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.
Astrakiano and Kounaviano canyons are two lush green gorges by Heraklion that merge near the village Skalani and carry on their united course till Karteros. The total length of the two canyons is about 21 km.
Kallikratis is a relatively small gorge in the southeast region of Lefka Ori (White Mountains) in Chania Prefecture. The gorge connects the mountainous pasture lands with the lowland villages. It is a very pleasant walk, offering great views and rare flowers, but is not very popular to tourists. The Kallikratis’ Gorge together with the Asfendou Gorge can be a full day’s excursion.
Through the gorge passes Havgas river that carries water from the plateau of Katharo to Lassithi. Then the water reaches Chonos (the hole from which waters of the Lassithi Plateau escape the plateau), comes out from Fleves and reaches Aposelemis dam. The river has water for several months a year. Thus, make sure you get properly informed about the weather because the canyon carries a lot of water during periods of rainfall.
Sirikari is located 55km west of Chania and 17km south of Kissamos, in a lush green area with canyons and water streams. The road to Sirikari is paved and runs through the dense vegetation, indicating the beauty of the area at the very first moment. From here begins the beautiful canyon of Sirikari leading to the settlement of Polirinia, where the ancient town of Polirinia was built.
Nearby the lush green and full of water springs Orino village we meet one of the most steep rivers of Crete. Its springs are located high on the plateau Abelia on the slopes of Thripti and Papouri mounts. They shortly form a river which crosses the village square and enters the rugged canyon of Orino.
The wild and imposing gorge of Kapsas is located 8-9km east of Makrigialos and 33km east of Ierapetra. The gorge is also called Pervolakia, because its northern entrance is near the secluded and picturesque village of Pervolakia. When in the village, you should walk in the nearby traditional village of Pezoulas, with the amazing houses.
The gorge of Rocca, Roka, Rocka or Rokka is located 32km west of Chania, in the area of Kolymbari. The 2km gorge starts from the village Deliana and ends at the village of Roka. In the settlement there is Trouli hill, where you can still see the ruins of a Byzantine fortress.
Portela Gorge is located at the south of the prefecture of Iraklion; the canyon starts from Hondros village and its exit is in Keratokambos. It is one of the most dangerous canyons in Greece.