Caving in Crete



Sarchos Cave
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Cave Sarhos, Honos or Nychteridospilios is located west of the village Sarhos, at an altitude of 276m. It is one of the largest and most important caves of Crete, which is particularly loved by cavers because of its complexity and large length. The total paths in the cave exceed the length of 1500m, while the depth of the cavern reaches 230m. The entrance is 4.5m wide and 3m high. One characteristic of the cave is the alternating rooms and spacious corridors/galleries. The cave, in all its routes, has a downhill slope. Honos is a part of the ancient underground torrent that brought the water from Mount Ida to the north coast. The decoration of the cave is limited, old and disintegrated. Prevalent decor items are stalagmites, stalactites and some corallines. The cave is home to three major species of bats in Crete. Thus, this is why locals call the cave Nychteridospilios, which means “cave of the bats”.

The cave is divided into two sections. The first section starts from the entrance and extends 780m in length and 130m in depth. It is the active part of the cave, which receives inputs of water in extremely rare cases. The second section starts from the end of the previous part and extends along the cave until the depth of 228m. This is the seasonally active network, where there is a strong flow of water in rainy seasons, making it extremely dangerous. It is no coincidence that in November 2003, the cave became known nationwide for a very difficult mission to rescue 3 cavers, who were trapped in the cave after rainfall. The rescue operation lasted 4 days and was very tough.

The cave is also called Honos (i.e. cave that swallows), and actually it is a sink that drains water flowing through the gaps found in "Krousonas Livadi " and "Vromonero” plateaus. During heavy rains, large amounts of water enter the cave through the lower levels. Honos was studied in 1975, flowing 23 cubic meters of water from its entrance. It is one of the major suppliers of Almyros spring, which is located 13.5 km northern.

The cave has always been used by the residents of the region, either shepherds or for seeking protection. It has great historical importance, since during the revolts against the Turks, people used it as a refuge (1746-1896). Especially in the revolution of 1866-69, women from the village took refuge in Chonos to protect themselves from Turks. The failure of the Turks to burn the cave with the women, forced them to sign a protocol with the head of the guards of the cave, Philippakis. This had a favorable impact on the Cretan struggle against Turkish occupation.

In 2015 a very rare phenomeno took place in Sarhos. The very strong rain- and snowfalls of this year made the cave flood from its entrance. This phenomenon was last seen in 70s.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Sinkhole
  • Water: Water all year round
  • Length (m): 1500
  • Accessibility: Paved road


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