The Gorge of Kritsa

by / Juhani

Updated 05.04.2014

Kritsa is an interesting and a beautiful gorge, it is like a compilation of many Cretan gorges; Sarakina’s vaulted walls, the huge stone piles of Diktamos, the cobblestones of Impros and Samarian’s narrow parts. Its length, about 6 kilometres, is usual among Cretan gorges.

You can find the entrance of Kritsa gorge by driving towards the gorge, starting from the northern side of the village and following shortly a small river channel.

But in one way Kritsa is unique, it is like walking in a town from one street corner to another; boulders are like blocks, the path turns from one corner to another, one view changes to a new one in a few moments.
The rich colours and tones of the stone surfaces and the forms that water has hollowed out are exceptionally beautiful in Kritsa. Besides these, there are many narrow parts between the beautiful rock faces. In the beginning of the gorge, during an hours walk, the gorge is extremely beautiful in many places and it demands you to stop and admire the colours and the versatility of the rock faces.

You can hike only the most beautiful part of the gorge up and down, it takes about one hour to walk to the “1st EXIT” sign that leads the way to a path that goes up to the right and away from the gorge.
(Photo on the right).

This is the place where you can decide either to continue hiking in the gorge, turn back or climb up to a path that leads away from the gorge. Returning along the gorge is easy and it takes about one hour. If you want to climb up from the gorge there is a path that takes you close to an ancient Doric village, Lato, which is a historically significant place. If you decide to continue hiking to the end point of the gorge it takes about one and a half hours more.

The gorge is quite well marked and only in one place the path veers away from the bottom of the gorge up to a forest and among olive trees. A reason for this is the piles of stones on the path that are hard to climb over, but it is only a few hundred metres walk. After that the path takes back to the bottom of the gorge where there are a few shortcuts across some curves just to make walking easier. After two hours walk the gorge opens to a wide valley and on its slopes there are olive groves. Only in a couple of places it takes some time to find the right direction but there are red arrows and piles of stones, that hikers have made, showing the right route.

The narrowest part of the gorge.

Kritsa has extremely beautiful stone colors.

The hardest part in the gorge is climbing over several stone piles where a normal physical condition is needed. (Photo above).
In many places it is better to push up your knapsack first and then climb up yourself because there is no room to keep it on your back and there is a steel bar supporting climbing over one of the stone piles. In the spring time it is possible that there is a small river flowing at the bottom of the gorge and limestone surfaces are very slippery when they are wet.

Panoramic image from the Kritsa gorge.

In the end of the Kritsa gorge.

When hiking is almost done the path goes up to the right to a gravel road and far ahead you can see a 1600 metres high mountain. The gravel road curves mainly up to the right and it takes about half an hours walk then after a crossroad, that goes left, and a few buildings there is an asphalt road. The road that leads to the left there is the Tapes village and the one that goes down to the right leads to the village of Kritsa, but it is 9 kilometres away and it takes about 2,5 hours walk along a winding asphalt road. The road to the Kritsa village runs through beautiful landscapes and pass a wide plain where there are olive trees growing. The same road runs also below the ancient Lato village, but walking through the gorge and back to the Kritsa village was so hard that Lato can wait for the next time.

You can buy everything you need during hiking from the Kritsa village because at the starting point of the gorge there are no services.

Additional information:
Carry all the water needed with you.
Length of the gorge path is 5,6 km.
Walking time from the parking place to the village road is 3 hours.
Ascent from the parking place to the village road is about 250 metres.