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Gorges to hike and walk near Tsoútsouros, in Heraklion region

List of Gorges near Tsoútsouros

  • 860 m
  • Tsoutsouras Gorge
  • 1.5 km
  • 2.5 h

Situated in the eastern region of the Asterousia range, the Tsoutsouras Canyon is nestled within the Tsoutsouras area. This canyon is one of the many inaccessible ones in the region, initiating at the Sfakias position and culminating near the Larinaki area, close to the settlement. The sight of it can be quite breathtaking at first glance.

Despite its relatively short length of 1.5km, the Tsoutsouras Canyon serves as an excellent training ground for those new to canyoning. It’s a technical gorge, implying that the only way to navigate it is through the use of canyoning ropes. There are 12 descents or rappels within the canyon, with the highest one towering at 30m.

The majority of these rappels are found near the canyon’s exit, where the gorge deepens and the rocks display a stunning array of colors. During spring, the presence of water enhances the experience of rappelling down the waterfalls, making it truly unforgettable.

  • 1.7 km
  • Troulla Gorge
  • 0.7 km
  • 2 h

A few kilometres west of Tsoutsouras gorge in the eastern Asterousia range, you’ll find the smaller and narrower Troulla gorge. Though it’s shorter than the Tsoutsouros canyon, it has captivated the hearts of canyoners with its over 15 stunning waterfalls, the tallest reaching 15m. Its close proximity to the Tsoutsouras Canyon makes its geological features similar. It was endearingly named Tsoutsouraki, meaning small Tsoutsouras, by the first group to traverse it.

The entrance to the gorge is situated just west of a remarkable rock known as Troulla near Tsoutsouras, at a location called Meli Lakos (Honey’s Pit). The exit is located in the area of Staoussa, adjacent to the village. Descending the gorge requires technical canyoning equipment, particularly during the winter when the waterfalls are in full flow.

  • 2.1 km
  • Mindris Gorge
  • 7 km
  • 4 h

The Mindris Gorge, starting near Filippi village and ending at the Tsoutsouras port, spans a length of 6km. It’s an open canyon with no vertical walls and a riverbed that dries up in the summer, making it easy to traverse. Along the riverside, remnants of ancient settlements from the Minoan to Roman Era have been discovered.

One can start their hiking journey from the road that links Kasteliana and Tsoutsouras. This route takes you through the riverbed of the Myndris River, where carob trees are predominant. Midway through the canyon, at Perdikoneri, you’ll find a spring with drinkable water.

In the vicinity of the canyon and near Tsoutsouras, archaeologists have unearthed signs of the ancient town of Inatos, including Roman Baths, a trail, and several other structures dating back to the Minoan era.

  • 2.3 km
  • Achendrias Gorge
  • 4 h

The Achendrias gorge, situated approximately 50km south of Heraklion, concludes at the Maridaki beach. It traverses the barren landscape of the Asterousia Range, marked by stark mountains, jagged rocks, and coarse grazing lands. The gorge is quite accessible for the most part, except for the final stretch, which can only be navigated by seasoned canyoners. This is where high waterfalls form due to the Asterousia fault line.

The journey begins gently from the plain of the Achendrias village, where the gorge collects water. It initially passes through the Farangouli location, a fairly open ravine. It then moves through the Plakoures position, a striking stony mass with layered limestone, before reaching the sea via the Lihnistis gorge. Just before it reaches the sea, it forms five waterfalls, the tallest of which is 60 meters and named Lihnistis. This part requires canyoning equipment to cross, otherwise, one must turn back and follow the trail in the Ligiofarago.

After the waterfall, the landscape transforms into a verdant river valley at the Maridaki settlement, just before the sea. This area is lush with a spring, tall plane trees, and babbling water. If you’re fortunate, you might even spot the river fairies who are said to reside here!

If you prefer not to walk along the gorge, you can still enjoy its beauty by driving the rugged 15km dirt road from Mesohorio to Maridaki, passing by the Agios Nikitas monastery and the Agios Antonios palm grove. A significant portion of this route runs alongside the gorge.

The canyon is home to a large population of raptors and vultures, making the Asterousia gorges the largest habitat for these birds in Europe.

At the gorge’s exit, you’ll find the Lichnistis waterfall, a sequence of 5 waterfalls with the tallest standing at 60 meters. These waterfalls flow after heavy rainfalls and form ponds that are ideal for a refreshing dip in the spring. The waters of Lichnistis originate from springs south of the Ahendrias village and flow into the gorge, whose exit is home to Lichnistis. It’s a mere 10-minute walk from the Maridaki settlement. Named after the way the water disperses into the air like a misty cloud, resembling the winnowing process, the Lichnistis waterfall is one of many in the Asterousia mountains.

  • 6.3 km
  • Kakoperatos Gorge
  • 1.5 h

Situated 10km south of Ahendrias village, on the eastern flank of the Asterousia Mountains, you’ll find the majestic and untamed Kakoperatos canyon. Its journey begins at the Apomoni site, along the road linking Achendrias to the Saint Nikitas monastery, and concludes at the Skiadaki beach. To access its riverbed, technical canyoning gear is a must due to the presence of towering 15m waterfalls. However, if you prefer a less challenging route, you can bypass the falls by skirting around the edges and trekking down the gorge.

  • 9.6 km
  • Portela Gorge
  • 3 km
  • 4.5 h

The Portela Gorge, positioned in the southern region of the Heraklion prefecture, serves as a drainage channel for the Ano Viannos basin, directing water towards the South Cretan Sea. The gateway to this gorge is situated at the Hondros village, and it leads out to Keratokambos. It ranks among Greece’s most perilous canyons, only to be traversed by seasoned canyoners. Particularly after heavy rainfall, the gorge can prove lethal. However, a passable trail and road run alongside the gorge, stretching from Hondros to Keratokambos, but they lack the allure of the canyon’s interior.

This gorge is a blend of beauty and wilderness, earning it legendary status in the region and ranking it among Crete’s most popular canyoning locations, alongside Ha and Arvi. It boasts the greatest water volume during winter and early spring compared to other local gorges. The canyon features 25 technical descents with the highest being 30m, and a 340m altitude difference between the entrance and exit. Owing to the area’s inaccessibility, locals are primarily familiar with the last waterfall, Richtra, at the gorge’s exit, which can be reached without any equipment.

Five faults intersect the canyon, contributing to its formation along with gully erosion. These faults divide Portela into three sections, resulting in a rich variety of plants and landscapes. A unique feature of this canyon is the abundance of mud it holds, possibly due to the “Viannos” rock formation visible before the gorge. This formation contains large amounts of clay, which is carried into the canyon by the water flow. The gorge’s signature feature is the stunning Sifoni, a large waterfall in a sinkhole, the “bottom” of which has been opened, allowing the waters to continue their journey.

  • 12.2 km
  • Mesosfini Gorge
  • 2 km
  • 4 h

Situated 55km south of the city of Heraklion, in the remote Asterousia range to the west of the coastal village of Tris Ekklissies, lies the untamed and hard-to-reach Mesosfini canyon. This technical gorge is characterized by waterfalls and necessitates specific canyoning gear and training for descent. The entrance to the canyon is found at an elevation of 450m near the village of Mournia, while the grand Voidomatis beach can be found at its exit, accessible via a dirt path from Tris Ekklisies.

At the outset, the canyon is quite narrow, but gradually widens. The vertical drops are substantial, creating waterfalls in the winter and an abundance of boulders that render it impassable. In fact, the Mesosfini Gorge is unique in Crete for having two almost 90m high descents. Therefore, Mesosfini has become a haven for seasoned climbers and canyoners who have been adventuring here for many years.

  • 14.3 km
  • Ambas Gorge
  • 4 km
  • 6 h

The Ambas gorge, positioned 53km south of Heraklion within the Asterousia Mountains, is home to the Mousoulis stream. This stream, active during winter, gathers water from the springs of Paranymfi and Amygdalos plateau (approximately 700m above sea level) and carries it to the Tris Ekklisies beach. The stream’s gentle flow on the fertile plateau is abruptly interrupted when it meets the rocky Asterousia fault, forming the spectacular Ambas waterfall. This waterfall, with a total height of 145m, is one of Greece’s highest free-falling waterfalls, following the Mastoras waterfall in the Ha gorge (215m) and the Perdika waterfall in Samaria Gorge (240m).

A road located just above the waterfall directs us past the village Paranymfi, towards Tris Ekklisies. A parking lot near a dilapidated watermill serves as a starting point for a short path along the cliff that leads to an incredible viewpoint of both the waterfall and the sea. According to local accounts, there was an old trail that reached the base of the waterfall, although it seems impossible to descend without technical equipment. The name Ambas is believed to originate from “abbas” (priest), as a monk once found refuge at the base of the grand waterfall.

The gorge, formed after the large waterfall and leading to the beach, houses several smaller waterfalls. The gorge has been secured by Crete’s speleological associations and can be descended by a small group of highly skilled canyoners in about seven hours. There are 21 rappels in total, with the highest being 45m (the large waterfall has four air changes). The cliffs in the surrounding area are home to the largest population of birds of prey on any European island, and therefore, the descent should be avoided during their breeding season, which is in the winter months.

On September 2, 2018, the accomplished canyoner Kallia Miliara tragically lost her life at the Ambas waterfall due to an accidental fall. In honour of the Cretan athlete, a small shrine has been erected next to the watermill, close to the gorge’s entrance.

  • 14.5 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.

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