Tips for crossing Samaria

Read the practical tips that are useful for your visit to Samaria.
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Rules and regulations of the Samaria National Park  

Rules and regulations of the Samaria National Park Dates and opening hours The National Park opens on 1st May until 31st October each year, from 7 am until 4 pm, with entrances at Xyloskalo and Agia Roumeli. Guidelines for visitors Visitors can walk along the length of the main footpath. All those who wish to walk beyond the main footpath require a special license. THE FOLLOWING ARE PROHIBITED
  1. Destroying or removing Park technical works and materials. 2. Cutting trees and bushes, uprooting and collecting plants and seeds. 3. Collecting and transporting plant soil and firewood. 4. Lighting fires in general and smoking in all areas apart from the recreational areas. 5. Camping in any form and staying the night within the Park. 6. The free movement of any animals accompanying visitors. 7. Displaying and erecting boards and signs. 8. Selling food and other items as well as their display or distribution. 9. Consumption of alcohol. 10. Hunting of all animals. 11. Removal or destruction of all nests, eggs and newborns and the general disturbance or destruction of wildlife. 12. Swimming in the Park’s rivers and streams. 13. Annoying other visitors. 14. Dumping waste in areas other than the waste bins. 15. Damage to the geological formations and cultural monuments. 16. Photographing visitors for commercial purposes. 17. Grazing of animals. 18. Setting up beehives without a license from the Forestry Service.

Instructions from the sign at the entrance of the Gorge

Welcome to the Gorge of Samaria The area that you are about to visit is unique. Its beauty, however, hides dangers. Personal safety as well as the area’s safety requires precautions. You are kindly requested to read carefully the following regulations, in order to have a safe and pleasant visit. Follow precisely the instructions provided by the park rangers and the warning signs, especially those referring to falling rocks. Do not deviate from the main path for any reason. Special attention should be given to fire issues. Always observe the five-scale daily hazard index. Report immediately any relevant indication (e.g. smoke). Smoking is allowed only at the rest stations. After the 2nd kilometer, locate the riverbed where you can recourse in case of danger. Emergency line 112. Besides the necessary sun protection means, make sure you take along any medication that you will probably need in the gorge. Please report to the park rangers any health problem you may encounter. Walk slowly in the gorge, and have several stops. Take time to observe the area around you. Prefer an overnight stay at Agia Roumeli to a day trip.

Map of the route

Map in english
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Google Street View Special Collects: https://www.google.com/streetview/#greece-highlights/samaria-gorge

Useful information about hiking in the Gorge of Samaria

According to the rules and regulations of the National Park, you can hike only along the central path inside the Gorge of Samaria. You can access the Gorge through two entrances– one at the north (“Xyloskalo”) located near Omalos plateau, and one at the South – near the coastal village of “Agia Roumeli”. Xyloskalo is accessed by car but the south entrance is only accessed by boat. The main path inside the Gorge is 13 km. The distance from the south entrance to Agia Roumeli is a further 3 km. So, the total route is ~16 km. The natural direction through the gorge is that which follows the slope of the terrain, from Xyloscalo (altitude 1227 m) until the surface of the sea at Agia Roumeli (altitude 0 m). The path is at its largest part rocky. You will also have to cross the river several times, either by stepping on small wooden bridges, or by stepping on rocks that were placed to create a passage across the river.  So, it is not considered an “easy” walk, but this doesn’t mean that it is only addressed to experienced hikers. Approximately 800 people hike the Gorge every day. An average walk takes ~ 6-7 hours, since you will normally make some stops. There are some recreational points inside the Gorge of Samaria where you can stop for a while, rest and enjoy the scenery.

Entrance fee

To enter the Gorge of Samaria there is an entrance fee that costs five (5) euros. Children under 15 years old have a free pass. The entrance fee is the same regardless you wish to enter the Gorge only for a few kilometers or for the entire route. NoteIt is important to keep your ticket in order to be checked at the exit. This is done for the safety of the visitors, since the Park rangers will know how many people have entered and exited the Gorge.

Alternative routes inside the Gorge of Samaria

Only the main path inside the Gorge of Samaria is accessible to visitors. However, you may choose to enter the Gorge from the north or the south entrance or perhaps you may choose not do the whole route. Below you will find some information to help you plan your visit in a way that is more convenient to you.
Suggested /most popular route
Hiking the whole 16 km route, starting from Xyloskalo and ending to Agia Roumeli. Using the public transfer servicesXyloskalo“ is accessed by the public bus which starts from the central bus station in Chania (KTEL) and ends to “Omalos“. The route lasts ~ 60 minutes and the ticket costs 7,50 euros for one adult. If you wish to avoid the early morning ride, you can arrange to stay the previous night to a hotel at Omalos. Once you have reached Omalos, you will have to obtain your ticket to enter the gorge. Tickets are issued in the courtyard of the Information Center, which it is worth to visit before crossing the gorge, as you will find some useful information about the protected area (natural & man-made environment). The entrance to the Information Center is free. After you have obtained your ticket, you can go to the entrance gate and start descending inside the Gorge. An average walk takes ~ 6-7 hours. If you wish, there is a private small bus at the exit f the gorge, which can take you to the village of Agia Roumeli, to avoid walking the last kilometers of the route.When you reach Agia Roumeli you have three alternative solutions to return to the city of Chania:
  1. Take the boat for Sfakia (Chora Sfakion) –the boat trip lasts ~1 hour and the costs 12.50 Euros for one adult.
  2. Take the boat for Sougia–the boat trip lasts ~40 minutes and it costs 11.00 Euros for one adult.
  3. Take the boat for Paleochora–the boat trip lasts ~90 minutes and it costs 17.20 Euros for one adult.
When you reach your destination, normally there will be a public bus that you can take to return to Chania. -From Sfakia (Chora Sfakion) to Chania– 8.30 Euros – ~1 hour & 40 minutes – From Sougia to Chania– 7.80 Euros – ~1 hour & 50 minutes – From Paleochora to Chania – 8.30 Euros – ~1 hour & 50 minutes Please click here to check the timetables & prices. KTEL CHANION-RETHIMNOU (public bus): http://www.e-ktel.com/en/ ANENDYK (boat trip): http://www.anendyk.gr The Management Body of Samaria National Park is not responsible for any changes in the routes or prices of the transfer services. Visiting the Gorge with an organized tour If you do not wish to use the public bus you can find an organized tour. We cannot suggest particular tourist operators, but you can find easily one, since there are many tourist agencies that organize tours to Samaria. You can either search the web, or find one while walking in the city of Chania (or at the place you stay in Crete), or perhaps you could ask for information at your hotel. Reaching the Gorge of Samaria by your own car If you want to reach Xyloskalo by your car this is also possible, although it is not highly recommended, since you will have to return to Omalos to take it back. For this situation, when you reach Agia Roumeli you must take the boat to Sougia. From Sougia, there is a public bus that returns to Omalos. Please check the timetables here [http://www.e-ktel.com/en/]. The ticket costs 5.30 Euros for one adult. Alternatively, you can arrange to return to Omalos by taxi. Please find the contact to Sougia taxis for further information. Alternative routes
  • There are some people who wish to hike the Gorge starting from Agia Roumeli to arrive to Xyloskalo. In this case, it is recommended to have stayed overnight to Agia Roumeli and start your walk early in the morning. Moreover, you must keep in mind that the last kilometers of the walk will be difficult, since you will have to climb on a quite steep path. This choice should be avoided by those who are not physically fit.
  • If you do not wish to do the whole route, you can reach Sfakia, Sougia, or Paleochora by bus or your car. Then, you can take the boat ANENDYK to Agia Roumeli, where you will start crossing of the gorge in reverse. The entrance ticket in this case also costs 5€. The most famous sight inside the Gorge, “Portes” is situated ~1.5km from the outpost of Agia Roumeli.
  • If you do not wish to do the whole route, you can also enter the Gorge from Xyloscalo for a few kilometers. You can reach Xyloscalo by your own car or by bus or taxi. Again you must keep in mind that the route will be more tiring on your return, since the path is quite steep (higher altitude difference).

Useful advice

  • It is recommended that the entrance to the Gorge from Xyloscalo should be done as early as possible.
  • The crossing must be done slowly, with many stops and following the instructions of informational placards and rangers.
  • The visitors must have appropriate clothing, footwear and sun protection (hat, sunscreen).
  • You must have with you something to eat, since there are no shops inside the Gorge of Samaria.
  • You must have water with you, but since there are several springs inside the Gorge you can refill your bottle.
  • There are toilets in several places along the path.
  • You must dispose your litter only in the waste bins that you will find along your way.

Frequently asked questions

Which period is the Gorge open to the public? According to the Rules and regulations of the National Park, Samaria Gorge opens on 1st May until 15st October each year, from 6 am until 4 pm. Weather permitted, the period the gorge remains open can be prolonged until 31st October. However, the Gorge could close earlier if the path gets damaged after e.g. a big storm. Additionally, if the weather is favorable and the main path has not been damaged from a severe winter period, the Gorge could open earlier, but not earlier from from 10th April, either for the whole route, or for 2 km from the south & 2 km from the north. The official opening and closing of the National Park is arranged through a Resolution of the Secretary of the Decentralized Administration of Crete. For more information regarding the opening and closing time of the Gorge, please check our website: http://www.samaria.gr/en/home-2/. Alternatively you can call our offices:  +30 28210 45570, or you can call the forest outpost at the entrance of the Gorge: +30 28237 70046. Until which hour of the day can I enter the Gorge? According to the Rules and Regulation, the National Park opens on 1st May until 15th October each year, from 6 am until 4 pm.   However, since no overnight stay is permitted inside the Gorge, if you wish to enter the Gorge after a certain hour of the day, you will not be allowed to do the whole route. This is done because you will not have enough time to reach the exit before it gets dark. The same could happen early in the morning if it is not yet dawn and for your own safety you should enter the gorge later (eg at 07:00 am instead of 6:00 am). Because this changes during the operation period of the gorge, for information regarding the earliest or the latest that you can enter the gorge, it is better to contact the entrance gate: +30 28237 70046 for further information. Could the Gorge close one day unexpectedly? The Gorge could close one or more days if the weather is not favorable (e.g., if rain or heat wave is expected). This is done as a precaution measure for the safety of the visitors. The decision for the closing of the Gorge is taken the previous day. You can call our offices:  +30 28210 45570, or the forest outpost at the entrance of the Gorge: +30 28237 70046 for relative information. Finally, you must keep in mind that, especially in autumn, the Gorge could be open but if the weather is windy there could be no boats departing from Agia Roumeli and you might have to stay there for the night. If you do not wish to do that you should better check the timetables by contacting the ANENDYK shipping company: Agia Roumeli Agency Tel: +30 28250-91251 Chania  Agency Tel: +30 28210 95511 & +30 28210 95530 How can I get to the Gorge of Samaria? Please see the section “Alternative routes inside the Gorge of Samaria”. Can children walk through the Gorge? There is no specific age rule for the entrance to the Gorge. However, you must keep in mind that the path is long (16 km) and quite steep (rocks at the most part of the path), so we wouldn’t recommend taking small children with you. If you decide, nonetheless, to take your children with you, you must be sure that they can hike. In any case, you must not leave your children unattended. Can I take my dog to the Gorge? According to the Rules and Regulations of the National Park you can take your dog with you, only if it is on lease, since the free movement of any animals accompanying visitors is prohibited. Contact Information Samaria National Park Management Body offices: tel.: +30 28210 45570 e-mail: info@samaria.gr Forest Outpost at Xiloskalo: +30 28237 70046 Forest Outpost at Agia Roumeli: +30 28250 91254
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