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 gorge of Ambas is located 53km south of Heraklion, in Asterousia Mountains. Starting from the small plateau formed near the village Paranymfi (710m altitude), it ends at the beach of Treis Ekklisies. This is a large (4km long) and beautiful canyon with many narrow passages, which is accessible only by experienced canyoners.
On the way to Elafonisi from the road running along the west coast of Crete, there is the beautiful village of Cambos belonging to Kissamos province. From there a short dirt road heads to the west which heads to the lush canyon of Kambos, the westernmost gorge of Crete.
Margarites is a village, well known for its marvelous architecture and the traditional pottery. However, in the wider area of the villages of Margarites, Orthe and Eleftherna appear a series of small, parallel gorges. Small streams such as Margaritianos flow towards the north and are tributaries of the Geropotamos River. The gorges are developed in white-yellow marly limestone of the Upper Miocene period (8-10 million years ago) as a result of the uplift of the whole area and the erosion by water.
The gorge of Eligia is wild, long and impressive. The trail to reach the gorge's bed starts in Agios Ioannis village in Sfakia (780m altitude, 92km from Chania). After hiking for 3.5 hours in the gorge ou reach Agios Pavlos beach, which is full of pine trees, and then you need 1 more hour to the west to reach Agia Roumeli.
The Gorge of Chochlakies or Karoumes is located in one of the most isolated areas of the island, near Kato Zakros. Easy hiking in the snakelike canyon with the sparse vegetation and the bare rocks, ends in the amazing beach of Karoumes, where being totally alone is the rule.
Through the gorge of Lissos passes the trail that connects Sougia to Ancient Lissos. It's a long canyon with imposing towering walls, but the path that leads to ancient Lissos covers only a small part of the route, taking only about 1 hour.
Gorge Smiliano or Kalamafka is located north of the village Ano Meros, about 100km southwest of Heraklion city. Through the gorge runs the Lygiotis river which is supplied by the valleys of Gerakari and the slopes of Samitos Mount. The canyon has a lot of water in winter and crossing it, by any means, is very tough.
Kollita Gorges, i.e. Twin Ravines are located nearby the picturesque village Argyroupolis, about 22km southwest of Rethymnon city. They are named so, as they consist of two parallel canyons that end near Kato Poros settlement and is part of the E4 trail. The first canyon on the east is called Moudriano Gorge, while the west gorge is Kato Poros Gorge of Vilandredo Gorge, mostly known as the main Kollita Gorge.