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This island walking holiday on Crete provides the best that the region has to offer. Discover isolated beaches, secluded coves and impressive canyons walking in the White Mountains and through the Samaria and Zaros Gorges.
Explore Tour Leader
6 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights simple hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Chania, a beautiful old Venetian walled town, with a bustling harbour and lively tavernas. A great place to start your introduction to Crete.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. Due to the number of evening flights into Chania, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day 2, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Chania at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at Chania International Airport (CHQ) which is around 20 minutes' drive from the hotel.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to stroll along the narrow streets to the Venetian harbour and along the harbour wall to the Lighthouse. There are numerous waterfront restaurants where you could sample a selection of Cretan meze.
Arkadi Hotel (or similar)
This morning we will take a walking tour around Chania. We will walk around the harbour, lined with pastel-coloured buildings and through the winding back streets, home to the traditional cobblers who make the very traditional Cretan leather boots. This afternoon we take a bus up the winding roads to the Omalos Plateau (1,082 metres/3550 feet). This wild plateau is situated in the middle of the massive White Mountains, poised on the edge of a titanic split in the rock and the gateway to the longest and perhaps most beautiful ravine in Europe, the Samaria Gorge. The isolation of the plateau made it an historic refuge for Cretan revolutionaries against the Turks.
Today's two kilometre walk is expected to take around one-and-a-half hours along a flat route.
Neos Omalos Hotel (or similar)
Today we walk through this spectacular gorge. To make the complete descent to the fishing village of Agia Roumeli may take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. We follow a steep zig-zag path, some 760 meters/2494 feet down into the gorge itself, past high cypress trees and many different alpine shrubs - and if we're very lucky, we may catch a glimpse of the wild Cretan Ibex (Kri Kri) leaping from ledge to ledge. In midsummer, the river dries to a trickle, but there are still stretches of water to be crossed with handy stepping stones. After walking for roughly three hours from the entrance at Xiliskalo, we stop at the now uninhabited village of Samaria, where the Venetian Church of Holy Mary with its old Byzantine mosaics and inscription over the front door can be seen. Now the gorge really starts to close in around us, and the river often disappears underground. After passing below the Church of Aphendis Christos, we hike through the narrowest part, the sidheroportes (the 'iron gates', only 4 metres/13 feet wide, but over 350 metres/1148 feet high), and continue along the rocky riverbed into the small village of Agia Roumeli.
Tonight we stay in a family ran property located on the beach of Agia Roumeli. The simply furnished rooms are en-suite with air-conditioning. The taverna is open all day for food, serving delicious Cretan food.
Today's 15 kilometre walk is expected to take around six-and-a-half hours with 1,250 metres of descent. There is an alternative walk down Agia Irini gorge to Sougia and then take a boat from Sougia to Agia Roumeli that can be chosen by your Explore leader if the Samaria gorge is closed due to risky weather conditions.
Paralia Rooms (or similar)
Today we take a beautiful walk along the coast, following the well marked cliff path we walk through pine woods, passing by secluded beaches. At Ayios Pavlos we will see on old chapel situated on a ledge above the water, built on the spot that Saint Paul is said to have first arrived at in Crete. Inside the somewhat crumbling facade are frescos dating to the thirteenth century.
For those who would prefer not to walk today there is the option to have a relaxing morning in Roumeli and then take the ferry to Loutro (not included).
Today's 15 kilometre/9.3 miles walk is expected to take around five-and-a-half hours with 275 metres/902 feet of ascent and descent.
Xenia Hotel (or similar)
This quaint seashore village, perched on craggy rocks and nestled in a cove, affords an opportunity to experience life in a less accessible part of the island. Most houses are the very traditional white with blue shutters providing a harmony of architecture. We'll spend the day here, perhaps taking a walk along the coast or inland, swimming or simply relaxing. An optional boat trip by water taxi can often be arranged to Marmara or Finix beach.
Alternatively, you may prefer something more active such as a full day or half day walk behind the village, up to the historic village of Anopolis or perhaps down the Aradena Gorge enjoying spectacular views of the coast en route. In the evening you may care to try the delicious fresh seafood caught by local fishermen.
Today's optional 12 kilometre/7.5 miles walk is expected to take around 5 hours.
Today we get the ferry along the coast to Chora Sfakion. A pleasant coastal village with a few hundred inhabitants and an old reputation as a lair of brigands, smugglers and pirates. The Sfakians cherish their independence and see themsleves as Sfakians first, Cretans second and Greeks third! As a rallying point for revolutionaries, there are many sea caves in the area which were used as great hiding places during disputes. We then journey by bus to Zaros in the rugged Idi Mountains. We'll pause en route at Preveli cliff-top monastery. Perched high above the sea, its fame was capped in World War Two when the monks sheltered allied troops who were stranded on the island after the Battle of Crete and helped them to escape from the beaches nearby. The views from here are magnificent. We also break the journey for a short while in the pretty Greek village of Spili . We plan to arrive in the village of Zaros in the early evening.
Hotel Idi (or similar)
Deep in the heart of Crete are the Idi Mountains This region is very scenic and is particularly noted for its spring waters, which are bottled and sold throughout the island. Our primary reason for visiting Zaros is to walk in the surrounding mountains, and we set off after breakfast to explore the dramatic Rouvas Gorge. Local vehicles take us to a steep rough track from where we'll descend the dramatic 5km long gorge on foot enjoying spectacular views of the Psiloritis range as we go. The afternoon is left free for you to explore the surrounding area. Located in a peaceful setting overlooking the Koutsoulidi valley, this is an ideal spot to relax.
Today's 5.5 kilometre/3.4 miles walk is expected to take around four-and-a-half hours with 540 metres/1772 feet of descent.
We leave Zaros today to drive to Heraklion Airport where the trip ends.
There will be a transfer provided to Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport (HER) today, which is around a one hour drive from the hotel. The transfer will arrive at the airport around 11.45am, the earliest your flight can depart is 1.45pm.
If you have a later flight you can store your luggage at the airport and take a taxi in to the city if you wish.
Total distance : 49.5 kilometres
Greece has such a vast geographical difference between the mainland and the islands, and travel is possible at all times of year but the climate can vary depending on when you go.
During late spring or early autumn, in the months of April-May or September-October, temperatures are warm and pleasant, usually hovering around 25 degrees. Rainfall is low, but can be erratic during these months. Cooler evenings take the heat off the day. If you have booked a walking holiday, wild flowers bloom during the spring, adding colour to the hiking trails.
Summers are hot and dry, with plenty of sunshine and little rain. Temperatures can go north of 35 degrees in July and August. On the islands, restaurants and bars may be busy with cruise ship passengers. While this period definitely gives you a ‘summer holiday’ feeling, those wishing to explore Greece’s ancient sites may find the heat challenging.
When travelling in winter, from late November to early March, the villages will be very quiet. Temperatures in Athens at this time are around 10-15 degrees, while the nights will be colder. Hotels in northern Greece in particular are well adapted to deal with cold winters, having proper heating and warm fires to retreat to after a day of exploring. This makes it a good destination for travel between November-March.
2 Pin Round
Loutro - Water taxi to nearby beaches €7 approx. Ferry from Agia Roumeli to Loutro - €13 Cooking Lesson - €15 Heraklion airport - luggage storage €6 for 6 hours, €11.50 for 24 hours, Public airport bus from city centre €2 (from main bus station, 20-3 30 minutes' drive) or taxi to the airport is €20 (10 minute's drive) 17
Bring light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. It can become cool, especially at night, so bring warmer layers. Tops made from wicking materials which keep you drier, a warmer fleece is recommended as a mid layer, and walking trousers are preferable to trousers of heavier material such as jeans. -Breathable wind and waterproof jacket -T-shirts -Long sleeved tops -Sunhat -Long trousers -Shorts (if you prefer to walk in them) -Swimwear and towel -Midlayer Fleece/pullover -Socks (liner and thicker pair) -Insulated jacket
We recommend you bring lightweight walking boots with ankle support, make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
Bring one main piece of luggage and a 20-30 litre day sack is recommended. You will need to carry what you need for the day which may include a raincoat, jumper, camera, sun-cream, water and picnic lunch. On hot days you will carry fewer clothes but more drinking water. You will be carrying only your day bag during the walks and main luggage shall be transported from hotel to hotel by car.
-Sunglasses -Sun cream -Small Torch (with spare batteries and bulb) -Camera -Walking poles (if you usually use them) -Personal toiletries -Personal first aid kit - On each walk a first aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin and other essentials. -Insect repellent -Small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone) -Reusable water bottle (minimum 1 litre) - Get 15% discount on a Water-to-Go bottle www.explore.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/water-to-go-discount-with-explore -Lunch bag/Tupperware (for packed lunches)
Bus, Ferry, Taxi
Throughout this trip we use a mixture of simple and comfortable accommodation. As with the nature of apartments in this part of the Mediterranean the size and standard of the rooms can vary, the rooms will be decorated in a plain style with private bathrooms and some may have a balcony or terrace. We try to use smaller, family-run hotels and pensions that might not offer the same luxuries as larger chain-style hotels, but they do provide a warm welcome, a comfortable place to stay and the chance to gain a better understanding of local life. In Agia Roumeli we stay in a family ran property on the beach. The en-suite rooms are plainly decorated with minimal furnishings.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
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Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
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Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Greece: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
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Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
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You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory but we recommend protection against tetanus and polio. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.