Agia Irini Gorge
The gorge of Agia Irini, unique in beauty and vegetation, is located near the homonymous village at a distance of 43 km from Chania and 17 km from the picturesque village of Sougia with the famous wonderful beach.
Its total length is about 7 km and requires about 3 hours of hiking.
The northern entrance of the path starts just outside the village of Agia Irini and ends at the southern exit which is about 4 km from the beach of Sougia.
The route is easy and beautiful next to the waters of the Agieriniotis river with shade for the most part under plane trees, pines and oleanders.
The gorge is part of the habitat of the Cretan chamois (called “Kri-Kri”) and is characterized by a variety of microenvironment, which are a refuge and habitat for many species of fauna. The richness of the forest vegetation is also characteristic both in terms of trees (Kyparissi, Pine, Sfendami, Platanos, Pournari, Aria), but also of the bushes, phrygana as well as the aromatic plants, especially the dittany (called dictamo).
But the importance of the gorge is not limited to its high biodiversity or aesthetic value, but also to its historical and cultural identity.
At the place "Polla Spitakia" in the gorge, the revolutionaries took refuge during the Turkish occupation and from there begins the path of "Fygou" which was the escape route from the gorge to the area of Omalos.
In the area is the Byzantine church of Christ (1358 AD) and the ruined church of St. Georgiou (1460 A.D).
After about 40 minutes from the beginning of the route you will reach a shaded rest area with toilets, benches and drinkable water.
There are still some rest areas with water (but they do not always work so it is better to carry a small bottle of water). At the south exit there is a small tavern that is open from April to October and serves drinks as well as food.
Advantages of Agia Irini Gorge vs to Samaria Gorge:
- Not very crowded.
- It is less arduous. It is 7 km long instead of 16 km of the of Samaria Gorge.
- The descent is about 500 meters, not 1230, so it is better for your knees.
- It is open almost all year round, compared to the Samaria Gorge which is open from May to October.
- Most of the route is shady, so you can enjoy it on hot summer days.
How to visit Agia Irini gorge from Chania.
If you come from Chania with your own car you can park at the northern entrance of the Gorge where there is free parking. Cross the Gorge and from the exit you can call a taxi from Sougia to get back to your car.
Then with your car, you will return for an enjoyable swim in the clear blue waters of Sougia beach!
For good coffee the best choice is the Lotos Seaside Hotel & café , right in front of the beach.
At Lotos Seaside Hotel & café you will also find wonderful sandwiches, sweet and salty crepes, refreshing natural juices and anything else your soul desires.
Have fun !!