Achendrias gorge is located about 50km south of Heraklion, is approximately 8km long and ends on the beach Maridaki. It crosses the arid landscape of Asterousia Range that is characterized by bare mountains, sharp rocks and rough pasture lands. Throughout most of its length it is easily accessible, apart from the last part, which is only passable by experienced canyoners, as a 60m high waterfall is formed.
The course starts smoothly from the plain of Achendrias, from where it collects the water and passes originally from location Farangouli (small gorge), which is a relatively open ravine. Then it runs through position Plakoures, an impressive stony mass with squamous limestone and then reaches the sea through Lihnistis gorge. Just before reaching the sea it creates a waterfall of 60 meters, called Lihnistis, stopping our course abruptly. To overcome this canyoning equipment is required, otherwise you have to return back.
After the waterfall, a few meters before the sea, the landscape is transformed into a lush green river with a spring, towering plane trees and gurgling water. If you are lucky you might even see the fairies of the river who live here! Around this small paradise Maridaki settlemet was built.
If you do not want to walk along the gorge, you can alternatively admire it while you drive the rugged 15km long dirt road that starts from Mesohorio and ends at Maridaki or the monastery of Agios Nikitas. During the route, a large part of the road comes aside the gorge. The canyon hosts a large number of raptors and vultures. It is noteworthy to mention that the gorges of Asterousia are home to the largest population of these birds in Europe. Another feature is the goats “hanging” in the most inaccessible parts of the rocky cliffs.
The fall of Lihnistis
At the exit of the gorge there is the waterfall of Lichnistis (i.e. Winnower), which is actually a series of 5 waterfalls with the highest being 60 meters high and having water after heavy rainfalls. Below 2 waterfalls, ponds are formed that are perfect for a cold bath in spring. The waters of Lichnistis comes from a range of springs south of the village Ahendrias which flow in the gorge, which’s exit hosts Lichnistis. It is only 10 minutes walking from Maridaki settlement. It is one of the many waterfalls in Asterousia mounts and takes its name (winnover) from the way that the water spreads into the air like a fog cloud, looking like someone winnows the water in the air!