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Ambas Gorge

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Gorge description

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.

Location

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Most frequent asked questions

What type of gorge is Ambas Gorge?

Ambas Gorge is a narrow and steep gorge, with rocky terrain and several challenging sections.

Is there water in Ambas Gorge?

The Ambas Gorge has water flowing through it until the spring, providing a refreshing and scenic experience for hikers.

What are the ways to access Ambas Gorge?

Ambas Gorge is accessible by walking, and it is recommended to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks.

How long is Ambas Gorge?

The Ambas Gorge is approximately 4 kilometers long, offering a moderate to challenging hiking experience.

What is the difficulty level of Ambas Gorge from a total of 10?

Ambas Gorge is rated as a 9 out of 10 in terms of difficulty, due to its steep and rocky terrain, narrow passages, and challenging sections.

How many hours does it take to hike Ambas Gorge?

It takes approximately 6 hours to hike through Ambas Gorge, depending on the pace and level of experience of the hiker.

What is the altitude difference in Ambas Gorge?

The altitude difference in Ambas Gorge is approximately 280 meters, adding to the challenge and scenic beauty of the hike.

Where is Ambas Gorge located?

Ambas Gorge is located 53km south of Heraklion.

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