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.
West of the village Ano Asites the river that initially is the gorge of Saint Haralabos and then crosses the village soon turns into a deep and spectacular gorge, the gorge of St. Anthony.
The canyon of Zoniana is located south of Zoniana village. Starting at an altitude of 950m, it ends at the village at an altitude of 650m. Through the gorge runs the "serpentine" Oaxis river that has water till spring. The gorge is easily accessible and safe for hiking, as its slope is small.
The lush canyon of Boriana (mainly known as Karanou Gorge) starts from the village Boriana and joins the River Mavropiliotis after 1800 meters in a nicely landscaped trail. Along the trail we meet a ruined watermill, caves, entrances of the old iron ore quarries (known locally as quarries of Averof), a charcoal furnace and galleries.
The unknown canyon of Venerato is located 17km south of Heraklion, just next to the village Venerato and Paliani Monastery. The deep part of the gorge is very short in length (about 500m), but its beauty does not leave the visitor unaffected, although it is badly infected by human activities.
The proposed trekking route in the canyon starts from Niato plateau (near Askifou Plateau) and runs along the European trail E4. You initially meet the abandoned village of Kali Lakki. From here starts the canyon, which is one of the greenest gorges in Crete, with incredibly interesting flora. Oaks, cypresses and pines are the main trees in Sfakiano Gorge.
1.5km east of Spili, next to the main road connecting Spili to Agia Galini, you will meet the chapel of Agia Fotini, also known as Agia Fotia. Next to the road, you will find the springs of Agia Fotia, an old mill and a quite high waterfall (in winter).
The Gorge of Havgas is located very close to the village Kalamafka, just 12km north of the city of Ierapetra. Note that there are several other gorges with the same name around Crete, such as the Havgas Gorge in Lassithi Plateau.
Throughout its short length its hides two key surprises. First, it hosts a small colony of Cretan date palm trees (Theophrastus palm trees), while at the end of it, by the sea, some ponds with fresh water are formed. Especially these springs are an unexpected view in the hot and dry East Crete.