One of the most exciting experiences in Crete, hiking in the Samaria Gorge, the longest in all of Europe. This is the second most popular attraction of the island and attracts every year about half a million visitors. It need not be a mathematician to calculate the number of tourists who walk the canyon during the summer months. If you think that amounts to thousands every day, can easily do the calculations.

The best time to visit is late spring or early autumn, and have the opportunity to appreciate its greatness and enjoy more privacy. Even if you need to travel on with so many people, is something definitely worth it.

Overall the route is 17 km and more to cover in 5-7 hours. In some places the ground is rough and not easy to walk, but enough to have a good physical condition and be careful. Wear hiking shoes and take your food and water - although you will find water sources along the route.

It started a long and marked parking area south of the village Smooth, where accommodation is available, provided you book in advance. This way you can prevent the crowds starting in the early morning. The canyon opens at 6:00 a.m. Keep your ticket because you will need later.

From the car park go straight to where it says "Xiloskalo. He is in fact a steep fidoto path that is dug into the rock and has both sides of the wooden railing for support and protection. This item is one of the most spectacular route, as the canyon descends to a depth of 700 m after only 3 km hike. In the background lies the church of St. Nicholas, where there are benches if you need some rest after a difficult descent.

In the course of the path and let out a little running in a horizontal ground when we head to one when the other side of the stream flowing in the middle of the canyon. In winter and early spring when the snow melts the stream becomes a raging torrent, which is why the canyon is closed until May.

After hiking 6.5 km deep in the canyon to the left of the trail you'll see the abandoned village of Samaria, whose residents fled in 1962 when the canyon was declared a national park.

After waiting the most shocking part of the route, a place where the canyon narrows so much that the so-called Sideroportes reaches only 3m wide and imposing walls rise 300 meters above. Then let out again and enter a more open valley, where there is another abandoned village of Samaria. There for security reasons you have to take your ticket, so be sure you got out of the gorge.

Twenty minutes away is the village of Agia Roumeli and Sea - cool and sexy for your tired feet. There are rooms for rent, boats and you go to other coastal villages (mainly in Chora Sfakia) where you can return to Chania and Rethymno bus. Buses link the gorge with the surrounding villages and towns every evening in summer.

Source: Journal RAM, June 2004 Issue