The world-famous Samaria Gorge on the southern Aegean island of Crete is one of the longest gorges in Europe.
The gorge has opened for the public, with entry permitted throughout the entire length of the main footpath, from Xyloskalo to Aghia Roumeli.
The Samaria Gorge, a national park in Chania prefecture in southwest Crete and a major tourist attraction of the island, was created by a small river running between the Lefka Ori (White Mountains) and Mt. Volakias.
The 16 kilometer-long gorge starts at an altitude of 1,250 meters at the northern entrance in the settlement of Omalos (Xyloskalo) and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Aghia Roumeli.
The actual walk through the Samaria National Park is 13 kilometers long, but the trekker has to walk another three kilometers to Aghia Roumeli from the park exit, making the hike 16 kilometers.
The most famous part of the gorge is the “Iron Gates” stretch, where the sides of the gorge close in to a width of only four meters and soar to a height of 500 meters.
The gorge became a national park in 1962, chiefly as a refuge for the rare “kri-kri” Cretan goat, which is largely restricted to the park and an islet just off the shore of Aghia Marina.
There are several other endemic species in the gorge and surrounding area, as well as many other species of flowers and birds.