Walking in Western Crete

Magnificent monasteries, gorgeous gorges and captivating coastlines

CreteSpecial Interest Holidays & Escorted Tours

Crete has a wealth of walks in an astonishing variety of landscapes, and there is no better way of enjoying them than in the convivial company of a small group of like-minded people, led by a guide who really understands the terrain. Having lived in Crete for several years in his younger days, our MD Ghislain knows the island and its people extremely well. Over the past few years, he has guided our popular walking holidays in Turkey, based at our exclusive Mandarin & Mango Boutique Hotels. For 2017, he is looking forward to bringing the same passion, knowledge and enthusiasm to our new Cretan itineraries. Our Western Crete walks follow in the footsteps of Zorbas the Greek and the rebel leader Daskaloyiannis.

Western Crete is dominated by the majestic Lefka Ori, the White Mountains which provide an imposing ever-present backdrop to the scenery. We spend the first couple of days in the north-west, exploring the gentle rolling hills of the Akrotiri peninsula - known for its beautiful monasteries and exuberant displays of wildflowers - and visiting the sophisticated former island capital Chania. We then cross to the south via the spectacular Samaria Gorge and spend the remainder of the week roaming the gloriously unspoilt south coast, based in picture-postcard villages that can only be accessed by boat or on foot!

The exact itinerary is of course dependent on local conditions at the time but there will be five full-day walks, taking in a variety of terrain, and one free day. The main aim of the walks is to enjoy and appreciate the countryside rather than to test your endurance, but naturally a reasonable level of fitness and stamina are required, as are suitable footwear and clothing. Daily distances covered range from 9 km to 18 km and whilst there are no steep climbs, some of the walks involve steady ascents and/or descents as well as some rough paths.

Overnight stays are in three separate locations, with two or three nights in each. Each room has its own bath or shower room, although in some cases these may be adjacent rather than en-suite. Breakfast is included throughout; other meals are payable locally. For dinner we will visit authentic local tavernas; where there are no suitable taverna stops for lunch, you will have the opportunity to purchase a picnic. The majority of walks start and/or end at our accommodation; for any that do not, private minibus transfers are included.

Itinerary

Tuesday: Arrival at Chania Airport and transfer to accommodation. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Overnight at Alma's Villas.

Wednesday: The rolling hills of the Akrotiri Peninsula provide a fairly gentle warm-up for our holiday. A short transfer takes us to the monastery of Agia Triada, and after a brief visit we walk via the monasteries of Gouvernetou and Katoliko to Stavros beach, famed as the setting of the movie Zorbas the Greek. In the afternoon, we visit the island's former capital, Chania, with its picturesque Venetian harbour. Total walking distance approximately 14 km. Overnight at walking holidays in TurkeyAlma's Villas.

Thursday: After breakfast, our minibus takes us to Omalos, the starting point of our 18-km walk through the Samaria Gorge. Designated a National Park as far back as 1962, Samaria is one of Europe's longest gorges and undoubtedly one of Crete's greatest natural attractions. At its most spectacular point, known as The Gates, the gorge is just 4 metres wide, enclosed by cliffs soaring to a height of 300 metres on both sides. Our walk commences at an altitude of 1250 metres on the Omalos plateau and ends at sea level in the small village of Agia Roumeli, from where most day-trippers then depart by boat to return to their resorts, but we will spend the next two nights here, staying in a small B&B hotel. NB: You will need to carry any essential personal belongings for these two days in your rucksack; the remainder of your luggage will be transported directly from Alma's Villas to Loutro.

Friday: A mainly coastal walk heading west from Agia Roumeli for approximately 9 km to the beach of Domata. Here, we will have time to enjoy a swim and a picnic before returning by boat to Agia Roumeli, where we overnight again.

Saturday: Another primarily coastal walk, this time heading east for approximately 18 km via Agios Pavlos, Marmara and Likos to the picture-postcard village of Loutro, which like Agia Roumeli, can only be accessed by boat or on foot. Overnight at walking holidays in TurkeyHotel Porto Loutro I.

Sunday: A 16-km walk heading inland to Anopoli, returning via the gorge of Aradena to Livathiana and back to Loutro. Overnight at Hotel Porto Loutro I.

Monday: A free day to enjoy the beach in Loutro or to further explore the surrounding area and other nearby beaches at your leisure. Overnight at Hotel Porto Loutro I.

Tuesday: Morning ferry from Loutro to Hora Sfakion and transfer back to Chania Airport for your flight home.

The itinerary is subject to change according to local conditions. Please note that the official opening date for the Samaria Gorge is 1st May, and weather permitting, the gorge often opens in April; however in years of exceptional winter rains or snowfalls the gorge's opening may be delayed for safety reasons.

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This holiday can be combined with our Walking in Central Crete itinerary to form a two-week walking holiday, whilst guests wishing to spend more time relaxing at the beginning or end of their holiday can extend this itinerary with a longer stay at Alma's Villas, Porto Loutro or one of our other locations. Please enquire for details or a quote.