The Cretan Mountains and Gorges, from west to east:
The Cretan mountains stay in our hearts, with their unpredictable beauty and sudden changes of mood. Kriti's character is created by her mountains and gorges with fertile plateaux.
In the west are the Lefka Ori or White Mountains, Omalos Plateau and a range full of high peaks including Pachnes at 2453m above sea level. In these inaccessible areas are many rare species and a unique mountain ecology protected by conservation.
This range is named for its white snow-topped peaks in winter and its white limestone which shines in summer.
Bearded Vultures, Griffon Vultures and Peregrine Falcons (see below) are amongst the birds found here. The summits of the Lefka Ori peaks are very bare and known as a high desert.
In the west is Agia Irini Gorge a 7 km gorge starting at the village of Agia Irini and ending close to the seaside town of Sougia, on the south coast of Crete. This rocky terrain of the Cretan mountains makes for wonderful hiking and walking.
Also in Chania is Samaria Gorge. The Samaria National Park boasts stunning mountain country, unique flora and fauna and one of the longest gorges in Europe. This is one of the most visited attractions on the island and can be very busy in summer. It is a striking deep gorge with cyprus pines, sage, marjoram, thyme, wild orchids and lillies, and rocks, rocks and more rocks.
In the centre proud Mount Ida or Psiloritis sits looking down over all of Crete. The highest mountain on the island at 2456m, this mountain is the great overseer of Kriti, abode to heroic adartes, and inspiration to many mantinades and songs.
The mountain villages such as Zaros retain the traditional Cretan way of life. It is here that you may discover peace and the real essence of Kriti.
In the east are the Dikti Mountains. The highest peak, Mt Spathi is 2148 metres above sea level. Located in the Lasithi prefecture, these mountains abound with history, agriculture in lush plateaus, striking scenery in the gorges, and beautiful churches. Hiking, rockclimbing and caving are popular here.
The E4 European Walking Path
passes through the Cretan mountains, taking in some of the most
beautiful scenery in Kriti. A total of 320 kms, it runs from
Kastelli-Kissamos in the west to Kato Zakros in the east.
Lasithi Plateau in the east is a fertile agricultural centre dotted with striking white-sailed windmills.
These wild areas abound with nature because of the unique ecology of the island of Crete. Click on the falcon or the warbler to visit our nature pages.
Gorge walks, hiking, caving and natural history tours are all popular in Kriti. One of the most unusual gorges in eastern Crete, known as the Valley of the Dead, is Zakros Gorge.