summer the riverbed rocks become stepping stones. And at the end of the trail, in Agia Roumeli, the beach offers hikers a chance to revive with a refreshing dip in the sea.
Samaria Gorge and its rare wild kri-kri goats are protected by national park on Crete’s southwest coast, between the towns of Agia Roumeli and Sougia. Many walkers hike the gorge as part of an organized tour, though it’s possible to get there independently via the towns of Omalos or Agia Roumeli. Buses run to the head of the gorge at Xyloskalo from Omalos, and Agia Roumeli connects to Hora Sfakon by ferry.
As you’re unable to spend the night in the gorge, this is a day walk only, taking 4.5 to six hours. Bring your sturdy boots, sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water and food – and stick to the trail! If the going gets too tough, there are park wardens on donkeys to rescue you.