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The gorge of Kourtaliotiko is one of the most well known and popular for nature lovers in the region of Rethymno in southern Crete.
Kourtaliotiko gorge is a natural attraction located in the south of the island of Crete in Greece. The gorge is known for its stunning beauty and rugged terrain, with steep cliffs, narrow passages, and deep ravines. The gorge is located in the region of Rethymno, near the village of Koxare and the town of Plakias. It is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, who come to explore the area’s rugged landscape, enjoy the views, and take in the natural beauty of the region. The gorge is also home to a variety of flora and fauna, including rare plant species and indigenous animals.
Very close to the village of Frati it is situated on the eastern side of the Xiro Oros mountain range, and the peak of Kouroupa (984 m). It takes its name from the Kourtaliotis River, which starts close to the village of Koxare and flows towards the magnificent lagoon of Lake Preveli.
The Route of Kourtaliotiko Gorge
The route through the canyon is pleasant and relatively easy, suitable for children and families. A little picturesque chapel can be seen approximately in the middle of the route, on the western side of the gorge, inside a cave. In the charming chapel of Saint Nicholas, you will find a rest area with springs, and the impressive waterfall of Kourtaliotis, where the water comes cold even during the summer. For those after a bit more of a challenge, you can carry on towards the bridge of Megalos River and ultimately reach the palm forest of Preveli in the southern coast.
Why is Kourtaliotiko Gorge significant in Crete’s history?
Kourtaliotiko gorge has a long and interesting history that dates back to ancient times. The gorge is believed to have been used as a natural fortress by the ancient Minoans, who lived on the island of Crete more than 4,000 years ago. In the Middle Ages, the gorge was used as a route for transporting goods between the towns of Plakias and Koxare.
Throughout its history, Kourtaliotiko gorge has also played a role in the local culture and traditions of the region. The gorge is mentioned in many local myths and legends, and is considered a sacred place by some. The area is also home to several small chapels and churches, which have played an important role in the religious and spiritual life of the local community.
In modern times, Kourtaliotiko gorge has become a popular tourist destination, with visitors from all over the world coming to explore its rugged landscape and take in the stunning views. The gorge is also a popular spot for outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and photography. Despite its popularity, the gorge remains an important part of the local culture and traditions, and efforts are being made to preserve its natural beauty and cultural significance for future generations.
Nature around Kourtaliotiko Gorge
Kourtaliotiko is one of the most beautiful gorges of Crete, with magnificent vertical cliffs that can be seen on both its sides. The cliffs reach 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. The gorge is almost bare. It was formed from limestone, which is why there are numerous small caves along the way. It is a nesting and foraging area for many rare bird species, mostly raptors, a fact that justifies its international importance as a bird habitat. Mountain goats can often be spotted on the steep vertical hills.
Kourtaliotiko gorge is known for its stunning natural beauty, with steep cliffs, narrow passages, and deep ravines that create a rugged and dramatic landscape. The gorge is located in the region of Rethymno on the island of Crete in Greece, and is surrounded by picturesque countryside and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.
One of the most striking features of Kourtaliotiko gorge is its towering cliffs, which rise up from the ground and soar into the sky. These cliffs are made up of layers of rock and soil that have been formed over millions of years, and are home to a variety of flora and fauna. The cliffs are also a popular spot for rock climbing and other outdoor activities.
Another impressive feature of Kourtaliotiko gorge is its deep ravines and narrow passages, which wind their way through the landscape and create a sense of mystery and adventure. These passages are often shaded by tall trees and plants, and are home to a variety of wildlife.
Only 22 km from Rethymno and about an hour and a half from Chania, you can trek Kourtaliotiko gorge as part of a short day excursion or combine it with the plethora of attractions on offer nearby. This is an area that combines the stunning natural attractiveness of the mountains, with the magnificent coastline of the Libyan Sea. Do not skip a visit to the palm forest of Preveli beach.
Overall, Kourtaliotiko gorge is a truly stunning natural attraction that offers visitors the chance to explore a rugged and dramatic landscape and take in the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding countryside.
Flora & Fauna around Kourtaliotiko Gorge
There is a breeding pair of vultures in this area in south central Crete, which is one of the few remaining breeding pairs in the Balkans. There are also other species that find shelter here, including griffon vultures, golden eagles, and Bonelli’s eagles. Located between the White Mountains and central Crete (Psiloritis and Asterousia), the area is a critical habitat for birds of prey.
Biologically, ecologically, and aesthetically, Kourtaliotiko is a remarkable place. On the slopes of the gorge, one can find rich vegetation, as well as clusters of Cretan Date Palm trees (Phoenix theophrastii), the second largest palm forest in Crete. There are also sand dunes and posidonia (Posidonia oceanica) formations along the river estuary, which are protected marine plants. The local fresh-water snake (Elaphe situla) and the tortoise (Auremys caspica) are significant animals in the region of Kourtaliotiko gorge.
Activities in Kourtaliotiko Gorge
Kourtaliotiko gorge is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of activities for visitors to enjoy. Some of the outdoor activities that can be enjoyed at Kourtaliotiko gorge include:
- Hiking: The gorge is a great place for hikers, with a network of trails that wind their way through the landscape and offer breathtaking views of the surroundings.
- Rock climbing: The steep cliffs and rocky terrain of Kourtaliotiko gorge make it an ideal spot for rock climbing.
- Photography: The gorge is a beautiful and photogenic place, with dramatic landscapes and breathtaking views. Photographers will find plenty of opportunities to capture stunning images of the gorge.
- Wildlife watching: The gorge is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including rare plant species and indigenous animals. Visitors can enjoy spotting these creatures as they explore the area.
- Swimming: The gorge is located near the Mediterranean Sea, which offers opportunities for swimming and other water-based activities.
Overall, Kourtaliotiko gorge is a great place to enjoy a range of outdoor activities, whether you are an experienced adventurer or simply looking to explore the beauty of the natural world.
How to access Kourtaliotiko Gorge
From Heraklion, it is possible to rent a car or take public transportation to reach the gorge. The gorge is also accessible by bus from the city of Rethymno, which is located about 22 kilometers away.
Once you arrive in the area, there are several trails that lead to the gorge, and it is possible to park your car near the entrance to the gorge and walk the rest of the way. The gorge is also accessible by foot from the nearby village of Koxare, and there are several guided tours available that can take you to the gorge and provide more information about the area.
Helpful tips before visiting Kourtaliotiko Gorge
The following tips and recommendations will help you make the most of your trip to Kourtaliotiko Gorge:
- Make sure you wear comfortable shoes: The gorge’s terrain is rough and uneven, so it’s wise to wear comfortable shoes.
- Make sure you wear sunscreen and a hat: Since the gorge is located in a sunny and warm region, make sure you protect yourself from the sun.
- Bring a picnic lunch: The gorge is a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch, so bring some food and drink to enjoy while exploring.
- Don’t rush: There’s a lot to see and do in the gorge, so take your time and enjoy everything it has to offer.
- Keep it clean: The gorge is a natural attraction, so be sure to make sure you don’t leave a trace and help preserve it.
As a whole, Kourtaliotiko Gorge is a stunning and rugged destination that offers a wide range of outdoor activities. It’s easy to make the most of your trip to the gorge with a little planning and preparation.
Hiking in Crete
Crete is a great destination for hikers, offering a wide range of trails, breathtaking views, and diverse terrain. Whether you are an experienced hiker or simply looking to enjoy the beauty of the natural world, there is something for everyone on the island. One of the best places to go hiking in Crete is the White Mountains, which are located in the central part of the island. The White Mountains are home to a network of trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean Sea. The trails range in difficulty from easy to challenging, and offer something for hikers of all levels.
Another popular destination for hikers in Crete is the Samaria Gorge, which is the longest gorge in Europe. The gorge is home to a variety of flora and fauna, and is a great place to spot rare plant species and indigenous animals. The hike through the gorge is challenging, but offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and the Mediterranean Sea.
In addition to the White Mountains and Samaria Gorge, there are many other trails and hiking routes to explore in Crete. Some of the other popular destinations for hikers include the Elafonisi Beach and the Dikti Mountains.