Kritsa Gorge the (relatively) easy way

A bright blue sky October day was just right for our planned walk through the lower part of Kritsa Gorge.  You are welcome to print out the information here to aid your own walk or, if you would prefer a personal guide, email me on kritsayvonne@talktalk.net and I’ll put you in touch with a local expert.

This circular walk will take circa 2.5 hours, has a steep 20 minute uphill climb to start, and then it’s downhill all the way.  However you need stout footware, drinking water, physical ability to clamber over boulders, and confidence to use metal hand grabs in a couple of tricky places.

To get to the start:

By car – drive to Kritsa and before entering the village follow the signs to Lato. As you round a bend over a bridge you will see a sign pointing to the gorge on your left.  Drive along the gravel road and park near a small shrine.

Step by step: 

  • With the small shrine behind you walk forward and turn along a path to the right.  Ignore signs indicating the gorge is to your left – this is your return route.
  • Follow the path steeply uphill and lookout for a cairn of stones indicating a narrow path to the left – if you start to walk down hill retrace your steps as you have gone too far!
  • Once on the narrow path it rises steeply uphill, but soon becomes ancient cobbles,

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  • You will soon reach a rusty metal ‘gate’.  Undo the twisted metal ‘tie’ that secures the gate and pass through.  Secure the gate again.
  • As the path flattens out look to your left, you need to find faded red blobs of paint that indicate your route.

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  • You may find several red blobs of paint, but they fade with each season.  However, you will know that you have the right path when you see it stretching ahead of you between two stone walls.

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  • Follow the path and as you look to your distant right you may see cars parked outside of the Lato Archaeological site.
  • Pass through another metal gate remembering to secure it after you.
  • Soon afterwards your path will join a gravel road, bear left.

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  • Keep to this road and at the Y junction go left.  Yippee, you’ve started the down hill bit now…

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  • Keeping to the same path you will come to a rough Y junction, continue to bear left as you descend towards the gorge.
  • Pass through another metal gate remembering to secure it after you.

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  • Enter the gorge.  Here it is signed first exit, yes, we are going backwards compared to most people.  If you are feeling energetic and want more of an uphill hike you can follow the gorge up towards the small village of Tapes.  Otherwise, turn left to start your walk down through the gorge – watch out for loose stones and boulders underfoot!
  • Helpful people have built small cairns of stones that USUALLY show the easiest path.

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  • When you reach the narrow drops down there are robust metal hand grabs, and a little further on when the boulders are particularly high and smooth there are foot rests as well as hand grabs.

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  • After descending the huge boulders look to the left hand ridge to spot telegraph poles and a house.  This is where you are heading.
  • There are many stone cairns here and a dirt path rises to the left- ooh sorry I said it was all downhill, but there is one more uphill bit…

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  • Before you go back up, turn to look behind you.  That edifice looks so impenetrable it enabled Christian rebels to escape the Turk and Arab force that pursued them.

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  • You will know that you have taken your correct ‘escape route’ when you see that the path runs alongside a stone wall.

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  • Well that’s it – you are back to the start.  Perhaps you can make a comment about your walk, once you have your breath back of course!

6 thoughts on “Kritsa Gorge the (relatively) easy way”

  1. On 24th October 2014, I received a lovely email from Mike Garrett, a customer of Ekletos Bookshop in Elounda, who has kindly given me permission to reproduce his comments here:

    Just a quick thank you for the walk instructions, four of us -average age 70 – completed the walk last Sunday.Your friend from the bookshop in Elounda kindly printed them off for us.We thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the instructions were spot on.Good gripping walking shoes or boots are necessary and it would be easier going up than down but we all felt it was a great day out.

    Others may wish to spend more time in Kritsa and/or visit the chapel Panagia Kera (there is a bus stop at the chapel) and catch the 17.00 bus back to Ag Nik. For Elounda we caught the 16.00 bus back from Ag Nikos.

    Best wishes and good luck with the book. Mike
     

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  2. Hi Yvonne,
    The Samaria Gorge really appeals to me, but I’m a little concerned that my fitness levels might not manage a 16km hike. How does your Kritsa Gorge walk compare, or are there any others you would recommend as being a little less challenging than Samaria?
    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stuart. I loved the Samaria Gorge, it was just the thousands of other people rampaging down that spoilt it! The last part, when you are very hot, and the sun is probably high, is hard going as there is little shelter, I’m sure steam rose when we plunged in the sea! If I were to do it again I’d book accommodation in Agia Roumelli at the foot of the gorge where you get the boat that meets up with buses and coaches. This would mean a more leisurely pace on the descent with time to look around rather than needing to beat the clock.

      If you are in that area you might enjoy the Imbros Gorge. Not so arduous, less people and therefore more wildlife. I intend to do this one again at some point.

      If you are in the east, then Kritsa Gorge is good because you can choose to walk half (as detailed here) and then do the other half another day, or do half, assess how you’re feeling and decide whether or not to go on. If you walk right to the top at Tapes there are no facilities. It is hard to say if it’s better to walk up or down the gorge, depends on personal preferences. If we want a shorter walk we do it the way I describe. If we want a longer walk we leave a car near the Kritsotopoula memorial, walk to the first exit of the gorge, walk up to Tapes and then down an old trading path back to the car…. Mmmm, guess I’d best take my camera and write another post!

      Finally, if you go to the far east, then the Zakros Gorge is a fabulous walk with the benefit of a swim, and lunch at Kato Zakros and a mid afternoon bus back up to where you entered.

      Let us know how you get on. X

      Liked by 1 person

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