Samaria Gorge is the largest in Greece (second in length in Europe) and its crossing is the main purpose of the trip of many tourists arriving in Crete.
It is located on the South side of the Prefecture of Chania
Its length reaches 16 km and its descent takes about 5-7 hours, depending on your pace, from Omalos to Agia Roumeli.
The Gorge of Samaria took its name from the small Byzantine church located in the middle of it, built in 1379 and named Osia Maria. The village "Samaria" had been built next to this small church and had taken it’s name from this small church. The village was abandoned by its permanent residents in 1962, with the proclamation of the National Park. Today it is used as a stop by hikers and National Park rangers.
According to others, the name comes from the word "Amara" (as the place where many streams meet, etc.) because the main gorge meets much smaller along the way.
It is estimated that the gorge of Samaria, "o Faragas" as the people of Sfakia call it, was created about 14 million years ago, when the geological rearrangements in the area broke the stone masses.
There are many species of fauna and flora that are endemic to the gorge and the surrounding area with the most famous species being the Cretan Goat, named as “Kri – Kri”.
As the gorge is a national park, you are not allowed to swim in the rivers, camping, bonfires, hunting or overnight. It is also forbidden to cut plants on your way.
The most famous part of the gorge is the place known as Portes (Doors) or Sideroportes (Iron Doors) , where two people with outstretched arms can touch its sides which rise to a height of 600 meters!
You will meet them in about an hour after the "village" of Samaria.
If you feel loved or if you want someone to say to you "I love you", when you arrive at the "Portes" shout loudly "I love you". The echo will definitely reply, not once but many times!
You will find drinking water from built-in fountains almost all the way. There is also toilets in several places across the gorge.
To avoid the heat in the gorge, we recommend that you start the dawn by taking the first bus from Chania.
It will be good to enter the Samaria Gorge lightly dressed, with special hiking shoes (the well-known mountaineering boots), to have light food with you and of course a hat and sunscreen.
The gorge ends at the South Cretan Sea, in the village of Agia Roumeli from where tourists take the return boat that leaves for Chora Sfakion or Sougia.