Crete, on the whole, is a mountainous island. Its mountain ranges are torn apart by magnificent, deep, wild gorges, which begin at high altitudes and usually end up at the coast.
Given the fact that these gorges were formed by the united forces of water, wind and sun, they are rightfully considered true monuments of nature. In the Sfakia area alone, within a distance of 35 kilometres, there are 15 gorges, located roughly parallel to one another.
The most famous of them is the gorge of Samaria. Numerous rare endemic species of flora grow there, and a large number of raptors nest in the cracks on its walls: Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus), Golden Eagles (Aquilachrysaetos), Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barbatus), etc. The famous Cretan wild goat (Capra aegagrus cretica), which was believed to be the sacred animal of Britómartys (the Artemis of the Minoans) also finds shelter in the gorge of Samarià.
Information about the main gorges of Crete is provided below.
The gorge of Aradena is one of the most significant and impressive gorges of Crete. Its entrance is located at the deserted village of Aradena, which is to be found at the western end of theplateau of Anopoli Sfakion, below the imposing, high peaks of the Lefka Ori mountain range.
about 5,5 km
The gorge of Imbros, in the area of Sfakia, is one of the deepest and narrowest gorges of Crete. It begins a little to the south of Imbros village, on Askifou plateau, and ends up after approximately 5 kilometres, at the village of Komitades, near the beach of Frangokastello.
about 5 km
This is one of the most beautiful gorges of Crete. Magnificent vertical cliffs can be seen on both its sides, reaching as high as 300 metres at several places. It is 2,5 kilometres long and the elevation difference between the entrance point and the outlet is 150 metres.
about 2,5 km
The gorge of Kotsifos is smaller than the neighbouring Kourtaliotiko gorge, but equally impressive. It is located between the peaks of Kouroupa (984 m) and Krioneritis (1.312 m). It is 2 kilometres long and the elevation difference between the highest point of the route in the gorge and the outlet is 390 metres.
about 2 km
The gorge of Arvi, which is one of the most spectacular gorges of Crete, has a north to south orientation. It begins in the Amiras area and ends up at the Libyan Sea shore. The outlet of the gorge is next to the Monastery of Agios Antonios, a little to the north of the current coastal settlement of Arvi. The gorge can be visited all year round, except in the winter time, due to rainfall.
This is a gorge which is fairly easy to pass through. It begins east of the location of Sfakidia and ends up at the bay of Faneromeni, next to the Monastery of Faneromeni. It has no dangerous passes, however the route is not easily discernible at all places.