The longest gorge in all of Europe, the hike itself is 13km in length but once finished there is another 3km to the sleepy seaside village of Agia Roumeli where the boats await the weary masses returning to their destinations. Most people in good physical condition take about 5 or 6 hours to complete the path. A good portion of Samaria is actually downhill; although slippery at times it is marked well and has stone stairs for a long section. The most precarious stretch is found at the bottom of the descent in the riverbed where you are forced to climb over a number of large rocks and boulders leading to the 'Iron Gates' of Samaria. Easily the most photographed part of the gorge, this is where its sides draw together leaving a gap of only four meters between them, yet soaring to a height of approximately 1,100 meters.
Samaria is easily accessible by bus from just about any village in Western Crete and the bus schedules can be found at the main bus terminal in Hania or at any reputable travel agency. At the end of the hike visitors will typically take a ferry boat from Agia Roumeli to the nearby village of Sfakia from where they can return to Hania or another city. Those who take their cars will have to find a way back to the Omalos plateau where the descent begins and for this reason most opt to take the bus.
*It is essential to bring adequate water for the hike, particularly in the hot summer months. There is a market at Omalos where visitors can buy water and other beverages as well as a light snack and memorabilia.
Samaria National Park Management Body
Nikolaou Plastira 10
Chania 73134, Crete, Greece
Tel: +30 28210 45570