If you missed my last post about our time in Crete, you can read it here. Basing ourselves in Hora Sfakion, we’d wanted to walk Samaria Gorge because of it’s rave reviews of being THE BEST and THE BIGGEST gorge in Europe, but when I’d seen hundreds of people disembark from the ferry wharf and load into coaches, I’d had a change of heart. Quick to avoid a mass tourism situation, (that AND, getting public transport to the starting place, was going to be fairly impossible) Moo found an alternative and we ended up settling on Aradena Gorge, Crete and BOY OH BOY it was great!
The length of the gorge walk is 7.5km each way with 600m inclination. You can start in the small town of Aradena and walk through to Marmara bay (west of Loutro) or vise versa. We drove to Aradena, planning on walking there and back. There are some facilities at the beach and at the town.
Moo had been doing some research about Aradena Gorge, Crete and explained to me that the town had been deserted back in the 50’s due to a blood feud – which is really not what you want to hear before heading into a gorge on your own. Plus I scare easy, so needless to say I was a little on edge.
To get to the start of the gorge:
Depending on which direction you come from, you need to cross the rickety Bailey bridge. Also used for bungee jumping in summer – only for the fearless.
My mind flickers to the bullet holes in the road signs along the way and the crumbled buildings of the deserted town and opt to stay close to Moo. One word about the start: creepy. Don’t let that deter you, it got good.
What I remember most about the walk were all the mountain goats, precariously feasting along cliff faces or lounging about barely noticing us in their state of bliss. We followed the route along wild sage and dead goat carcass. I have to admit, the start of the walk had a certain eeriness about it.
We begin the walk with a few switchbacks to get to the bottom of the gorge and off we went. I’d say the Aradena Gorge, Crete is less of a walk, more of a scramble.
It’s basically the perfect hike for the distracted/wandering/attention deficit mind. You’re constantly seeking a sure-footedness. Using your hands and bum to slide down rocky areas is more of a necessity than for frivolity.
In terms of difficulty:
I guess that all depends on your willingness to negotiate a ten meter steel ladder and rope (necessary to get through a particularly challenging section.)
There is a path that avoids the ladder, but truly, it’s still a very exposed path and hasn’t been maintained in a long time. Some sections have become badly eroded and extremely slippery – the handrail is loose or missing in parts (images above). We preferred the ladder option.
From there, you can follow signs to the small town of Livaniana if you want to make the walk a little shorter, otherwise, stay on the path and keep walking!
The path is marked with arrows along the way, while attention is required, you wouldn’t necessarily ever get lost, it would probably just add a little more challenge to the route.
Once we arrived in Marmara, I didn’t want to leave. If it wasn’t so hard to get to by car I would have definitely returned here, it was probably my favourite bay of all the one’s we’d visited.
The crow of the rooster, the calmness of the sea and hush of quiet bathers.
Then, into the water, I swim towards the caves (to the left of the beach), about two or three caves along, you’ll find some marble rock to climb up using a rope. Afterall Marmara in Greek, means Marbles, it all makes sense. The blue azzure of the caves has etched into my mind. The marble reflects off the water to reveal an almost light blue diamond colour.
It was unreal!!!
We make the most of it all before heading back into the gorge, back to Aradena. Doing any hike in reverse isn’t something I usually recommend, particularly when you’re backtracking, but this one actually wasn’t bad, and didn’t take half as long as I slowly recognised a few of the hairy (but groovy looking) locals.
All in all, it’s definitely worth the walk, especially for the adventurous!
Have you hiked Aradena Gorge, Crete?
Keep an eye out for notes on my next hike, the EPW! Coming soon!