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Gorges to hike and walk near Gra Liyiá, in Lassithi region

List of Gorges near Gra Liyiá

  • 7.9 km
  • Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka)

The Havgas Gorge, situated near the village of Kalamafka and just 12km north of Ierapetra city, is one of several gorges with the same name scattered across Crete. Other examples include the Havgas Gorge in the Lassithi Plateau, Plaka, and Kavoussi. The Havgas Gorge is nestled between the Megali Korfi (1103m) and Kokies (993m) peaks, and its stream, the Kapsous, serves as the primary tributary of the Kalamavkianos River that empties into the Stomio beach of Gra Ligia.

This stunning canyon boasts unique rock formations, sculpted by rare geological events. Many of these rocks are adorned with nature’s own “artwork”, etched over time by the elements. Despite its relatively short length, the gorge offers an easy and enjoyable walk along the riverbed, even for novices. The area’s altitude of around 500m provides the perfect environment for a lush pine forest. Regrettably, repeated fires have caused the forest to diminish in size. Nevertheless, the area is worth a visit, and visitors are sure to be charmed by the sight of small pine trees sprouting from the rocks, akin to bonsai trees.

The gorge’s depth extends to 300m. At one spot, two narrow rocks form the entrance to a series of caves that served as a refuge for Cretan rebels and Allies during the German Occupation. The locals refer to this area as the “Chinese Landscape”, due to the smooth rocks dotted with bonsai-like trees. Adjacent to the gorge’s exit, visitors can explore the village of Kalamafka with its inviting taverns and babbling water. Additionally, nearby attractions include an ancient olive oil mill and the churches of Saint John and Saint Anthony.

  • 9.3 km
  • Sarakina Gorge
  • 1.5 km
  • 1 h

This magnificent natural phenomenon – Sarakina Gorge – can be found near the traditional village of Mythi and the coastal settlement of Myrtos, where the Kryos river merges with the sea.

As the tale goes in Greek mythology, Zeus’s son, the giant Sarantapihos, once paused to quench his thirst from the Myrtos or Kryos river, near Ierapetra. His sweeping beard slashed the mountain, dividing it into two parts, thereby forming the Sarakina canyon.

Regarded by many visitors as Crete’s most captivating hiking gorge, Sarakina may only stretch 1.5km, but within this concise journey, one encounters an awe-inspiring spectacle of nature, a natural sculpture painstakingly crafted by water over countless years. The canyon boasts towering walls that rise up to 150m high and extremely narrow passages often found in technical gorges that require canyoneering equipment. The width of Sarakina fluctuates between 3 to 10 meters, rarely extending beyond these points.

The majority of the canyon is accessible to explorers of all abilities, featuring water, pools, and a handful of climbing points that necessitate careful navigation. A standout feature is the abundant water almost all year round, creating picturesque waterfalls and ponds perfect for a refreshing dip, even in the summer. In winter, traversing the gorge without getting soaked is a challenge. As one embarks on the route, they’ll encounter the need to climb, navigate immense boulders, and cross rocky bridges. Carved stone stairs and tree trunks are present in tricky spots to facilitate easier climbing.

  • 14.5 km
  • Milonas Gorge
  • 1.5 km
  • 0.5 h

The Mylonas or Saint John Gorge is situated 18km to the east of Ierapetra. It commences near the St. John village at a height of 500m and concludes at the Kakia Skala beach. It is not feasible to descend the gorge from Saint John due to a tall waterfall, necessitating the use of canyoning equipment.

Nonetheless, there are two ascending trails that start near the Kakia Skala beach, providing access to the high fall of the Mylonas canyon. The first trail (easy – 20’) takes you through the pine-wooded side of the gorge, a large portion of which is the old concrete ditch, formerly used to transport water to Koutsounari. The other trail follows the riverbed and can be quite exhausting, especially in winter (takes approximately 1:30 hour).

Upon reaching the end of the ascending trails at a height of 300m, you will encounter the tall fall of Milonas, which stands at 20m. Below it, you will find a small pond filled with crystal-clear water, perfect for a refreshing swim. In winter, and after heavy rainfall, a second waterfall appears to the left of the main fall, creating a breathtaking view.

  • 14.7 km
  • Holy Apostles Gorge (Lapathos)
  • 4 km
  • 5 h

The Holy Apostles (Agii Apostoli) or Lapathos Gorge is situated on the southern part of Mount Dikti, 28km to the west of Ierapetra and 72km to the south of Heraklion, in the broader vicinity of the village of Kato Simi. This is a technical canyon, implying that crossing it necessitates technical gear and specific training. The Lapathos canyon is an ideal challenge for highly skilled canyoners. It spans approximately 4km and there is a height difference of about 900m between the start and finish points.

The canyon originates from the small plateau of Lapathos, where the Holy Apostles church stands, and concludes on the road that links the village of Pefkos with Ierapetra. Although it’s typically a dry canyon, in 2009, the team of seasoned canyoners Vassilis Vagias, Savvas Paragamian, and Giannis Skondinakis discovered it to contain surprisingly large amounts of water.

The gorge features 28 steep descents that demand excellent rappelling skills. The tallest rappel is 80m, making it one of the highest in all of Crete. The sheer walls of Lapathos serve as nesting grounds for a variety of birds including vultures, hawks, and crows. Towards the gorge’s exit, the vegetation is predominantly made up of pines and cypresses. Following the exit, the stream continues its journey to Tertsa beach.

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