The Gorge of Orino
by Minoa.info / Juhani
starting point of the Orino gorge is easy to find; about one kilometre
west from the Makrialagos village, by the main road, there is a clearly
marked national nature reserve where the path starts.
Hiking started in a relaxed atmosphere along the flat gravel road in the shelter of a pine forest and after less than 15 minutes walk the road turned left to the gorge. Ahead there was the first climbing over the stones and knolls. In the beginning the path was quite easy to walk and the form of the gorge started to shape up little by little.
After a walk of few hundred metres on a gravel road the gorge starts here.
After a while, in the front, there was a five metres high rocky face and on the left side of the face there was a partly rotten ladder. It took a careful checking just to make sure that it was safe to use them for climbing up the rocky face. The crosspieces of the ladder were tied together and to the edge of the rock above with ten millimetres thick climbing rope. A couple of the crosspieces were replaced with boards; it was safe to make a careful climb but this ladder should be replaced soon.
On the top of the ladder there was no room to stand up because there was a ledge above.
The path lead forward and it looked like there were many routes going up. We chose the one that went through the canes, but soon we were not sure that it was the hiking path that we should follow, because it looked more like a path that goats use. Going through the canes was quite a zigzag and the visibility further ahead had disappeared, but after a half an hours walk we had left the canes and we saw the whole gorge again.
However, we were on the gorge’s left side and on the right side, beside the water pipe, there was a path with yellow arrows; the same marks that were by the path that we used in the beginning, so we went there. Following the path was easy and there were no hard or challenging places in this first stage, but for the children it is not recommended without reservations because of the shaky and high ladder and going through the canes. Also long trouser legs are recommended here because there are spiky bushes and broken canes with sharp ends.
As a resting place half way, there was the church of Agios Dimitrios, with the bell that we heard ahead when we were walking through the canes.
To judge by the voices there were also other travellers at the churchyard. When trying to reach the church we came up from a dry riverbed but the arrows led us back, and after walking a while we climbed up to a small farm. There was a small well taken care of house, surrounded by fruit trees and a kitchen garden, where amongst other plants, grew a few rows of maize, behind the house was the church. Inside the church there were many beautiful icons which were easier to see when the doors were wide open because the church was very dark inside. We had used more than one and a half hours to get there and we had climbed up only about 120 metres vertically measured. Next to the church there was a rare thing, in September in the middle of the dry season, a working water tap. Very likely this is a place where you can fill up your water bottles if you carry on climbing to the end point of the gorge or if you turn back down to the start. We continued climbing for the next one and a half hours to the end point, where there also is a church according to our map.
From the Agios Dimitrios church there was a gravel road up to the end point of the gorge. After a few hundred metres walk there was a special bridge that goes over a deep dry riverbed. It was about 7-8 metres high and about 50 centimetres wide solid concrete construction from top to bottom.
At the beginning of the bridge the handrails were missing on both sides, so we looked around for other alternatives because it didn’t feel safe to try to cross the bridge with a heavy knapsack. From the bridge it looked like the riverbed was far down. There was a possibility to avoid the bridge and cross the riverbed by walking.
So we walked along the gravel road until arrows showed down to the right, and by leaning on the bushes we went down to the bottom of the riverbed and climbed up the opposite slope.
After a while we saw another dry river bottom where someone had built a many metres wide, low concrete dam, and it must look nice in spring when there is water flowing. The path became steeper all the time and walking on a sandy path took our full attention and we needed to rest and drink more often because of the early afternoon heat. Fruits were a good snack during hiking and we had also potato crisps and a couple of chocolate bars with us and water, we had used one litre each so far.
The view from the end of the stage 2. The Agios Dimitrios church – the end of our stage 1- is the white dot faraway on the lower part of the green slope.
The path ended close to a fence and we needed to go through a bush to get to the other side of the fence and up to the slope on the right side. There was also a path on the left side but we chose the right one because of the old marks on the stones. The last steep gravel paths that were destroyed by the rains, took us to the end point of the gorge; the Christos Anastasi church, which came into sight suddenly. There were men modernizing the churchyard and the parking area. There we were, after three hours of hiking and climbing 352 metres vertically measured. This gorge is one of the most demanding among the fifteen gorges that we have gone through when measured by the physical performance.
Total hiking time up to the Christos Anastasi church is more than three hours.
Total climb is 352 metres.
The same start and end point, but with a car using the west side road, total distance is 9,4 kilometres.
Water we used about 1,5-2 litres each (in September).