The canyons Astrakiano and Kounaviano are two lush green gorges that merge near the village Skalani and empty on the beach of Karteros. The total length of both canyons combined is about 21 km. The gorges are located east of Heraklion city and belong to the wider area of Mount Jiouktas. They all are very easy for walking, ideal for children and families. The longest canyon, Astrakiano, starts at the position Paliarda at Kolomodi and reaches the area below the deserted village of Kato Astraki after crossing the scenic bridge of Astrakiani Kamara. From Kato Astraki starts a short trail that leads to the site of Neraidospilios with the beautiful pond and the caves through which water gushes.
From here actually starts the path in the river of Karteros along a lush green path, well structured with wooden bridges and railings. After passing the bridge of Aitania at Kaki Rachi we arrive at the area Kali Rachi, where Astrakiano merges with the Kounaviano Gorge that starts from Peza. From Kali Rachi the river continues its way to Karteros through well organized path. This part, known as Karteros Gorge, runs next to old water mills and the very old church of Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos). Neat the exit of the gorge Karteros, at position Mesa Karteros, there is an old inn and second old chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas. This place is an ideal resting place for picnics and can be accessed with car from Karteros.
The canyon Astrakiano (Astraki - Kali Rachi) is approximately 7km long and hiking takes 3-4 hours. The part of Kounaviano Gorge (Peza- Kali Rachi) is approximately 4km long and trekking takes about 2 hours. The common part of the gorge Karteros (till the second chapel of Saint Nicholas (Kali Rachi – Mesa Karteros) is approximately 6km. The route in the canyons is rich in natural, morphological, aesthetic, historical and cultural features. It is a landscape of outstanding natural beauty, with springs, ponds, rivers, small waterfalls and lush vegetation. Before the Second World War in the canyon operated 10 watermills, while the locals were fishing eels and crabs, some still exist.