The Pefki gorge
by / Juhani

Updated 06.04.2014

The Pefki (or Pefkoi) gorge is one of the most interesting among the short gorges in Crete. It is located on the south eastern coast of Crete, almost on the narrowest part of the island, north from the Analipsi village. The gorge starts from above and close to the Pefki village and ends down to the gravel road a few kilometres below. There is a versatile path, rich flora and stony grounds, plenty of details in the surrounding rock faces and there is also a pair of steel ladders at the steepest places.

The route to the Pefki gorge starts from the asphalt road from the southwest side of the village, along a well signed path that goes down, surrounded by olive trees.  After hen houses, a goat pen and a spring, that is mostly dry in September, the path makes a curve towards a crossroads, and there, on the right hand side, is a path that leads to the gorge. Beside that path lie the concrete foundations of two old mills.

The gorge is seen in front in the back edge of the valley bounded by high, dark rocks.

Looking back to the direction of Pefki village, when hiking towards the gorge
through the olive forest.
You can see here the Panorama picture (4 Mb) taken from the church seen on the top of the mountain in the background.

The path curves along the gorge’s right side towards the rocks and after a few hundreds of metres it reaches the start of the path that takes into the gorge.

A pile of stones and red marks lead the way down into the gorge. After going into the gorge, in some places it takes a while to find the marks that lead to the right direction; just follow the rocks that line the gorge. The path is very winding and you must be extra careful because of the loose gravel on the path, and it is good to wear gloves here so you can lean on the stones and branches. The character of the gorge comes out little by little when you go deeper into it. Panorama photo from middle part of the gorge.

In the Pefki gorge there are plenty of woods and bushes and in the rock faces there are beautiful, colourful formations made of stone. Many caves and holes, and why not the “half stalactites” that are on the rock faces, are interesting to see and on the upper part of the rock there are also whole stalactites. On the lower part of the path there is a solid arch over it, it is formed from gravel and stones and in many places it is loose because of erosion; almost every day something drops down from the arch. By scratching the surface it is easy to find out how compact it is. In Cretan gorges this kind of surface is quite rare. (Photo below).

The Pefki gorge is reasonably well marked; when going down it might take some time to find the right route, but the signs are always found. The most difficult places are a couple of metres high banks that you need to slide down and some big stones that you need to climb over. The shaky steel ladders are fairly high.

When going further on there is a huge stone that at first looks insurmountable, but after a while searching there is an easy way under the stone. (Photo above). It also seems that many people had not found this way and they have used the difficult one; climbing over the stone. To help the hiker there is a shaky wooden handrail in a couple of the steepest places on the path.

The first part of the gorge goes down on its right side and the end part, that ends the hiking to the map that stands by the gravel road, climbs up to the open left slope. The maps here are rough and there is not always certain knowledge where the right path really goes. The end point of the gorge, down by the gravel road, is still a few kilometres away from the coast, so it is recommended to hike the gorge to the end and back again. As an alternative it is possible to climb back to the Pefki village by the roads, but there is no shade and the roads are many kilometres long asphalted serpentine roads, so it might be more of a trial than a pleasure.

The Pefki gorge is recommendable destination because of its versatility, beautiful views and a plethora of details. Even when leaving from above, a strip of the south coast, some buildings and the Libyan Sea are seen above the woods of the gorge and they are also seen through the leaves of the trees during the hiking.

When the hiking is done from top to bottom, returning is even easier and new views open up.
When coming back to the parking place, in a pen, up on the rocky bank in the olive grove, there is a goat, a cock and a hen side by side watching down to the hikers.
So we were interesting rarities on that path and; was that the reason why we didn’t see any other hikers in there?

Pefki village surroundings:

Above the Pefki village there
is a church and from the yard of that church there is a nice view to the
surrounding areas and to the gorge area.
Below the church there is a place for cars and from there it takes a few hundred steps up to the church.
On the north side of the village there is also an interesting cave just a few hundred metres walk away from the parking place.

Additional information:
Hiking from above to down to the gravel road and back up takes a little more than two hours.
You need to carry your water and food with you.
It is recommended to use gloves and proper shoes.
There is always a danger of falling down because of the slippery loose gravel.
In the upper part of the gorge there are plenty of places shadowed by the trees.