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Gorges to hike and walk near Aïdhonokhórion, in Heraklion region

List of Gorges near Aïdhonokhórion

  • 6.2 km
  • Santorinios Gorge
  • 3 km
  • 1 h

Just a stone’s throw away from Heraklion city, near the Agios Panteleimonas Monastery in Fodele, you’ll find the Santorinios canyon. This canyon carries water from the Marathos village and the western slopes of Platani to the Fodelianos river. Although the canyon is relatively short, it remains unexplored due to the challenging access caused by thick vegetation and numerous ponds. Trekking through the riverbed, despite getting wet, simplifies the journey but calls for a change of footwear. The canyon’s name originates from the soil’s resemblance to that of Santorini Island, which was previously used in Crete’s construction.

Upon entering the gorge, you’ll encounter the ruins of a two-room watermill, its walls still standing tall, supported by an ivy branch woven into them. After some time, you’ll reach the first pond, Azilakokolymbos, which appears to be the path’s endpoint. However, if you manage to bypass the lake by either swimming or rock climbing, there’s more to discover. After overcoming this hurdle, the journey continues smoothly until you reach a majestic waterfall that forms a stunning pond at its base.

The adventure intensifies from this point. To proceed, you’ll need to scale the right side of the waterfall, approximately 15 meters, to reach the hilltop. To access the waterfall’s edge from here, a rope is necessary due to the steep and slippery terrain. As you continue up the canyon, you’ll be greeted by two awe-inspiring twin waterfalls.

  • 8.9 km
  • Zoniana Gorge
  • 6 km
  • 4 h

The Zoniana canyon is situated to the south of Zoniana village within the Psiloritis Range. It begins at a height of 950m, gathering water from several streams that flow from the Zoniana mountains, and concludes at the village at a height of 650m. The “serpentine” river Oaxis, which carries water until spring and ultimately drains into the Geropotamos river, flows through this gorge.

This gorge is not only easily accessible but also safe for hiking due to its gentle slope. The rock formations in many areas are truly remarkable, made up of numerous layers, and there are stunning geological structures and trees clinging to the steep slopes and narrow points. As it nears the village, the canyon broadens and morphs into a slender valley.

  • 10.6 km
  • Spiliotissa Gorge, Rogdia
  • 1.5 km
  • 0.5 h

A petite gorge forms to the west of the Rogdia village and opens up at the Paliokastro area. The journey begins from the ancient Koukos watermill, situated on the primary road linking Rogdia to Achlada, and takes you down to its most striking feature, the 10-meter tall Rechtra waterfall, which can be accessed through a relatively steep descent with ropes. As you traverse down the gorge, you’ll encounter several small waterfalls, the cave-like chapel of Panagia Spiliotissa, and finally arrive at the Paliokastro beach.

One of the most astounding sights is a cave situated right in the heart of the gorge, which has been converted into a studio for creating Christian icons by a hagiographer, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It is highly recommended to stop by this unique site, engage in conversation with the artist, admire the icons, and perhaps purchase a few.

You can also conveniently reach the fall by trekking up the gorge from Paliokastro.

  • 10.9 km
  • Almiros Gorge
  • 3 km
  • 1.5 h

Almyros Gorge, situated in Ellinoperamata, is the closest canyon to the west of Heraklion city. The gorge, a small oasis near the bustling city, is formed between Keri hills and the post-Minoan town of Kastrokefala. It serves as a crucial habitat, primarily due to the largest holly wood (Phillirea media) in Crete located on its eastern side. Other species like platan trees, carob, and wild olive trees also thrive here despite overgrazing.

The gorge has various names, such as Keri Gorge, named after the adjacent hill, or Almiros, due to its closeness to the Almiros river. It’s also called Ellinoperamata, the area where the gorge terminates. Frequently termed Porofarago, a common name for Cretan gorges, it’s also known as the Three Churches, in honor of the three chapels — Santa Marina, St. Antonios, and St. Paraskevi. Its commencement point near the Strouboulas peak gives it the Strouboulas name, while stories of Satanist assemblies and ghost sightings have resulted in its spooky moniker, the Ghosts’ Gorge.

Despite its proximity to Heraklion, few people have ventured here. Cars can reach the location where the 14th-century monastery of Agios Ioannis Farangitis (Saint John inside the Gorge), dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, was constructed near the canyon exit. The surviving chapel of Saint Marina was used as a cemetery, while the main temple was the present two-aisled chapel of Saint Anthony and Saint Paraskevi with significant frescoes. A little further, a shrine dedicated to Saint George can be found, and after nearly 1:30 hours of walking, the chapel of Lord Christ at the gorge’s starting point is reached.

The trail is lined with various trees, and the vegetation thickens as one ascends. Initially, the gorge is typically dry but transitions into a small stream during spring. While ascending, one can encounter three small waterfalls, which form at a site with a pinkish limestone hue after prolonged, heavy rainfall.

Almiros Gorge is a must-visit for adventure seekers and nature lovers. To reach this wild beauty, navigate towards the equally breathtaking Lake of Almiros. Located just a short distance from the path leading to the gorge, this lake is a wonder in itself. The lake’s crystal-clear water, flowing directly from the spring-fed mountain cliffs, offers an extraordinary view all the way to its bed.

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