Crete : Geography & Nature
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Sfakia, South Hania
The Samaria Gorge is one of the longest ravines in Europe (with a total length of 16 km) and offers one of the most spectacular hiking routes in Europe. Its width ranges from 150 m (widest part) to 3 m (narrowest part). The walk from Xyloskalo in the plateau of Omalos to the shores of Libyan sea at Agia Roumeli, takes 6 to 8 hours. The Samaria Gorge has been designated as a national park in order to protect its flora and fauna. It is one of the last shelters of the mountain goat of Crete (Cretan Ibex, common name : kri-kri). The flora is extensive, ranging from high cypress trees to flowers and herbs. The walking path follows the river which flows to small lakes and waterfalls.
The Gorge is open to visitors from May to October.
Kri-Kri or Agrimi
Cretan Ibex, Lefka Ori, Hania
Kri-Kri is the common name of the Cretan feral goat (Capra aegagrus ssp. cretica) which is the largest wild mammal on the island. Its grandeur, its bravery, its ability to observe without being noticed, its speed and its impressive horns are the features that were loved by the locals and made it a symbol of Crete and the untamed Cretan spirit. It lives mainly on the White Mountains and its local name is "Agrimi" (GR: Αγρίμι = the wild one) for the male and "Sanada" (GR: Σανάδα) for the female. Recent years, young kri-kris have approached the old village of Samaria, where they are fed by the park rangers and can be seen by the visitors. Kri-kris and goats are close genetically, as the hybridization that exists between them show. Kri-kri's size however is a good deal larger than that of a goat
Kri-kris have a strong sexual dimorphism. Males are larger than females. They all have horns, with annual rings and knobs, from which their age can be easily calculated. Males have larger horns than females (up to 90 cm), which curve backwards. An other characteristic of the males is the beard, which rarely occurs in females. Their coat is short and brown in summer and brownish and denser in winter. They have a black line on the back, which extends from the neck to the top of the tail while at its shoulders the line intersects with another one that reaches the stomach. There are also black patterns on the front parts of their legs.
There are numerous representations of Kri-kris on ancient sealstones, vases and coins, indicating the esteem in which they were held by the people of antiquity.
Phototograph by Anastassios Sakoulis - www.photophysis.gr
Gramvoussa Cape, Kissamos
West of Kissamos and north of the beautiful village of Kaliviani, stretches the impressive Gramvoussa peninsula. The peninsula is formed by steep rocks and is covered with thyme and origanum bushes and wild flowers. On the north west side of the peninsula opposite to the island of Gramvoussa is the wonderful beach of Balos (GR: Μπάλος). The beach is covered with fine white sand and is located between the two creeks of the Tigani cape. The same white sand covers the bottom of the sea and grants to the sea an emerald color. In front of the beach is the picturesque island of Gramvoussa and on the back is the Geroskinos mountain (altitude 762 m).
The road from Kaliviani is well paved dirt road, with amazing view to the steep rocky seaside of the east side of the peninsula. The road ends one-two km before the beach, and the visitor can follow a paved road to Balos. North of Balos, at the Korykon cape, are the ruins of the small Roman city of Agnion, with a temple of the God Apollo.
There are small boats, offering daily cruises to Balos and Gramvoussa, departing from Kissamos (Kastelli) during the summertime.
Crete's only freshwater lake, Lake Kournás (GR: Λίμνη Κουρνά), is relatively large, with a perimeter of 3.5 km. Although almost all touristic leaflets say that it is possible to walk around the lake, that is not true. At least not at the end of the rain season (winter). There is a nature preserve on the Southwest of the lake. But there is a rustic road from the North of the lake to the Hills on the West of the lake too.
South west Kissamos
Elafonissi is a small islet on the southwest of Crete. It is connected to the beach with a shallow reef (max. depth 1 meter) that allows crossing when the sea is calm. There are only a couple of cantinas on the beach and plenty of places for camping. The place can be accessed by car from the village of Vathi or by boat from Paleohora. There are no permanent inhabitants.
Imbros village and gorge
Sfakia, South Hania
The ravine begins from the last houses of the village of Imbros and 8 km after it ends at the village of Komitades. Its crossing is smooth and entails no danger...
Kalikratis Village & Gorge
Sfakia, South Hania
Kalikratis is a small mountainous village at the foot of the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) at an altitude of 750m above sea level. It is a traditional village with many well preserved stone houses. A German army of two thousand soldiers, invaded the village during the October of 1943 , burned it down and executed twenty men and nine women who did not manage to leave on time.
A little to the south of the village starts the gorge of the same name which is part of the European hiking footpath (E4) and after some 4km walking ends at the village of Patsianos.
Within a few distance from the village of Perivolia, starts the gorgeous canyon of Therisso (Theriano faragi or Eleftherios Venizelos Gorge), which leads to the village of Therisso at 580m a.s.l.
Six kilometers long, the gorge stretches like a snake, with high, almost vertical walls, and rich flora and fauna.It was a difficult to trespass gate, for the invaders, and that is the reason why Therisso was the center of the Cretan rebels during the 19th Century.
The authorities has recently renamed the gorge, giving to it the name of the great Cretan statesman, Eleftherios Venizelos, who's name is strongly related with the area.
The area of Akrotiri
A guide to the area of Akrotiri. Tourist facilities, regional information and image gallery. Akrotiri with its scenic landscape provides a relaxing, refined country break away from the pressures of urban life. Its numerous monasteries, from the oldest in Crete, played a significant role in the history of the area. Gorges of outstanding beauty offer a unique hiking experience, breathtaking views and the joy of exploration...
The traditional little village of Vrisses lies approx. 35 km from Chania town. The old village square with its tall plane trees, the tavernas and kafenions is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the lush green landscape by the river Vrissanos and taste the renowned and particularly delicious local yogurt.
A small village 21km away from Kastelli Kissamou,at 340 m. a.s.l with 57 permanent residents. The village is mentioned by Fr. Barozzi since 1577. A little before the village of Sassalos, starts the gorge of Salasse, a small one which leads to Tyflos river, and is worthy to walk.
Sirikari (GR Σηρικάρι) is a small village located 52 km away from Hania and 14 km from Kastelli at 500m a.s.l. The name Sirikari probably comes from the profession of the first settler, who has to be a silk weaver (Sirikaris).
A short ravine starts from Sirikari and ends close to Polyrinia. There is also a chestnut tree forest, the cave of the Holy Mother (Panagias), the byzantine church of Agii Apostoli, with frescoes of 14th century a monument of great importance and two old factories.
Vlatos is located at 380m a.s.l., 54 km away from Hania and 18 km from Kastelli Kissamou. It is built in a tree covered valley, with olive trees, chestnut trees and wild vegetation. There are some very nice trekking paths around and in the forest of "Peace" which has been characterized as a natural park.
The "Park of Peace" was founded in 1970 by the Cultural Association of Vlatos with the cooparation of Goethe Institute and the support of the Bavarian Department of Forests.
It is an experimental park with 150 species of plants, covers an area of 1,000,000 sq.m. and is part of an extended area of 20 sq.km. which have been reforested.
Park for the Preservation of Flora & Fauna
At a time that living organisms are disappearing at an alarming rate, especially through habitat destruction, the Park for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna of the Technical University of Crete, which extends to 30 hectares, constitutes a small but important area where native plants and co-existing animals are protected and can develop without human intervention.
Up to now 250 different plant species that grow naturally in habitats of the Park have been identified, while their systematic documentation is still in progress.
The development of new ecological units (“habitats”) began in areas of the Park that have been cultivated in the past. These will include plant species of Crete that do not grow naturally in the Park. Two such units, the wetland and the coastal habitats have already been launched.
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