Hiking South Western Crete


Mountains I walked over.

South Western Crete is a tough place. It’s hot and its rugged but spectacularly beautiful. A lot of places are still very unspoilt and there is no mass package tourism. It’s mainly independent travelers. Old hippies who’ve been coming to Crete for decades and serious hikers. I would sort of class myself as being in three categories; part beach bum, part ‘local’ and very fond of hiking.

There are lots of levels of walks to do in South Western Crete and I’d advise getting a good walking or hiking guide book on the E4 routes of South Western Crete. Over the years I’ve walked lots of them and while some are very easy, some are very tough indeed. My main advice is go walking in spring or autumn and carry plenty of water. If you are mad enough to go walking in high summer, you need to be an experienced walker as its very brutal walking up and down rugged mountains in Cretan high heat. But, if you like being drenched in sweat and covered in dust from trampsing across rocky hills, just make sure you set off early in the morning. If I’m doing anything over a couple of hours of walking, I set off at around 6 am and I carry around 3 litres of water, just for me, to do it. I would judge 3 litres as for about 4 hours or so in August heat. There are some places where you can find water on route though. Samaria and Agia Ireni gorge both have drinkable water in the gorge.

The only place I wouldn’t recommend anyone going for a hike is Samaria gorge. Not because it’s not fantastically beautiful but because it’s now just a mass tourism hell hole with thousands and thousands going through it every day in high season. The only time I would go again is in spring when it just opens or late season before it closes. Otherwise best avoided.

Agia Ireni gorge is a lovely walk. It’s not difficult and not very long and there’s a gorgeous café just as you get to the end. The French hikers we saw there all had lovely fruit juices and salad as their post hike reward. My friend and I went for ice cold beer and pies (kaltsounia).

Anyways, my only real advice is get a good guide book, some walking poles and always overestimate the amount of water you’ll need. Follow the signs and if you pass a beach, have a swim.

I’m off again to Andros, another fabulous hiking island, next week.