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Gorges to hike and walk near Zonianá, in Rethymno region

List of Gorges near Zonianá

  • 720 m
  • Zoniana Gorge
  • 6 km
  • 4 h

The Zoniana canyon is situated to the south of Zoniana village within the Psiloritis Range. It begins at a height of 950m, gathering water from several streams that flow from the Zoniana mountains, and concludes at the village at a height of 650m. The “serpentine” river Oaxis, which carries water until spring and ultimately drains into the Geropotamos river, flows through this gorge.

This gorge is not only easily accessible but also safe for hiking due to its gentle slope. The rock formations in many areas are truly remarkable, made up of numerous layers, and there are stunning geological structures and trees clinging to the steep slopes and narrow points. As it nears the village, the canyon broadens and morphs into a slender valley.

  • 12.0 km
  • Platania Gorge
  • 2.5 km
  • 3 h

The Platania Gorge, positioned above the Platania village, links the southeast slopes of the Psiloritis range to the Amari valley, approximately 38km southeast of Rethymno. The river flowing through it collects water from the west of the Migia (1584m) and Spathi (1779m) peaks and channels it to the River Platys, which terminates in Agia Galini. A challenging yet secure trail winds its way up to the starting point at Kokkinoharako, skirting its steep slopes. The trail provides hikers with breathtaking views of the towering cliffs, vertical limestone rocks displaying yellow-red hues of erosion, rock shelters, and numerous caves.

At roughly 800m altitude, a small plateau hosts the cave-like church of Saint Anthony (Agios Antonios), constructed near a spring. The trail from Agios Antonios continues its ascent northwest, meeting a dirt road originating from the Vistagi village. On the opposite side of the gorge, in the east, lies the Panas cave, named after the ancient god Pan, god of the wild, shepherds, and flocks, who, as per local folklore, was born here. The cave houses petroglyphs from the Minoan era, indicating continuous worship at the site. The same dirt road from Vistagi provides access to the nearby church of Saint Mammes (Agios Mamas), the patron saint of shepherds in Christianity.

The Platania Gorge’s interior is stunning, though few get to witness it due to its steep waterfalls, which require technical canyoning equipment to navigate. The tallest waterfall stands at approximately 40m. The first known crossing of the gorge was in 2008 by the canyoning group of Giannis Bromirakis and Christoforos Cheiladakis. The cliffs provide a nesting habitat for various bird species, including vultures, hawks, wild pigeons, and crows.

  • 13.9 km
  • Margarites Gorge
  • 2 h

Margarites is a renowned village in the Milopotamos province, celebrated for its stunning architecture and traditional pottery. The broader region, encompassing the villages of Margarites, Orthe and Eleftherna, is characterized by a sequence of small, parallel gorges. Tiny watercourses like Margaritianos meander northwards, contributing to the Geropotamos River. These gorges are carved into the white-yellow marly limestone from the Upper Miocene era (8-10 million years ago), a result of the area’s uplift and water erosion.

The gorges’ most striking features are their abundant flora and extraordinary environment. Small groups of horizontally branched cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens var horizontal) blend with low shrubs, wildflowers, and aromatic plants. The local authorities have fashioned small trails that reveal the area’s beauty to visitors.

  • 14.7 km
  • Santorinios Gorge
  • 3 km
  • 1 h

Just a stone’s throw away from Heraklion city, near the Agios Panteleimonas Monastery in Fodele, you’ll find the Santorinios canyon. This canyon carries water from the Marathos village and the western slopes of Platani to the Fodelianos river. Although the canyon is relatively short, it remains unexplored due to the challenging access caused by thick vegetation and numerous ponds. Trekking through the riverbed, despite getting wet, simplifies the journey but calls for a change of footwear. The canyon’s name originates from the soil’s resemblance to that of Santorini Island, which was previously used in Crete’s construction.

Upon entering the gorge, you’ll encounter the ruins of a two-room watermill, its walls still standing tall, supported by an ivy branch woven into them. After some time, you’ll reach the first pond, Azilakokolymbos, which appears to be the path’s endpoint. However, if you manage to bypass the lake by either swimming or rock climbing, there’s more to discover. After overcoming this hurdle, the journey continues smoothly until you reach a majestic waterfall that forms a stunning pond at its base.

The adventure intensifies from this point. To proceed, you’ll need to scale the right side of the waterfall, approximately 15 meters, to reach the hilltop. To access the waterfall’s edge from here, a rope is necessary due to the steep and slippery terrain. As you continue up the canyon, you’ll be greeted by two awe-inspiring twin waterfalls.

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