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Gorge of Samaria

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Hidden : 06/05/2008
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Geocache Description:

The Gorge of Samaria is a national park in the island of Crete (Greece). It is one of the major tourist attractions of the island.

About Gorge of Samaria National Park:

The White Mountains National Park is situated in a rocky, mountainous area in the island of Crete and is characterized by its numerous and impressive gorges. The main gorge, and the most interesting, among those in the central part of the White Mountains is the Gorge of Samaria, by which name the National Park is generally known. This is a perfect combination of natural elements, resulting in a fascinating landscape unique in the Mediterranean region.

The gorge is in the prefecture of Chania in the South West of Crete. The park covers an area of 4.850 ha, which includes the Gorge of Samaria (16 km long), with adjacent forested slopes and precipices. Steep rocky gorges, rushing mountain streams, several freshwater springs and ranges of low hills and valleys form a varied and dramatic topography, while the impressive geomorphological formations, unexplored caves, cultural remainders of the past and unique flora and fauna attract many visitors. The landscape of the park is dramatic and has a great variety of morphological features.

The Gorge begins just below the Omalos Plateau, carved out by the river that flows between the White Mountains (Lefká Óri) and Mount Volikas. Its width varies from 150 m to 3 m and its vertical walls reach 500 m at their highest points.

The upper portions of the gorge are composed of Triassic limestone and dolomite, while the lower parts are of Jurassic limestone with layers of schist; in many places the exposed rock strata are folded and contorted. Some of the numerous caves shelter the wild goat (Capra aegagrus) while others, perhaps of special interest, are still unexplored. The gorge was made a national park to save the wild goat from exstintion.

The National Park contains many endemic species and plant associations and its richness and diversity of biotopes challenge botanists, ecologists and phytogeographers from all over the world.


The Gorge of Samaria National Park is home to the Cretan wild goat (Capra aegagrus creticus) called the Kri-kri. The Kri-kri has a light brownish coat with a darker band around its neck. It has two horns swept back from the head. In the wild, they are shy and rest during the day. They avoid tourists and can leap some distance or climb seemingly sheer cliffs. The Kri-kri is a symbol of the island much used in tourist resorts and official literature, although few tourists or even locals have ever seen one. Hunting them is strictly prohibited.

Informations for visitors:

The trek from Xyloskalo, the name ot the steep wooden staircase that gives acces to the gorge (1.250 m above sea level), to Agia Roumeli et the end of the gorge, takes around six hours. Despite the crowds, a trek through this stupendous gorge is still an experience to remember. An early start helps to avoid the worst of the crowds.

The gorge is wide and open for the first 6 km, until you reach the abandoned village of Samaria. The inhabitants were relocated when the gorge became a national park. The gorge then narrows and becomes more dramatic until, at the 12 km mark, the walls are only 3.5 m apart – the famous Iron Gates. The gorge ends just north of the almost abandoned village of Old Agia Roumeli. From here the path continues to the small village of Agia Roumeli with pebble beach and sparkling sea.

The Samaria gorge is open most years from May until mid-October. The opening date depends on the amount of water in the gorge. Visiting hours are 6 am to 4 pm daily and there is an admission fee. Sensible footwear is essential for walking on the uneven ground covered by sharp stones. There is no need to take water, there are plenty of springs along the way, but there is nowhere to buy food. Spending the night in the gorge is forbidden.

Getting There and Away:

There are excursions to the Samaria gorge from every sizable town and resort on Crete. Most travel agents have two excursions: „Samaria Gorge Long Way“ and „Samaria Gorge Easy Way“. The first comprises the regular trek from the Omalos Plateau to Agia Roumeli, the second starts at Agia Roumeli and takes you as far as the Iron Gates. Obviously it is cheaper to trek the Samaria Gorge under your own steam, and Hania is the most convenient base. There are several buses to Xyloskalo. There is also a direct bus to Xyloskalo from Paleohora. There are boats daily from Agia Roumeli to Hora Sfakion, from where the buses go to Hania. There is also a boat from Agia Roumeli to Paleohora for those coming from this destination.

We hope you enjoy your visiting the gorgeous Gorge of Samaria National Park, one of the most beautiful places of the Mediterranean region.


1) What year was the year when Samaria Gorge was established as a national park ?
2) One of the reasons for making a national park was to save some animal from exstintion. What kind of animal was it ?
3) What kind of geologic process was responsible for the gorge formation ?
4) Standing just in the narrowest part of Samaria Gorge (gr. Sideroportes, eng. Iron Gates – coordinates: N 35° 15.215 E 023° 58.097) on your right hand side in direction of the rivers flow you can see a remarkable part of rock with quite regular and almost horizontal layers of Jurrasic limestone and schist. What colour and thickness (in centimeters) do these layers have got in the height of 1 – 1.5 m above the ground ?


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