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Gorges to hike and walk near Embrósneros, in Chania region

List of Gorges near Embrósneros

  • 11.8 km
  • Kapni Gorge
  • 5 km
  • 4 h

The Kapni Gorge, one of Eastern Sfakia’s most stunning canyons, remains largely undiscovered. The gorge begins as an open stream south of the Akones peak at Hionistra, located on the road between Askyfou and Asfendou villages. It concludes in the village of Nomikiana in the Sfakia province. In Hionistra, two streams in calcareous soils converge to form the Kapni Gorge after an hour’s walk. The canyon is extensive, requiring around four hours to traverse. It is among Crete’s challenging and perilous trekking gorges, with a rugged riverbed that forms dry waterfalls in certain areas, necessitating climbing.

It is not advisable for those inexperienced in mountaineering. The riverbed features several small caves that were previously used as sheepfolds. In one of these caves, there is drinking water, the only source in the harsh Kapni region. This water source is hard to find unless one is very familiar with the area. Kapni is home to beautiful vegetation, including maples and oak trees, and stunning walls of platy limestone in several places.

The name Kapni, meaning smoke, traces back to a story from the Venetian era. East Sfakia was once densely forested, providing refuge for Cretans fighting the Venetians. To counter this, the Venetians burned these forests, including the one in Kapni, which was so dense that the fire burned for weeks. The narrowness of the gorge created an oven-like effect, trapping the fire and significantly raising the temperature. The intense heat baked the mountain rock, similar to a lime kiln, and smoke lingered for days after the fire ceased. That autumn, a massive flood swept through the bare, fire-scorched hillsides, moving rocks with immense force to the gorge’s exit. This event resulted in a large deposit of sediment, creating the most impressive scree (locally known as sara) in Crete, visible from miles away. This scree starts at the gorge’s exit and extends to the village of Nomikiana.

  • 12.4 km
  • Imbros Gorge
  • 11 km
  • 3 h

Situated in the Sfakia province, Imbros Gorge is Crete’s third most frequented gorge, following Samaria Gorge and Agia Irini by Sougia. These are all part of the E4 European hiking path. The gorge’s breathtaking landscape and easy trail make it perfect for family trips. The gorge spans 11 km and the hike takes about 2-3 hours.

The journey begins in the quaint village of Imbros, nestled 700 meters above sea level.

The gorge’s initial section, known as Porofarago or Porolagos, is fairly broad. The trail starts off as a descent with relatively low sidewalls. As you go further, the canyon gradually narrows, the sidewalls rise, and the views become awe-inspiring. The canyon’s sides start to close in and rise, revealing various caves. The vegetation includes ancient cypresses, oaks, and maples emerging from the rocks.

Throughout the gorge, remnants of the old stone-paved path, once the main route from Sfakia to Chania, can be seen. The canyon has witnessed numerous battles between the Ottomans and the Christians during the Turkish Occupation of Crete, notably in 1821 and 1867.

Further along, you’ll pass the spot known as Airplane, where a German plane crashed during World War II (the wreckage is displayed in the war museum at Askyfou). Following this, you’ll come across the gorge’s first narrow passages and then reach the position Gournia (i.e. basins), where several small rock basins fill with water in the winter.

Next, you’ll arrive at the gorge’s most magnificent section, Stenada. Here, the gorge walls close in to 1.6m and reach a height of 300m! The rocks are adorned with stunning formations.

After this narrow stretch, the canyon broadens and you’ll near a rest area at position Mesofarango. Here, you’ll find a Venetian water cistern and the gorge guard’s hut.

A few meters ahead, you’ll cross a landslide and shortly after, the striking narrowing at Gremnaria. Following this, you’ll see another gorge trademark, the stone arch Xepitira. As you continue, you’ll navigate some narrow passages and soon arrive at the gorge’s exit by the village Komitades. Several taverns are located near the exit, providing a perfect spot to rest and grab a bite.

There are multiple bus services from Chania to Imbros during the summer. To catch the bus to Chora Sfakia, Imbros (where many hikers park their cars at the gorge’s entrance), or Chania, you’ll need to either walk 4 kilometers towards Chora Sfakion (be sure to check the schedules) or take a taxi from the gorge’s exit (which can be quite pricey).

  • 13.3 km
  • Diktamos Gorge
  • 7.5 km
  • 3 h

The Diktamos Canyon, nestled within the White Mountains, commences 21km to the east of Chania, near the Katochori village at an elevation of 300m. It concludes 8km further east, at the Faragi village, situated at a height of 40m and in close proximity to the Stylos village in the Apokoronas province. Consequently, it is also referred to as the Katechori Gorge or Stylos Gorge. The canyon’s stream serves as the primary tributary of the Kiliaris River, gathering water from the northern slopes of the Mavri peak and discharging it onto the Kalives beach.

Navigating through the canyon can be challenging, with certain areas requiring extra caution and approximately 3 hours to traverse. The canyon is a stunning, verdant landscape filled with towering trees and steep inclines, home to dittany or diktamos, a herb endemic to Crete. In Stylos, you have the opportunity to explore the ancient church of Apostle John (Agios Ioannis Theologos), refresh yourself at the local springs, and replenish your energy at the village’s taverns.

  • 14.2 km
  • Sfakiano Gorge
  • 6.5 km
  • 4 h

The Sfakiano Gorge, also known as Gorge Vartholoma or Gorge Lago, concludes around 2km east of Chora Sfakion within the Sfakia province. It originates from the Trikoukia area of the White Mountains at a height of 1200 meters and culminates at the Fylaki Caves of the South Cretan Sea. The gorge spans 6.5km and it’s a breeze to traverse along its riverbank.

The suggested hiking trail within the gorge initiates from the Niato plateau (close to Askifou Plateau) and heads towards the abandoned village of Kali Lakki. The gorge, one of Crete’s greenest, begins just before reaching Kali Laki and boasts an incredibly diverse plant life. Oaks, cypresses, and pines are the dominant trees within the Sfakiano Gorge.

The gorge’s starting point is home to the Byzantine church of Saint Paul (Agios Pavlos), constructed by the locals in 1407. The gorge meets the main road to Chora Sfakion near the exit, at the Porolago location. It’s certainly worthwhile to continue your adventure towards the sea, as the gorge bed leads to the breathtakingly beautiful Fylaki fjords, some of the most captivating beaches in the Sfakia region.

  • 14.9 km
  • Kallikratis Gorge
  • 6.5 km
  • 3 h

The Kallikratis Canyon, a relatively small gorge located in the southeast of Lefka Ori (White Mountains) in the Sfakia province, forms part of the E4 European walking route. It serves as a passageway connecting the mountain pasture lands with the lowland villages of the Frangokastelo plain. A hike through this gorge offers a delightful walk and stunning views of the South Cretan Sea. The entrance to the canyon is situated at the Kallikratis plateau, accessible via a paved road from Askyfou, Asi Gonia, or Frangokastelo.

Kallikratis is home to the charming Panagia church, and from here, you can begin your descent through the gorge, which concludes in the village of Patsianos. From Kallikratis village, follow the asphalt road leading to Patsianos that runs parallel to the gorge bed. At certain points, you will need to follow the riverbed, which gradually deepens, with the road rising high above you. After about half an hour, the road will have risen considerably to the left, and the stream will be fairly deep. The trail has been slightly modified in some places due to debris from road construction.

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