Canyoning in Crete

Ambas
Gorge

Heraklion

Ambas Gorge
(6 votes)

The gorge of Ambas is located 53km south of Heraklion, in Asterousia Mountains. The Mousoulis stream, which flows in winter, collects water from the springs of the Paranymfi and Amygdalos plateau (approximately 700m altitude) and transports it to the beach of Tris Ekklisies. The smooth course of the stream on the fertile plateau is interrupted very abruptly when it encounters the rocky fault of Asterousia, forming the imposing waterfall of Ambas. The waterfall has a total height of 145m and is one of the highest waterfalls in Greece in free fall, after the waterfall of Mastoras in the gorge of Ha (215m) and the waterfall of Perdika in Samaria Gorge (240m).

Just above the waterfall there is a road, where a sign leads us after the village Paranymfi, on the way to Tris Ekklisies. At the parking lot there is a ruined watermill and from there starts a very short path along the cliff that leads to a place with a tremendous view of both the waterfall and the sea. Although it seems inconceivable for someone to go down to the base of the waterfall without technical equipment, according to residents' testimonies, there was an old path that reached the place. In fact, it is said that the name Ambas is derived from "abbas" (priest), as a monk once found shelter at the base of the great waterfall.

Inside the gorge formed after the big waterfall and ending on the beach, there are other smaller waterfalls. The gorge has been bolted by the speleological associations of Crete and one small group of very experienced canyoners can descend in about 7 hours. There are a total of 21 rappels, the highest of which is 45m high (the large waterfall has 4 changes in the air). The cliffs of the wider area host the largest island population of birds of prey in all of Europe and the descent during the breeding season should be avoided. (i.e. during the winter months).

On September 2, 2018, in the big waterfall of Ambas, the very experienced canyoner Kallia Miliara died tragically after accidental falling. In memory of the Cretan athlete, a small shrine has been set up next to the watermill, near the entrance of the gorge.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Canyoneering equipment needed
  • Water: Water till spring
  • Length (km): 4
  • Altitude difference (m): 280
  • Difficulty (0-10): 9
  • Hiking Hours: 6
  • Accessibility: Walking
  • Maximum Rapel Height (m): 50

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