Ε4.21 Katsiveli – Niatos

Additional Info

  • path length 17 km
  • duration 7 hours
  • suggested period From May to September
  • difficulty level One of Crete’s most difficult routes
  • markers' type E4
  • Region White Mountains, Chania

E4 Trail Map

Trail Vertical Alignment

Trail Detailed Description

Departing from Katsiveli (1), we begin to descend on the northern side of the saddle where the mountain shelter Christos Chouliopoulos is located.

We initially pass through by the centre of the slope, for a little while, following the clear path in a northerly direction. In a few minutes, we begin to descend towards the plateau of Livada (2)

Passing through the valley of Livada, the rocky foot of Svourichti is distinguished high above us to the right, where a water spring named Kanavonero is to be found, at an altitude of 2.200 m. After 45 minutes, a shepherd’s stone dairy hut (“mitàto”) can be seen ahead of us, on a low hill, at the south-eastern corner of Livada. It is a good idea to rest here for a while, given the fact that, from this point on, shade is not to be found for quite a few hours. 

 From the stone hut, following the continuance of Livada in a north-easterly direction, we reach the Mountain Shelter of Volikas, on the northern slopes of Lekfa Ori, about 4 hours away.

We continue on the saddle created by Svourichti and the peak of Agio Pnevma, in a somewhat south-easterly direction. A few minutes later, we reach a swallow hole to our left and immediately after a small plateau. We continue, going gently yet continuously uphill, and after about 40 minutes we reach two characteristic hollows with a rocky elevation in between.

We descend to the left-hand side hollow and we immediately ascend to a small rocky mountain line, which we follow through an area of swallow holes for about 15 minutes.

We then arrive at the top of the saddle (3) from where a magnificent view of the Kalives plain and of the sea opens up in the distance.

We leave Agio Pnevma to our left and climb towards a saddle which is formed on the slope of the peak of Grias Soros, on our left-hand side. Straight ahead of us the peak of Mikros Trocharis appears. Following the marks and the difficult to discern path on the northern side of Grias Soros, we reach a narrow passage through the rock. Once we pass through this narrow passage, which is called Sideroporti (4), we see a characteristic brown-coloured rock, a little higher up ahead of us, at about 100 m. We go towards this rock, bypass it from its right-hand side and begin to descend along the edge of the mountain line.

A gorgeous lunar landscape opens up now to our right. Vegetation is almost non-existent; here, during the hot summer months, the heat is unbearable.

We continue to descend the mountain line, following the southern side of Mikros Trocharis. Still walking along the slope, without any big ups and downs, we reach the saddle formed by Mikros Trocharis and Askifiotikos Soros (5). From Sideroporti until here, we have walked for about 40 minutes.

Since Sideroporti, our route has become relatively difficult, following through shaly slopes, and that is why we must be very careful in case of bad weather and snow, which is possible to be found, hampering us in our hike.

After the saddle of Askifiotikos Soros, we continue walking on the southern side of Mikros Trocharis. We follow more or less the same contour, turning slightly north-easterly in the hollow (6) which is formed by the slope, and then immediately to the south. After the nameless peak at 2.070 m, which we bypass walking along its foot, we turn to the east on its southern slope and then descend on the south-western slope of Koutalas. After about 1 hour and 20 minutes of a difficult hike from the saddle of Askifiotikos Soros, we arrive at a small plateau (7). Then, we immediately climb to the saddle (8), at an altitude of 1.800 m, on the north side of the peak of Fanari; there, we encounter the ruins of an old, rectangular-shaped, shepherd’s stone dairy hut.

From this saddle and on, the hike on the northern side of Fanari is one of the most difficult and dangerous in Crete. We follow a slightly downhill route on the slope where we come by several scree areas, big and small, which are extremely dangerous because of their rocky base. In addition to that, crevices and caverns gape up in many places, which can turn into fatal traps, especially when hiking with snow or fog. Down below, to our left, a small plateau can be seen.  

We cautiously pass through the slope; after about 1 hour of careful hike, we reach the eastern mountain line (9) of Fanari, and the summit of Kastro appears to the south of Fanari. We follow a slightly southerly route and immediately after we descend towards a valley (10) created by the sides of the two peaks.

Sparse vegetation can be seen now, becoming thicker as we descend towards the plateau on the foot of the mountain. At the north-eastern foot of the mountain, cypresses, cedars and kern oaks prevail.

We descend to the plateau (altitude: approximately 1.250 m), where an old water tank (11) is to be found beneath a characteristic oak tree. From this point, following a dirt road in a southern direction for 10 minutes, we arrive at the plateau of Niatos (12). On the small plateau there is a peripheral dirt road which we ignore; we crossthe plateau, going towards its eastern exit. There, we reach the dirt road again and follow it for about 15 minutes, until the Mountain Shelter of Tavri (13), of the Mountaineering Club of Chania.

The hike from the Christos Chouliopoulos Mountain Shelter until Askifou takes approximately 9 hours, in total, under normal weather conditions. The reverse route, from Askifou to the shelter, is definitely more tiring and takes a longer time, due to its particular features and the continuous climbing, which is necessary, from 730 m to 2.100 mon rough, bare slopes. Special caution should be taken in the section from Niatos until the southern slope of Mikros Trocharis. In case you wish to hike from the east to the west, it is advised to set off early in the morning, having put up for the night at the Mountain Shelter of Tavri.

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