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Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)

Gorge description

The Agios Nikolaos, Gafaris or Rouvas gorge is nestled between the Ambelakia and Samari peaks. This gorge, the most significant in Psiloritis and central Crete, is named after the St Nicholas monastery located near its exit at Zaros. This area is an ecosystem teeming with diverse flora and fauna, smaller canyons, and striking geological formations and cliffs. It spans 4 km, with 2.7 km developed by the Forest Service for activities like hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, and wildlife observation. However, a fire in 1994 significantly damaged the beautiful Rouvas forest near the gorge’s south entrance.

The Rouvas forest, located in the Saint Nicholas gorge, is a nationally significant ecosystem of holly trees. It covers the inner valley of Psiloritis, surrounded by the peaks of Ambelakia, Samari, Chalazokefala, Skinakas, Koudouni, and Giristi. The area’s trees are ancient, with some trunks exceeding 1 meter in diameter and reaching heights of 15 meters. They grow densely, forming a unique forest society, supplemented by various shrub species.

The forest houses other typical Cretan flora, such as aria, zelkova, cypress, pine, plane, and pear trees, covering approximately 30,000 acres. The uniqueness of the Rouvas forest lies in the holly trees’ unusual size and characteristics compared to their typical Greek counterparts. This is likely due to the absence of external factors that allowed these shrubby oaks to evolve into their current form. Around the forest, one can spot scattered “mitata” (shepherd houses), most of which are now abandoned.

Recommended hiking routes include Zaros Lake to Saint John (a 2.5-hour return trip) and Psakofarago to Agios Ioannis to Lake Zaros (a 5-hour trip). The first route starts from Zaros Lake, leading to the St Nicholas monastery before entering the Rouvas gorge. The trail then ascends through the old burned forest, offering stunning views of the Zaros and Messara planes, before entering a narrow gorge filled with dense vegetation. The path follows the river bed, abundant with water in spring, leading to the heart of the forest, the Agios Ioannis area.

The second route begins north of Agios Ioannis at the Psakofarago gorge, the upper extension of the Rouvas gorge. The trail starts from the Holy Cross church and ends at Lake Zaros, passing through Agios Ioannis and the Rouvas gorge. This route requires a transfer to the Holy Cross church and a pick-up from Lake Zaros. Both routes offer the chance to experience the unique beauty of the Rouvas forest and its surroundings.

Location

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Most frequent asked questions

What is Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)?

Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris) is a hiking gorge located in the region of Heraklion.

What type of gorge is Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)?

Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris) is a hiking gorge with a signed trail that is part of the E4 trail.

What is the water situation in Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)?

There is water available until the spring and several springs throughout Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris).

How accessible is Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)?

Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris) is accessible via a dirt track.

What is the length of Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)?

Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris) is 6 km long.

What is the difficulty level of Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris) on a scale of 1-10?

Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris) has a difficulty level of 2 out of 10.

How long does it take to hike Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)?

It takes approximately 2.5 hours to hike Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris).

What is the altitude difference in Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)?

The altitude difference in Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris) is 1000 meters.

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Other gorges in the area

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  • 9.1 km
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Stays near Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)

  • 9 / 10
  • Zaros

Situated at the foothills of Mount Psiloritis, just a few metres from Zaros village, Idi Hotel is a family-run hotel offering comfortable accommodation. Surrounded by a garden, it includes a pool, a restaurant and a cocktail bar. Free WiFi is provided throughout.

Opening to a balcony, all air-conditioned rooms of Idi are spacious. Free toiletries are included.

The swimming pool features a sun terrace with grassed and paved areas. Idi also offers tennis court facilities.

A buffet-style breakfast is included in the room rate, while refreshing drinks and beverages are served at the tree-lined courtyard café. At Idi Restaurant, guests can taste traditional local dishes and fresh fish from the family’s own fish-farm.

Hotel Idi offers free private, on-site parking.

from

€69

/night

  • 2.9 km
  • 9.8 / 10
  • Οδός Αγίου Γεωργίου

Situated in Zarós, 42 km from Venetian Walls and 43 km from Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Froso’s Home features air-conditioned accommodation with a balcony and free WiFi. With garden views, this accommodation offers a patio.

The apartment has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a flat-screen TV, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a terrace with mountain views.

The apartment can conveniently provide information at the reception to help guests to get around the area.

Guests can relax in the garden at the property.

The Palace of Knossos is 45 km from Froso’s Home, while Phaistos is 21 km from the property. The nearest airport is Heraklion International Airport, 45 km from the accommodation.

from

€65

/night

  • 3.3 km
  • 7.7 / 10
  • Ζαρός

Boasting garden views, House Rachati offers accommodation with a balcony and a kettle, around 41 km from Venetian Walls. It features a garden, barbecue facilities, lake views and free WiFithroughout the property.

The apartment with a terrace and mountain views has 3 bedrooms, a living room, a flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchen with an oven and a fridge, and 2 bathrooms with an a bath or shower. The air-conditioned apartment also features a seating area, washing machine and 2 bathrooms with a hair dryer.

The apartment offers a picnic area.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum is 42 km from House Rachati, while The Palace of Knossos is 45 km from the property. The nearest airport is Heraklion International Airport, 45 km from the accommodation.

from

€64

/night

  • 3.3 km
  • 9 / 10
  • Τσικριτσή

Featuring garden views, Papa-Antonis Stone House offers accommodation with a garden and a patio, around 42 km from Venetian Walls. This property offers access to a balcony, free private parking and free WiFi.

The holiday home with a terrace and mountain views features 2 bedrooms, a living room, a flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchen with an oven and a fridge, and 1 bathroom with a walk-in shower. Towels and bed linen are featured in the holiday home.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum is 43 km from the holiday home, while The Palace of Knossos is 46 km away. The nearest airport is Heraklion International Airport, 45 km from Papa-Antonis Stone House.

from

€54

/night

  • 3.4 km
  • 10 / 10
  • ΖΑΡΟΣ

Offering garden views, Zaros Cottage is an accommodation located in Zarós, 43 km from Heraklion Archaeological Museum and 45 km from The Palace of Knossos. The air-conditioned accommodation is 42 km from Venetian Walls, and guests benefit from private parking available on site and free WiFi.

The holiday home is equipped with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV with streaming services, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio with mountain views.

The holiday home features a barbecue, garden and sun terrace, which can be enjoyed by guests if the weather permits.

Phaistos is 20 km from Zaros Cottage, while Museum of Cretan Ethnology is 21 km away. The nearest airport is Heraklion International Airport, 45 km from the accommodation.

from

€83

/night

  • 3.7 km
  • 8.6 / 10
  • Τσικριτσή , 1ος όροφος

Situated in Zarós, 42 km from Venetian Walls and 43 km from Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Orange apartment offers a garden and air conditioning. This property offers access to a balcony, free private parking and free WiFi.

The apartment features 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen, and a terrace with garden views.

A car rental service is available at the apartment, while hiking can be enjoyed nearby.

The Palace of Knossos is 46 km from Orange apartment, while Phaistos is 20 km from the property. The nearest airport is Heraklion International Airport, 45 km from the accommodation.

  • 3.7 km

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