White Mountains

You are here

Period of operation :From May to October with the exception of August
Price :

980€ for a minimum of 4 participants (excluding July - August)

Duration :8 days/ 7 nights
Minimum attendance : 2 participants
Level requirements :This trip level is moderate to strenuous

Birthplace of Zeus and the cradle of Europe's earliest civilization, Crete is justifiably known as the “Great Island”. Fabulous beaches and crystalline seas are just the beginning of the story. The mountains, which dominate the view as you approach, consist of dozens of peaks over 2000m of altitude and present a stunning scenic backdrop to life on the western side of Crete. There are few places in the world where high mountains so close to the sea are combined with an often perfect climate.
Our trip starts in Chania, probably the most charming city of Crete, and from there we will head towards White Mountains (Lefka Ori). They borrow their name from the shining bleached limestone in summer and the rich snow cover in winter. For the next week we will hike a network of ancient paths and shepherd trails. We will follow the southern coastline, climb to summits, and submerge to the depths of some of the prettiest gorges of the island, including the most famous one, Samaria. On a hot summer day, heading down to the mouth of a gorge is the ideal hike. We will walk shaded from the sun's ferocity, looking forward to a welcome swim at the end as a reward.

Trip Highlights

  • Wander around the historical city of Chania, one of the longest continuously inhabited city sites in the world
  • Walk through Samaria, Europe's longest gorge and Crete's 'must-do' experience
  • Climb Mt. Gigilos the legendary peak overlooking Samaria with its 2080m high summit
  • Enjoy awe-inspiring views of the dramatic, rocky seascape while breathing in the fresh, salty air of remote and unspoiled beaches

Day 1 - Arrival in Chania
We love Chania and we believe you will too. Its perfect setting with the White Mountains as a background, lively harbor, historical remains, busy market, and nearby beaches make it the ideal spot. We will meet in the afternoon at our hotel for an introductory talk and have our first dinner together in a traditional restaurant. Of course Cretan cuisine plays a starring role and we have spent many hours digesting countless delicacies during the research of this important aspect.
Overnight in Chania, Kriti Hotel (D)

Day 2 - From Chania to Agia Irini Gorge and Omalos plateau
Wake up and get ready to enter the White Mountains through the narrow gorge of Agia Irini. Areas of humidity and shade sustain a variety of plants, and gigantic ancient plane trees grace a large clearing halfway up. Our hike ends at Agia Irini village and from there we will be transferred to Omalos plateau. In the heart of Omalos, at an  altitude of more than 1000m, enjoy the evening breeze listening to the jingling of the occasional goat’s bell.
Overnight in Omalos, Hotel Neos Omalos (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 7km / Hiking Duration: 3h 30min
Driving from: Chania to Entrance of the gorge 70km, 1h 30min

Day 3 - Climb to the summit of Mt. Gigilos
Take a deep breath of the mountain fresh air and gear up for today’s high ascent. We will climb Mt. Gingilos the legendary peak overlooking Samaria with its 2080m high summit. Its north face, a near vertical slope of solid rock will try to scare us, but we will trick it by following the path round the back in order to reach the summit with only a little scrambling. Lammergeiers, the biggest birds in Europe, from Samaria gorge, glide past this cliff top so often at midday on their foraging trips it is well worth keeping an eye out for them.
Overnight in Omalos, Hotel Neos Omalos  (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 9km / Hiking Duration: 6 Hours

Day 4   - Samaria Gorge Crossing
“Kalimera!” How about a dip  in the clear turquoise waters of the South coast?
Yes! But first we have to trek through Samaria, Europe's longest gorge which lead us to our goal over trickling streams, through forests of scented pines and the "Iron Gates", the narrowest point where the rocks on either side are 600m high. After a 16km descent we’ll reach the welcoming resort of Agia Roumeli, with its much appreciated fine pebble beach and sparkling sea, in which we will stay for the next two days.
Overnight in Agia Roumeli, Hotel Pachnes (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 16km / Hiking Duration: 6h 30min

Day 5 - Free day and optional hike
At the location of Agia Roumeli once stood the religious center of Tarra. A church was built many centuries later named Agia Roumeli and that was the name given the village as well. In our days the village with its much appreciated fine pebble beach and sparkling sea, is the perfect hideaway and the best spot to rest before continuing our trip.During the Ottoman times a castle was built in a hill overlooking the village and if someone wants a bit of exercise he can do the short walk till there.
Overnight in Agia Roumeli, Hotel Pachnes (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 4km / Hiking Duration: 2hours

Day 6 - Agia Roumeli to Agios Ioannis
If you’ve fallen already in love with the blue waters you may start your day with a morning dip or swim. Then put on your hiking shoes again to head towards the mountains, with awe-inspiring views on our way, at one of the best preserved coastlines in all Europe. A cozy hostel in Agios Ioannis, a village well hidden in the forest with only 15 inhabitants, has its doors open for us.
In the evening if your feet still support you, you can participate in an optional short hike to the Papakefala summit to enjoy the tranquil sunset.
Overnight in Agios Ioannis, Hotel Alonia (B,L,D)
Hiking distance:10km / Hiking Duration: 4h 30min

Day 7 - Aradena Gorge to Loutro and return to Chania
In the morning wake up to the quietness our mountain hideaway offers and savor a few moments over a steaming cup of coffee as the dew disappears in the morning sun. From Agios Ioannis we will head down to the Aradena gorge where the rocky riverbed is forced into an extremely narrow gap between sheer walls almost all the way down. This is a superb hike and the sense of achievement at the end is immense. Passing the beach of Marmara we’ll follow the coastal path which leads to the picturesque harbor of Loutro. A short ferry ride to Sfakia town will follow and from there we will drive to Chania city where we are going to have our farewell dinner.
Overnight in Chania, Kriti Hotel (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 12km / Hiking Duration: 5 Hours
Driving from: Chora Sfakion to Chania 70km, 2 Hours

Day 8 - Departure day
End of services after your mighty breakfast and of course your coffee! (B)

Price includes: All accommodations as listed (or similar) based on double occupancy, all transportation during the trip, Entrance fees at the Gorges of Agia Irini and Samaria, services of leader/guide throughout the tour, 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.

 

 

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.
 

This trip Level is, Moderate to Strenuous. Some days are a full day of hiking; others involve exploring ruins, villages, and towns on foot. It includes walking tours in cities and villages, and five days with moderate hikes of 3-7 hours, including one summit hike with elevation gains and losses of up to 3,300 feet.
Although the paths are quite well-kept the terrain in Greece tends to be very stony and rocky, especially during the gorge-walking. You will mostly be walking on unsurfaced tracks, footpaths, mountain trails and on some tarmac roads and be prepared for some steep ascents and descents.