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Gorges to hike and walk near Kissós, in Rethymno region

List of Gorges near Kissós

  • 1.2 km
  • Kissos Gorge
  • 1 km
  • 1.5 h

Located just 1km north of Kissos village in Agios Vasilios province and 34km southeast of Rethymnon, Kissano Gorge serves as a link between Kambos Kissou settlement and the small Gious Kambos plateau. The gorge’s river is a primary tributary of the Gorge Frati. The canyon, though not lush with vegetation, boasts small waterfalls, the tallest of which measure between 5-7m. These waterfalls make it an ideal location for canyoning, but it’s also possible to bypass them carefully from the sides without any specialized equipment.

The journey begins at the Gious Kambos plateau, a small haven of diverse flora. A 0 to 30-minute walk along or beside the riverbed leads you to a point where the river intersects the road connecting Kissos with Gerakari. Here, you’ll find a striking reddish rock peppered with numerous caverns known as Kokkinos Detis, leading locals to also refer to this area as the Kokkinos Detis Gorge.

While this marks the end of the main part of the canyon, the river continues its descent, creating more small waterfalls. It then passes through the 60-hectare artificial pine forest of Vatolakki, before continuing towards Spili and eventually to Frati.

  • 2.0 km
  • Agia Fotia Gorge
  • 1 km
  • 1.5 h

Approximately 1 km to the east of Spili, in the Agios Vassilios province, you’ll find the church of Agia Fotini, also known as Saint Photini. Like many places in Crete, it’s often referred to as Agia Fotia. Situated on the main road leading to Agia Galini, the church is adjacent to a spring that flows with water throughout the year. Nearby, you’ll see a large, old watermill. This area marks the end of the picturesque Agia Fotia gorge, which is small but incredibly lush.

The gorge begins at the Gious Kambos plateau, which is 750m above sea level, and concludes at the spring, which sits at an altitude of 500m, after a 1.5km journey.

Close to the gorge’s starting point, you’ll discover waterfalls of unparalleled beauty. In the springtime, these falls are abundant with water, creating a unique and breathtaking landscape filled with plane trees. The easiest way to reach the waterfalls is by walking from the spring along the gorge. Alternatively, you can access them from Gious Kambos, though this route is more challenging. It requires bypassing the waterfalls from the sides and descending the steep slope to the riverbed.

  • 7.5 km
  • Patsos Gorge
  • 5 km
  • 2.5 h

Located in the stunning province of Amari, the Patsos or Agios Antonios gorge is situated 8 km southwest of Arkadi Monastery. The gorge’s water is collected in the Potami dam. Trekking through the gorge is relatively easy up to a certain point, thanks to a well-marked trail created by the forest service. This trail concludes at the gorge’s narrowest point, where a unique waterfall cascades into a cave. Beyond this point, the gorge narrows and forms several small waterfalls. The descent to the Potami lake demands careful attention, particularly during winter and spring. Another path leads to the avifauna watchtower situated above the river.

The Patsos Gorge is renowned for Agios Antonios’ cavernous temple (Saint Anthony), which was once a sacred cave dedicated to Kraneos Hermes in ancient times. Water seeps from the rocks and drips from the temple roof, accumulating as holy water. It’s fascinating to observe the thousands of prayer papers that devotees have tucked into the rock cavities surrounding the temple. Large plateaus with wooden benches and tables, perfect for picnicking, are located beneath the temple and by the river.

The gorge derives its name from Patsos, a village nestled at the base of Mount Soros at an altitude of 490 meters. It’s approximately 30 km south of Rethymnon. The area boasts a rich variety of flora due to the numerous springs throughout the region that provide a year-round water supply.

  • 7.7 km
  • Swallows' Gorge
  • 6.5 km
  • 4 h

The Swallow Gorge, situated 33km south of Rethymnon city, is in close proximity to the renowned Preveli beach, known for its magnificent palm grove and breathtaking river. The gorge begins from Kenda peak (881m altitude), passes through Drymiskos village, runs nearly parallel to the Kourtaliotiko canyon, and concludes at Drymiskiano Ammoudi beach. It gets its name from the swallows that flock here every summer.

Unlike Kourtaliotiko, this lesser-known canyon is dry during the summer but is still worth a visit. The vertical, awe-striking rocks and the verdant riverbed (which flows in winter) are a sight to behold. The winding Swallow Canyon is relatively easy to hike and doesn’t require any specific skills, despite not being marked.

A significant portion of the canyon runs parallel to the road leading to Amoudi beach, which is where the easy trail to Preveli begins. To find this road, take a left at the picturesque arched bridge of Megalos Potamos that you’ll come across en route to the Preveli monastery. Therefore, even if you’re not much of a walker, you can still enjoy the beauty of the gorge during your visit to Preveli.

  • 8.1 km
  • Smiliano Gorge (Kalamafka)
  • 2.5 km
  • 3 h

Located approximately 100km southwest of Heraklion city, north of Ano Meros village, you’ll find the Kalamafka or Gorge Smiliano. The Lygiotis river, originating from the Gerakari valleys and the Samitos Mount slopes, flows through this gorge. The 2.5km long canyon begins near Vrysses village, close to the deserted settlement of Smile, and concludes north of Ano Meros, accessible via an asphalt road.

During winter, the gorge is filled with water, making entrance risky even for experienced canyoners. However, an alternative route via a dirt road descending from Drygies village leads just above the gorge. Here, the canyon’s steep walls form a slope with a trail, allowing relatively easy descent to the gorge’s heart, precisely at the point where the stunning waterfalls are formed continuously. The gorge comprises about 10 remarkable rappels, with the tallest waterfall being 13 meters. The ponds formed beneath each waterfall are equally breathtaking, and it’s worth noting that Gorge Smiliano boasts the largest and deepest ponds compared to any other gorge in Crete.

A journey through the canyon (as described in June of a particularly rainy year)
Starting near Smile, we first cross a small arched bridge. After just 50m, we enter the gorge’s main section, greeted by a large pond. The canyon then narrows to about 2m and forms a deep pond, 2-3m deep, requiring swimming. The first small rappel we encounter ends in a large, deep pond (perfect for jumping), where the depth exceeds 3m.

Following this, a rock lodged between the canyon walls forms a natural arch. After swimming for several meters (over 25) without touching the ground, we continue our journey unimpeded. We soon encounter the first high waterfall, and the gorge narrows further (1-1.5m). To continue through this narrow section of the canyon, ropes are required. Alternatively, we can walk alongside the canyon until we reach the 15m high rappel that ends in a very deep pond, perfect for a big jump.

The gorge extends eastward, and the deep ponds gradually become small, shallow ponds. Towards the end of the gorge, the water almost disappears, making it impossible to anticipate the aquatic paradise that lies just a few meters ahead.

  • 8.9 km
  • Kourtaliotis Gorge at Preveli
  • 7 km
  • 4 h

Situated 22km south of Rethymno, Kourtaliotis Gorge, with its stunning 3km length, stands as one of Rethymno’s most breathtaking natural wonders. The gorge originates from the village of Koxare, weaving its way between the towering Kouroupa and Koules mountains of the Xiro Oros range. The dramatic cliffs of the gorge, reaching heights of up to 600 meters, house numerous caves and openings, offering a home to a variety of unique fauna.

This majestic landscape is adorned by the Kourtaliotis River, which continues its course until it merges with the Frati Gorge and ultimately leads to Lake Preveli, taking on the name Megalos River in its final stages.

The beauty of this gorge can be experienced by following a paved road that cuts through the canyon. Steps from the Koxare-Asomatos street will guide you to the gorge’s base, where you’ll find the chapel of the local Saint Nicholas Kourtaliotis. One of the standout attractions here are the springs of Kourtaliotis, nestled near the chapel. Further exploration reveals Kourtaliotis’ stunning waterfall, accessible by swimming from a lower river level, leading to a darker, narrower part of the gorge.

A trek along the river takes you to the Megalos River bridge and onwards to Preveli’s palm beach. Kourtaliotiko gorge is a treasure trove of aesthetics, biodiversity, and ecological significance. Beyond its dense Cretan Date Palm trees, the second-largest palm forest on Crete, the gorge’s slopes are home to lush vegetation. The river’s estuary features sand dunes and formations of protected marine plants like Posidonia. It also provides a habitat for local species like the tortoise and freshwater snake.

  • 11.1 km
  • Gorge Kinigospilios at Hordaki

In the quiet, almost abandoned village of Chordaki, located in the Amari district, we discovered the hidden gem of Kynigospilios Canyon. Situated south of the village, this small but stunning canyon remains a secret, its location hidden from view, which contributes to its relative obscurity. The Kynigospilios Canyon boasts a significant water flow from the slopes of Mount Kedros, which lasts from winter through to late spring.

However, traversing the canyon requires the use of ropes and canyoning equipment due to the presence of eight stunning waterfalls along its path, with the last one being particularly breathtaking. Unfortunately, the canyon’s safety measures, installed by canyoners around 2011, are not ideally positioned, making them inaccessible during periods of high water flow. The canyon was christened ‘Koutsouna’ (meaning ‘small’) by the first group to cross it, as they couldn’t find an existing name for it.

At the canyon’s entrance, you’ll find two adjacent watermills, and the surrounding area is lush with greenery, including platans and oaks that provide ample shade. Beneath most of the waterfalls, you’ll find ponds perfect for swimming in the canyon’s crystal-clear river waters. The Kynigospilios Canyon eventually merges into the Platys River bed at its termination point.

  • 11.5 km
  • Kakoperatos Gorge at Agios Vasilios
  • 0.9 km
  • 3 h

Kakoperatos Canyon, situated near the village of Agios Vasilios in the province of the same name, is a tributary of the Megalos River (Kourtaliotis). Its name, which translates to “bad passage” in Greek, indicates the necessity of technical equipment for human access. This stunningly scenic and rugged canyon is perfect for canyoning. It is endowed with water for most of the year and features 7-8 remarkable waterfalls. These create deep ponds filled with clear turquoise waters, making them ideal for jumping.

It’s likely that no other canyon in Crete boasts such vibrant turquoise waters. The canyon’s exit is located adjacent to the last residences of Agios Vasilios, with its stream flowing through the village courtyards!

  • 12.7 km
  • Kaminolakkos Gorge

In northern Rethymnon, beneath the village of Myrthios (not to be confused with the Myrthios near Plakias), a petite ravine teeming with plane trees gives way to a wild and untamed gorge at Kaminolakos. The gorge is typically dry, only filling with water after significant rainfall. It is accessible only with canyoneering gear. This gorge remained unexplored until March 22, 2013, when Christopher Cheiladakis, Argyro Koghylaki, and Rudolf Riegler ventured into it for the first time, installing safety rings in the process.

The initial stretch of the gorge is particularly wild, leading to a series of small rappels before reaching the final waterfall, a towering 55 meters high. This waterfall is nestled under an umbrella of large trees, hidden away in a shadowy enclave. The gorge culminates at the renowned stone bridge of Simas, which is situated on the road to Amari. This bridge, the highest in Crete, is considered an architectural marvel of its time.

  • 14.9 km
  • Arkadi Gorge
  • 4.5 km
  • 2 h

The Arkadi Gorge begins just north of the Arkadi Monastery and offers a picturesque journey of approximately two hours. Certain sections along the gorge’s bed are inaccessible due to waterfalls and dense vegetation, making it possible to walk only along the eastern banks. The hiking trail concludes near the Pikris village where it joins the Gypofarago gorge. Here, visitors can appreciate significant Venetian architectural landmarks. The gorge, with its extraordinary natural beauty, allows visitors to marvel at representative species of Cretan flora and fossils.

A slim area of the gorge can also be viewed by driving to the Arkadi Monastery, as the roadway runs through it. This means you can get a sense of its appearance just by visiting the monastery.

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