The Astrakiano gorge starts just outside Astraki and crossing the hinterland of Heraklion ends in the area of Karteros.
Overall it is a large gorge in length, about 12.5 km, while the altitude difference between entrance – exit reaches 200 meters. It belongs to the three gorges of the Ecological-Archaeological Park of Yukhta and is distinguished for the richness of its natural, geomorphological and cultural characteristics. The Karteros river flows in the green bed of the gorge, which ends in the homonymous area and beach on the northern part of the island. Of particular interest is the landscape around the fairy cave with the small artificial lake and the abundant vegetation. The route to the gorge is not entirely accessible and in the past was partially destroyed with faded signs and rocks blocking the way. Renovation works are taking place to ensure a safer passage and caution is advised for the longer routes. Overall, it is a pleasant path through nature ideal for picnics.
At some point, the gorge merges with the nearby Kounaviano gorge, near the village Skalani. In the village of Astraki, the E4 European long-distance path crosses through on a path that starts in Archanes and carries on until the Monastery of Agarathos. To reach the area, you will drive south from Heraklion, for a distance of no more than 30 minutes or about 17 km. While it is easily accessible from the main city of Heraklion, this is a quiet area, with traditional villages that is perfect for some peace and relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the city .
In ancient years, the river was used for eel and crab fishing and there were several watermills along the gorge. Most of these have now been destroyed with only the ruins remaining to tell their tale. Endemic plants like wild sage and thyme grow along the river, and plane trees offer much-needed shade during the hot summer months. In the village of Myrtia nearby you may also visit the Museum of Nikos Kazantzakis. A modern museum, dedicated to the life and work of this renowned Greek literary figure; all exhibits are translated in English and there are several personal items on display.