This programme is great for those who wish to visit Athens the home of the Olympic Games in 2004 and trek the longest natural gorge in Europe of 18 km.
Your holiday begins with a visit of the capital of Greece, Athens where you see the main sights of the city, complete with a guided tour of the Acropolis.
You then fly to Chania Airport, where your Cretan adventure commences. Crete is the largest and most mountainous of the Greek islands, it boasts an incredible variety of scenery, vegetation and an amazing history dating back to the 4,000 year old Minoan civilization. At the island’s western end rise the spectacular White Mountains, reaching almost 2,500m. The peaks tower above a coastline of sheer cliffs cut by deep ravines running down the sea. It is a lovely contrast of pretty fishing villages, characteristic the Venetian Port of Chania and the natural surroundings of the White Mountains of Crete. The tour alternates between coastal walks, magnificent gorges and peak ascents. Highlights along the way include the famous Samaria Gorge, the longest in Europe, and last refuge of the kri-kri mountain goats.
Day 1: Arrival in Athens
You will be met at the airport by your guide. There is one major transfer from the Athens Airport Eleftherios Venizelos to the hotel, which is conveniently located in the heart of Athens. Settle into the hotel. In the evening, meet your guide for a short walking tour of Athens and enjoy dinner in a traditional Greek taverna in Plaka, the old part of Athens, overlooking the Acropolis.
Day 2: Chania Crete
After breakfast, a half day sightseeing tour of Athens, Olympic Games host in 2004. Visit the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Panathinaikon Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 as well as the 2004 Olympic Games. Lunch in a taverna, then early in the afternoon, transfer to the airport for the flight Athens-Chania. On arrival in Chania, transfer to the hotel in the old part of the city. Dinner in the evening at a taverna close to the old picturesque Venetian harbour and tasting the delicious regional Cretan cuisine.
Day 3: Chania - Sougia (4-5 hours)
After breakfast, leave by private air-conditioned coach or taxi to Agia Irini, while luggage will continue to Sougia.. From St. Irini village a walk through the St. Irini Gorge to Sougia (the gorge is 7 km long and 4 km on road to Sougia, approximately 4.5 hours easy walk. This is a lesser-known gorge than Samaria, but rivals its neighbour for beauty and spectacle.
Day 4: Around Sougia (3-4 hours)
For those who are interested in Greek history, today’s walk will be a rewarding one with the visit to the ancient site of Lissos, a spa in Roman times with a mosaic floor highlight. Picnic in the deserted Bay of Lissos where there is the opportunity to swim in the crystal clear waters. Easy walk. Overnight in Sougia.
Day 5: Sougia – Omalos – Gingilos
By private air-conditioned coach arrive after an hour’s drive to Xiloskala. This is where the trekking starts to Gingilos. After an hour and a half moderate to strenuous walk, the first stop is at Linoselli spring, then continuing towards the top of the mountain (4 hours moderate walk). Spend the night in Omalos (Omalos means smooth), tasting the home made dishes and enjoying a quiet night.
Day 6: Samaria Gorge to Agia Roumeli
An early local car taking you to the entrance of the Samaria Gorge, Europe's longest and certainly one of its most spectacular. The descent begins on a good path in a shady pine forest, dropping steeply and crossing the river before reaching the deserted village of Samaria. Soon the path is on the riverbed itself before climbing away again at the point where the underground river re-emerges. Now the path crisscrosses the river before opening out to the village of Agia Roumeli and the sea. After a swim and/or drinks, settle into the rooms. Moderate walk of 17 kilometres of about 5-6 hours.
Day 7: Agia Roumeli to Loutro (5 hours)
An early start in the cool of the morning, walking on sand and shingle next to the sea to the picturesque chapel of St Pavlos (Paul), said to mark the place where Saint Paul landed on Crete. Next to the chapel is a freshwater spring coming out of the pebble beach, a short stop for swimming. After about 5 hours moderate walk the silhouette of the blue and white washed houses of Loutro village appear. Overnight in a beach hotel overlooking the Libyan Sea.
Day 8: Loutro
A walk to Anopolis village to see the most authentic of the village communities in full swing - men wearing the local costume and headdress, will visit St. Catherine’s chapel, enjoy the beautiful view of Loutro area and the blue of the Libyan Sea then descending the same path to Loutro. (about 5 hours).
Day 9: Loutro to Chora Sfakion and return to Chania
Following the coastal path to Chora Sfakion, stopping for a swim at Freshwater Beach. This 2-hour stretch has a fine path building on a steep rock face overlooking the deep blue sea. From Chora Sfakion the private air-conditioned coach will return you to Chania. An alternative route is to take the boat from Loutro to Sfakia (about 15-20 minutes ride) and then from Sfakia take the coach to Chania Airport for the flight back to Athens.