The canyon is the biggest in Europe with 18 km length and the road that we walk in it is 14 km. His width ranges from 150 to 3 meters, at its narrowest point, the Doors. It was proclaimed a national park, in 1962 to protect rare flora and fauna. In 1980 it was awarded by the Council of Europe as one of the most beautiful areas. Due to its wild form, is the only place that the “beast” still lives as the locals call the cretan wild goat. A lot of rare species of birds also live and along the gorge many and rare herbs such as burning bush and wild flowers grow.
In the gorge is forbidden: hunting, setting fires, collecting flowers and herbs, and also spending the night.Throughout the length of the route there are guards but also guides with mules that carry with a fare, whoever has a problem.
Even in the entrance a symbolic ticket is given, that is refundable, to verify that all the visitors got out of the gorge. In the winter the canyon is impassable and the passage is allowed from early May until October. The course takes 6-8 hours depending on the abilities of the hiker. For the path we must be supplied with suitable hard shoes, (boots), and light food. It is not necessary to carry water with us, because along the gorge, there are streams with crystal, clear waters. But we must have been informed for the last’s boat departure from Agia Roumeli so that we leave for Sfakia.
Xiloskalos, at the entrance of the gorge and at an altitude of 1200m , is a narrow path with a wooden handrail for convenience and protection of those who descend to Faraga, as the locals call it. Descending the path, you are slowly dominated by an awe. High mountains on the right and on the left a ravin without end in front of you. Countless shades of green and deep far another tall mountain. Four kilometers you descend and either chaos in front of you or towering trees, springs and sometimes huge rocks that you think that they will block your way.
After 30 minutes of walking a little change of our scenery. In front of us and on the right the little church of St. Nicholas surrounded by two huge gates in the lobby. We have already reached the bottom of the gorge and huge mountains 2000 meters are all around us. Here the path changes, it becomes smoother. Every now and then other small canyons are united with Faraga. The valey starts to widen and the water suddenly disappears into the earth.
Down here, in the middle of Faraga there is a village named Samaria, now uninhabited, as the woodcutters and the shepherds who lived there, they were transferred elsewhere when it became a National Park in 1962. In the Byzantine church of 14th century which is located here, a lot of icons and frescos have been saved. It is honored in Osia Maria the Egyptian whose name became Sia Maria and in the end Samaria, and the whole region was named after this.
With its spring, the little village is offered as an ideal place for a rest and a snack. Besides we are halfway. The landscape now changes viewok. The canyon narrows and towering walls of rocks come closer. Just before you reach Portes, on your right a plateau and a running stream, challenges you to stop and quench your thirst.
Reaching Portes the show is amazing! The two sides of the gorge close to one another so, that you think that they will be united and create a narrow door with width 3 meters and height 600 meters. Passing through the narrow passage you can see at the distance the blue sea. The trail leads now to a dry waterfall, on round rocks. The canyon widens and reaches another uninhabited village, Agia Roumeli.
One kilometer more on the same rocks and we reach the new village Agia Roumeli. A beautiful end to our way is the exit from the Gorge to the Libyan Sea. A swim after this long walk is the best thing in a wonderful beach with thick sand, black pebbles and crystal clear sea.