For millions of years, the geological upheavals are reflected strongly in the intense relief of Crete. While mountains rose, the river water continued its corrosional route through the limestone terrain, forming today's "land of gorges", Crete. With more than 400 canyons, Crete hosts the largest number of gorges in Greece. Many travel agencies offer packages for gorge trekking and there is are several hiking and mountaineering clubs based in Heraklion, Chania, Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Ierapetra and Mires.
Cretan rivers meet large faults and steep descents during their course through the canyons, forming hundreds of small and high waterfalls. Crossing gorges of Crete with high waterfalls is possible only by using technical equipment. Appropriate training in canyoneering techniques can be offered by specialist companies on the island. The most popular technical canyons of Crete include the imposing gorge Ha, Tsoutsouras, Kalami, the gorge of Arvi (which after an 80m high fall turns into a dark underground river) and many more.
The wild Prassano gorge is located 10 km southeast of Rethymnon. Starting south of Prasses village, it offers a three-hour walk through the stunning gigantic rocks and through some relatively hard accesses, which make the passage very interesting. The Prassano gorge is located next to the bare hills of Gargana. It ends in Platanias, east of the town of Rethymno.
The Gorge of Pefki (Pefki means Pines) is one of the most beautiful small gorges of Crete, with amazing rock formations shaped by the natural forces and with lush vegetation. The length of the gorge is 4.5 km and the elevation difference of the entering point and the exit reaches 300 meters.The gorge starts south of the village Pefki and ends in Aspros Potamos dorp, 2km north of Makrigialos.
The gorge of Trypiti is formed at the range Asterousia, to the south of the village Vassiliki. The length of the canyon reaches 4 km and a beautiful pebble beach is formed at its exit. The beach is reached though a dirt road that runs high along the eastern side of the canyon for several kilometers before reaching its riverbed, just before the exit to the sea.
The gorge Almyros is located in Linoperamata, close to Heraklion, between Keri and Kastrokefala. Almiros Gorge is the nearest gorge to Heraklion, a natural oasis close to the bustling city, formed between the hills of Keri and Kastrokefala.
Deliana – Mesavlia Gorge is located 37km west of Chania. Starting from the village Mesavlia it descends to the village Deliana after 5km. Walking in the gorge is very easy (takes about one hour) and is suggested even for children, as it runs along a dirt road.
The Gorge Kydoni is a small lush green paradise near the village Karanou, which has been adorned with a beautiful trail and information signage. The trail starts from the fountain of the village and is very easy to walk and appropriate for children.
Avlaki gorge is located near the monastery Gouverneto, 16km east of Chania city. It is one of the most important gorges in Crete with a particular religious value, as many monks and hermits found shelter in its caves. Inside the small canyon there is the deserted Katholiko monastery, perhaps the oldest monastery in Crete. Thus, the gorge is also called Katholiko Gorge.
The gorge of Kotsyfos starts at Kannevos village and ends at Plakias. The starting point is very narrow with a width of about 10m, which gradually increases and reaches 600m. The total length is 1800m, and the almost vertical sides that reach a height of 600m. Inside the gorge there is a small temple built inside a rocky cavity dedicated to Saint Nicholas.