Cretan flora is one of the most interesting and important in Europe. According to recent publications, the flora of Crete consists of 1742 different plants, of which 177 are considered exclusively endemic and 38 belong to the wider region of Crete – Karpathos, meaning that 215 species cannot be found anywhere else in our Planet
Some of the plants of the Prefecture of Chania are considered to be directly in danger of extinction and exist in a specific area due to their uniqueness. Two of these plants in the Prefecture of Chania indicated in the list of the 50 most endangered plants of the Mediterranean islands, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
67 threatened plants in Crete have been listed in the “Red Data Book of Rare and Threatened Plants of Greece”, and 30 of them exist in the area of White Mountains. For the protection of 6 threatened plants and a palm tree habitat of Theophrastos, 7 Small Plant Stocks have been installed in the prefecture of Chania, co-funded by the European Union through a LIFE-Nature program.
The highlands – A paradise for nature lovers
On the mountain slopes there are many small traditional villages, forgotten by time, with their stone houses turned towards the sun, certainly interesting “green” destinations of Crete. Day after day, more and more wanderers try to explore them on foot, by jeep, horse or bicycle.
The E4 European path
The E4 path sets off at the Pyrenees, through the Alps and traverses the whole of Greece, reaching Kissamos in Crete. Then it also traverses Crete until Kato Zakros and ends in Cyprus. Walkers that follow the E4 have the chance, by walking on paths, climbing rocks and crossing wild gorges and forgotten residences, to discover hidden corners, to enjoy nature in all its grandeur and to experience traditions and customs alongside authentic people. The paths traverse almost the whole bulk of the mountain range and offer the most spectacular views.
Suggested routes of the E4 are:
1. Kasteli – Sfinari, 22,5 kilometers, 6,5 Hours Spring – Autumn
2. Sfinari – Chrisoskalitissa Monastery, 32 kilometers, Spring – Autumn
3. Chrysoskalitissa – Paleochora, 22 kilometers, Spring – Summer
4. Paleochora – Sougia, 14,5 kilometers, Spring – Autumn
5. Sougia – Agia Roumeli, 20 kilometers, April – September
6. Agia Roumeli – Loutro, 13 kilometers, year round
7. Loutro – Frangokastelo, 19,5 kilometers, year round
8. Sougia – Koustogerako – Omalos, 24,5 kilometers, Spring – Autumn
9. Sougia – Agia Erini gorge, 15 kilometers, May – September
10. Omalos – Agia Roumeli, 18 kilometers, May – October
Gorges – Caves
Protected species, such as the Cretan goat and the vulture-eagle, live at the National Park of the gorge of Samaria and there is of endemic plants which grow only there.The grandest gorge in Europe, the Samaria gorge, starts at the tableland of Omalos and is 16 km long and 3 to 300 m wide. Crossing of the gorge, which lasts about 4 to 5 hours, is allowed from May to September. For wanderers, mountain climbers and cave explorers, there are many preferred destinations in the prefecture of Chania, such as the gorge of St. Irene in Selino, Imbros gorge in Sfakia, Aradaina gorge, Therisso etc. and more than 1500 caves and sea caves.The most interesting ones are those of Apokoronas (Samonas, Kournas, Melidoni etc.), of St. John and the Bearcave near the monastery of Gouverneto.
The gorge of Samaria is the biggest, most imposing and beautiful gorge in Chania and in Europe, and that is why it is internationally renowned and mostly visited, since more than 300000 people have the opportunity to cross it each year. It has a wonderful landscape with rare geo-morphological formations. It is a unique biotope with particular richness in fauna and flora. It has a rich mythology as well, that goes back to pre-historical years and a tumultuous history during the difficult years of Crete. It was proclaimed National Park of the White Mountains of Crete in 1962.
Imbros Gorge in Sfakia
It is a small but very beautiful gorge visited each year by around 50.000 people since it is easy to cross any time of the year, especially when the gorge of Samaria is closed. The route starts from the mountainous village of Imbros in Sfakia, situated at an altitude of 780 m and a distance of 55 km from Chania.
There are also taverns with local delicacies in Imbros. The length of the gorge is 8 km and the course, depending on the walking pace, lasts 2 hours.
Agia Irini Gorge in Selino
On the western side of the White Mountains, in the province of Selino, another gorge opens up, with unique beauty and flora. The gorge has a lot of vertical passes and bears its name after the small village situated in the vicinity of its entrance, at a distance of 46 km from Chania. The gorge is 7,50 km long and it takes 3 hours to cross it.
The Gorge of Aradaina in Sfakia
The Gorge of Elygia
The Sfakian Gorge
The Gorge of Trypitis
The Gorge of Kladou in Sfakia (Domata)
The Gorge of Diktamou (Katechori Stilos)
The Gorge of Therisso or Eleytheriou Venizelou
The Gorge of Syrikari
The Gorge of Chalase or Sasalou
The Gorge of Prasse
The Gorge of Kavi or Iligga
The Gorge of Kapnis or Kapni
The Gorge of Asfendou
The Gorge of Kalikrati
The Gorge of Katholikou
Useful Phone Numbers
Hellenic National Tourism Organization, Chania Agency – Address: 40 Kriari – Pantheon Megaro
Greek Mountaineering Club of Chania Tzanakaki 90 str
(next the Olympic Airways, open every night)
Forestry office (& Samaria Park), Chrisopigi
The guardhouse of the Forest Authority of Xiloskalo Samarias
The guardhouse of the Forest Authority Ag. Roumelis Samarias
Shelter Kallergis of Omalos
Town Hall of Sfakia
Port Authority of Sfakia
Port Authority of Paleochora
National Instant Aid Center
PSEA (for emergency assistance)
Rescue and assistance team mountaineering club
Bus routes (K.T.E.L.) to the villages