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Gorges to hike and walk near Kastamonítsa, in Heraklion region

List of Gorges near Kastamonítsa

  • 7.3 km
  • Roza Gorge
  • 2 km
  • 2 h

Roza Gorge, a branch of the larger Ambelos Gorge, originates near the Panagia Kera Kardiotissa Monastery in the Ano Kera region. It connects with the rural road that traverses the Ambelos Gorge close to the village of Gonies. Walking along the riverbed is not feasible due to the precipitous drops, but a well-marked hiking trail is available on the gorge’s sides. The gorge’s sides are visually striking, showcasing unique geological formations that captivate visitors. After heavy rainfall, surface water is visible in the gorge, evidenced by the growth of oleander plants in the riverbed.

The name ‘Roza’ is derived from the pinkish hue (‘roz’ translates to pink) of the gorge’s walls. Another theory suggests that the gorge was used as a disposal site for sterile animals like donkeys in the past. As a result, locals named it ‘Stira Za’ (meaning sterile animals), which eventually evolved into ‘Sti Roza’ (or in Roza).

Canyoning in the Roza Gorge
Roza Gorge is technical in nature, implying that hiking in its bed is not an option due to the numerous steep descents (rappels) that necessitate specific technical gear and training. For canyoning enthusiasts, it’s important to note that the largest rappel is approximately 18m high. The points are secured with relays from the speleological clubs of Crete, and the descent for a small group typically takes around 3 hours. The gorge’s proximity to Heraklion and easy accessibility make it a popular choice for canyoning schools.

  • 8.0 km
  • Embasa Gorge
  • 2 km
  • 1 h

The Embasa Gorge, also known as Apotyposi, begins its journey from the village of Kato Kera in the Pediada province and concludes near the village of Gonies, spanning a length of approximately 2km. The upper section of the gorge is notably steep, giving rise to several waterfalls during the winter season, with the tallest one measuring around 20m in height. The largest waterfall is particularly intriguing due to its division into several smaller cascades. It is possible to reach all the waterfalls without any special equipment as they can be circumvented from the sides.

Ascending the canyon from Gonies provides easier access to the waterfalls. However, the dense vegetation and steep inclines may pose a challenge for beginners. The gorge is predominantly populated by oak trees, planes, and brambles. The Life-Giving Spring church (Zoodohos Pigi) is located on the edges of the gorge, above the largest waterfall. According to local lore, a natural rock formation resembling the Virgin Mary can be found above this church. Hence, the gorge is also referred to as Apotiposi (Depiction). The church serves as the nearest parking spot to the large waterfall and can be conveniently reached from here, provided one can first overcome the initial hurdle of the fence erected by local shepherds.

  • 11.9 km
  • Aposelemis Gorge
  • 6 km
  • 2.5 h

The Aposelemis Canyon, also known as the longest and most significant geological canyon in the northern part of the Heraklion prefecture, terminates at the settlement of Agrianá (locally known as Adrianna), near Hersonissos. The Aposelemis River traverses this canyon, though water is only present in parts of the canyon following heavy rainfall. However, the river at higher altitudes retains water throughout the wet months, thanks to the phyllite rocks. Despite its length, accessibility, and proximity to Heraklion, the canyon remains relatively undiscovered by the local population. The Aposelemis Canyon is characterized by strikingly beautiful and imposing vertical walls that reach up to 200 meters in height, along with several rock shelters. The canyon floor is smooth throughout, posing no technical challenges. In recent times, the Hersonissos Municipality has constructed a lovely trail along the canyon floor, making the walk both enjoyable and easy. The trail also features recreational areas with wooden benches at the start and end points.

This crucial ecosystem is home to waterfowl and birds of prey. A hidden riparian forest, particularly in the upper region of the canyon, is the real gem. The mixed forest is made up of ancient trees with massive trunks, truly natural marvels. Trees such as the plane, holm oak, oak, holly, carob, osier, among others, can be found here. The dense forest often obscures the trail. An old stone bridge, Xerokamares, is located just before the southern entrance, within the river. The most convenient way to access the canyon is via its northern exit. A dirt road from the bridge of the old national road leads to the Aposelemis gorge. Following this dirt road, you’ll pass the picturesque yet ruined settlement of Plevris, and eventually reach the bridge of the new highway, where the trail begins. It takes at least two hours to traverse the gorge.

  • 12.3 km
  • Eligas Gorge
  • 3 h

Eligas Gorge, a stunning natural monument, is nestled on the western side of Koupa Mountain, just above the village of Miliaradon in Embaros. This remarkable location boasts a towering waterfall with nine rappels, making it a perfect spot for canyoning. The altitude difference from the entrance to the exit is approximately 230m.

Eligas is just one of numerous waterfalls in the vicinity, standing tall at 150 meters. It cascades down in 5-6 stages, with the largest drop being 50 meters.

During the winter, the waterfall is fed by crystal clear water from the local ‘Papa Lagos’ springs. On exiting the gorge, it merges with the Baritis River, a primary tributary of the Anapodaris River.

In the Cretan dialect, Eligas translates to ‘waterfall’. The gorge is unique due to its distinctive formations, created by layers of limestone that resemble a vast open-air theatre with stone tiers.

A trail from Miliaradon village leads to the base of the waterfall. From there, visitors can ascend to its highest points, offering a breathtaking view of the impressive waterfall and the Baritis-irrigated plain villages.

  • 12.4 km
  • Erganos Gorge
  • 3 km
  • 3 h

On the southeastern side of the Afendis Christos peak, nestled above the villages of Embaros, you’ll discover lush vineyards sprawled across the Erganos plateau at an elevation of 900 meters. The water, collected from the melting snow of the nearby slopes and numerous regional springs, contributes to the main tributary of the Anapodaris river, Baritis. This river traverses the Erganos plateau, carving out the striking Erganos canyon.

The Erganos canyon, adorned with flourishing plane trees, cypresses, and oaks, is a natural gem in this region. However, it is only navigable for a small portion, suitable for trekkers. After the initial 20-minute descent, the scenery transforms, revealing a unique natural sculpture with slender walls and spectacular waterfalls at nine different points. To navigate these areas, rappelling equipment is necessary.

  • 14.2 km
  • Havgas Gorge
  • 2 km
  • 1 h

Situated between the peaks of Katharios Lakkos and Katharia Kefala in the Dikti Range, Havgas Gorge is a prominent long gorge on the Lassithi Plateau. The gorge is nourished by the Megalos or Xenikos river, which springs from the Katharo plateau, courses through the Lassithi Plateau, and then vanishes into the sinkhole Chonos. The water resurfaces from Fleves springs at Kastamonitsa or a man-made water pipe at Gonies and ultimately drains into the Aposelemis dam lake. The name “havgas”, along with its variants, is typically used to refer to gorges in Eastern Crete.

Spanning about 4 km, Havgas Gorge provides a leisurely walk, especially at the exit where it widens and showcases striking landslides on its flanks. As you advance, the gorge abruptly tightens, leading to the scenic Neraidokolimbos lake, situated at the foot of a charming waterfall with a round boulder. According to local folklore, the gorge’s fairies used to bathe in this lake.

Next to Neraidokolimbos is the Plystra side gorge, recognized for its successive waterfalls that flow into the main stream of Havgas. Above the gorge, there is a singular waterfall named after Plystra, known to drip water even during the dry summer months. As per the legend, this is where fairies used to wash their clothes.

The gorge, a part of the E4 trail, offers a tranquil landscape due to the lack of crowds. It is home to a variety of trees, mainly maples and holm oaks. The river is seasonal and only flows following substantial rain or snow, whereas Neraidokolymbos lake retains water throughout the year.

Travelers usually start their journey from the exit point near the reservoirs of Agios Georgios village. Another alternative is to commence from the Katharo plateau and descend along the riverbed. However, reaching Neraidokolymbos may necessitate a jump into the water or retracing one’s steps.

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