Knossos to Aradena Overland

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Period of operation :From May to October
Price :
  • 2280€/person for 4-5 participants
  • 2890€/person for 2-3 participants - for more participants please contact us !
Duration :9 days / 8 nights
Minimum attendance :2 participants
Level requirements :This trip level is moderate

Mountains rearing straight up from the sea, gorges, and valleys and yet more glorious mountains. There are few places in the world where high mountains so close to the sea combine with an often perfect climate. Crete’s rugged terrain is an adventurer’s paradise and in many respects the culmination of the Greek experience. Its natural beauty is equaled only by the richness of its history. The island after all is the birthplace of the first advanced society in European soil.
Out trip starts in the bustling city of Heraklion and after visiting one of the most important archaeological sites of the Mediterranean, Knossos, we’ll drive towards the enchanting city of Rethymnon, which will be our base for the next few days. Then we will head towards a mountainous resort for two more days of hiking and our trip will end in the picturesque city of Chania.
This trip combines the sensual pleasures of Crete’s sublime cuisine, delicious wine, and Mediterranean sunshine with the physical pleasure of an active holiday walking through some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.

Trip Highlights

  • Immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of Crete and learn to cook authentic Cretan dishes - Discover rural Crete on a horseback
  • Explore Aradena  one of the most fascinating gorges in the island
  • Visit Knossos Palace, Crete's most important archeological site
  • Discover rural Crete on a horseback

Day 1 - Arrival in Heraklion and welcome dinner
Heraklion is the fifth largest city of Greece. In order to experience it you have to penetrate the modern façade of the city and you will discover its attractive features. After all, it is the birthplace of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis and Heraklion province hosts some of the most fascinating Minoan sites in all of Crete.
Today we will meet at our hotel for an introductory talk and afterwards we will wander the streets and have our first dinner together in a traditional restaurant. Of course Cretan cuisine plays a starring role and we have spent many selfless hours researching this aspect of the tour.
Overnight in Heraklion, Lato Hotel  (B,L,D)

Day 2 - Archeological museum, the palace of Knossos and a winery tour
Crete’s natural beauty is equaled only by the richness of its history. Once here, grab the opportunity to start your day visiting the Archeological museum of Heraklion. The museum houses the most important collection of Minoan art in the world.  It’s a great introduction to our visit in Knossos, Crete’s must-see historical attraction, which will follow. The Minoans were ruling big parts of the Aegean from their palace in Knossos some 4000 years ago, giving the area a great strategic and cultural importance.
From culture to cultivation we will head towards the wine country of Heraklion. More than twenty wineries are embedded in a harmonious landscape of shapely hills and lush valleys. Wine has been produced here since Minoan time. The owners of the vineyard will share with us their secrets of successful wine making and present us with some local varieties. After enjoying local wine we will drive towards the Mediterranean pearl, city of Rethymnon, to settle in our hotel.
Overnight in Rethymnon, Pepi Studios (B,L,D)
Driving distance: Heraklion to Knossos 5km / 15min - Knossos to Winery 15km / 25min - Winery to Rethymnon 100km / 2hours

Day 3 - Ancient Eleftherna hike and pottery visit
Ancient Eleftherna, a Dorian built settlement, lies in the foothills of Psiloritis, the highest mountain of Crete  and the Archeological Institute of America included it, in its top discoveries of 2009. We start our hike from the ancient Acropolis of the town, and on our way we will pass the remarkable Roman cisterns, which are carved into the hill’s west side, the Necropolis and a 3rd century BC ancient bridge.
Our tour finishes in the tiny village of Margarites, known for its pottery. Learn about the traditional techniques from a local potter who derives inspiration for his ceramics from Minoan and Byzantine originals.
In the afternoon we will have time to explore the labyrinthine lanes of the historic quarter of Rethymnon which still preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish appearance
Overnight in Rethymnon, Pepi Studios (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 8km / Hiking Duration: 3 hours
Driving distance: Rethymnon to Ancient Eleftherna 30km / 45min - Margarites to Rethymnon 30km / 40min

Day 4 - Horse trek and cooking class
After a hearty breakfast we will set out for our 1,5-hour trek on horseback. We will have an introductory lesson and then ride gently up and downhill, crossing a shallow river, through the bamboo jungle, along gardens and olive groves, towards the picturesque harbor and the famous eucalyptus alley of the village of Georgioupolis while we immerse ourselves in rural Crete.
Later on we will drive toward the quaint village of Vamos for a cooking class which takes place in an old olive press dating from 1846 with Venetian arches and large millstones in the centre. This unique setting will enliven your "journey" into the aromas and tastes of traditional Cretan Cuisine.  Of course we will eat what we have cooked!
Overnight in Rethymnon, Pepi Studios (B,L,D)
Driving distance: Rethymnon to Georgioupolis  25km / 30min - Georgioupolis to Vamos  7km / 15min - Vamos to Rethymnon  33km / 40min

Day 5 - Hike Imbros Gorge
Today we will head towards Imbros gorge at the south side of the island, driving by the rugged interior, which is largely untouched by mass tourism. A dreamy mosaic of sleepy villages and fertile valleys, dotted with Byzantine churches.
The pine tree-lined Imbros gorge was part of the route that linked the city of Chania with the Chora Sfakion village. Here, you’ll set off on your three-hour hike, following footpaths through wildflower meadows. Keep watch for Crete’s ‘kri-kri’ wild goats as you go. And reach for your camera at the most spectacular section, where everything narrows into a 2-meter passageway twisting steep, 300-foot walls.
Overnight in Agios Ioannis, Hotel Alonia (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 8km / Hiking Duration: 3 hours
Driving distance: Rethymno to Entrance of the gorge 50km, 1h 30min - Exit of the gorge to Agios Ioannis 25km, 40min

Day 6 - Papakefala summit hike
Today wake up to the quietness our mountain hideaway offers, blocking out the rest of the world affording a feeling of tremendous peace and tranquility, and savor a few moments over a steaming cup of coffee as the dew dries and the mist evaporates in the morning sun.
After breakfast we will follow a path delightfully free of crowds, lined with holm oaks and pine trees. As we head towards the Papakefala summit, it opens out onto a long ridge that traverses the mountainside, offering breathtaking views of the bright blue sea below.
Overnight in Agios Ioannis, Hotel Alonia (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 5.5km / Hiking Duration: 3 hours
Driving distance: Rethymno to Agios Ioannis 85km / 2hours

Day 7 - Aradena gorge hike
In the southern slopes of White Mountains there is one of the most fascinating gorges in Crete. Aradena gorge is not as famous as Samaria gorge but in physical terms as impressive and much less crowded. Moreover, the hike itself is challenging and the sense of achievement is immense. Start from the abandoned -due to a vendetta in 1950’s- village of Aradena and descend all the way down to the Libyan sea with the beach of Marmara at the end as reward.
An opportunity for a quick swim and lunch, and later leaving Marmara we’ll follow the coastal path towards the peaceful harbor of Loutro. After a short ferry ride to Chora Sfakion, tired but fulfilled, say farewell to the mountains and head back to the civilization, this time the lively Chania town.
Overnight in Chania, Kydon Hotel (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 12km / Hiking Duration: 5 hours
Driving distance: Agios Ioannis to the start of Aradena gorge 5km / 10min - Sfakia to Chania 70km / 2 hours

Day 8 - Chania Visit
Chania is Crete’s most beautiful town. Its perfect setting with the White Mountains as background, lively harbor, historical remains, busy market, and nearby beaches make it the ideal spot.The winding old streets conceal charming boutique hotels and some of the island’s best dining options.
There will be time for some independent sightseeing before tonight’s farewell dinner.
Overnight in Chania, Kydon Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Departure Day
After breakfast and a final coffee transfer to the airport and connect to your return flight home.(B)

Price includes: All accommodations as listed (or similar) based on double occupancy, all transportation during the trip, admissions fees to itinerary sites and museums, services of leader/guide throughout the tour, tourist guide for the archeological museum of Heraklion and Knossos archeological site, winery tasting at day 2, organic farm visit on day 4, horse trek on day 5, cooking class on day 5, a bottle of water per day, ferry ticket Loutro-Sfakia, hotel taxes and service charges, transport and handling of one reasonably sized suitcase and one carry-on per person, all activities mentioned in the program.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunches and dinners as indicated in the itinerary, snacks during activities.

Not Included: Domestic and/or international air fare, medical expenses, travel or emergency evacuation insurance, gratuities for leader/guide or driver, alcoholic beverages and meals other than outlined in itinerary, visas, transfer to and from the airport/port, other items of a personal nature.
 

This trip Level is Moderate and is suitable for most people that are in fairly good physical condition. Although the daily distances are not that far, it has been rated moderate as there are quite significant elevation gains and losses. The itinerary includes walking tours in cities and villages, and four days with moderate hikes of 3-5 hours, including one summit hike with elevation gains and losses of up to 350m. Although the paths are quite well-kept the terrain often tends to be very stony and rocky, during the gorge-walking. You will mostly be walking on footpaths, mountain trails and on some tarmac roads and be prepared for few steeper passages.

Please consider taking along the following items on your trip. This is not a fixed list, but more of a guideline, so feel free to add and remove items as you see fit.
Greece has a temperate climate. Base your clothing on the “layering system”, if it is hot you can “peel off” layers quickly, if it is cooler and windy you can quickly “dress up”.

Luggage

  • Duffel bag or rolling luggage
  • Day pack to carry camera, water bottle and snacks etc.
  • Luggage locks and tags

Outerwear

  • Mid-weight polar fleece sweater
  • Rain jacket and rain pants, or poncho

Clothing

  • Hiking shorts
  • Casual clothing made of light-weight fabrics
  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Hiking pants, loose and easy to move in
  • Underwear
  • Swimsuit

Clothing Accessories

  • Sun hat or baseball cap

Footwear

  • Lightweight and supportive hiking boots, broken-in with good ankle support
  • Beach sandals
  • Casual, comfortable shoes for evening

Accessories

  • Sunscreen and lip protection
  • Sunglasses and retainer strap
  • Beach towel

Optional Accessories

  • Security pouch or money belt
  • Trekking poles or walking staff
  • Camera, memory and batteries
  • Reading and writing materials
  • Watch with alarm or travel alarm
  • Travel pillow
  • Motion sickness remedies
  • Personal first-aid kit
  • Insect repellent (lowrisk)
  • Electrical adapter plug/converter

The lighter you travel, the easier you travel. Use your best judgment and pack as lightly as possible. You will appreciate light luggage towards the end of your trip.