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Gorges to hike and walk near Kritsá, in Lassithi region

List of Gorges near Kritsá

  • 1.5 km
  • Kritsa Gorge
  • 4 km
  • 2.5 h

The Kritsa Gorge, located 9.5km southwest of Agios Nikolaos, begins near the charming village of Kritsa and concludes at Tapes village. This 4 km long gorge, at some points, is only 1.5m wide. It is fairly easy to navigate, with a few areas requiring caution, where large rocks need to be climbed over. However, it is not advisable to visit the gorge following rainfall, as the resulting ponds can obstruct the paths.

The canyon’s entrance near Kritsa is striking. The mountain is split in two, creating the narrow Havgas passage (Havgas is a common term for gorges in East Crete). In addition to the main trail that begins near Kritsa’s stone bridge, there is an alternate path that starts in the village itself.

Close to the trailhead, you’ll find a large rock that can be scaled with relative ease. Beyond this point, the canyon becomes even more breathtaking, with slender passages and towering walls that block out sunlight. This natural wonder is particularly beautiful in spring when flowers are in bloom and water levels are low. The walls eventually recede, revealing a picturesque valley filled with olive groves. If you continue along the riverbed for approximately 1.5 hours, you’ll arrive at the lovely village of Tapes, where you can relax at the local coffee shop.

  • 5.6 km
  • Adrianos Gorge
  • 4.5 km
  • 3.5 h

The Adrianos Gorge originates from the Adrianos village. There are areas within the gorge where large rocks obstruct the pathway, making navigation challenging, but achievable (it takes approximately 3 hours to traverse). In close proximity to the gorge, you can explore the Maridon and Atziganospilios caves.

The river that courses through the gorge is a segment of the Skoulikaris or Xeropotamos River. This river collects water from the Potami village valley and, after covering several kilometers, it finally drains near the Agios Nikolaos town stadium.

  • 9.2 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.

  • 10.5 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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