For millions of years, the geological upheavals are reflected strongly in the intense relief of the island. 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 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.
The canyon Kakoperatos is located by Agios Vasilios village at the province of Agios Vasilios. It’s a tributary of the Megalos River (Kourtaliotis) and as its name suggests (bad passage in Greek) it cannot be accessed from humans (by trekking).
Fratiano Gorge is one of the long canyons of Rethymno Prefecture, running alongside Kourtaliotiko Gorge and crossing Xiro Oros Mount. Its entrance is located 23km southeast of Rethymnon, next to the village Frati, and it mouth is located near the exit of the gorge Kourtaliotiko.
Mesonas gorge is located on the northern slopes of the mountains of Thripti, near villages Kavoussi and Avgos. It is a short imposing gorge (4km long), that needs technical equipment for crossing it along its bed. The canyon connects the Plateau of Thripti to the plain of Kavoussi.
The Gorge Selinari is located about 45km east of Heraklion and 21km west of Agios Nikolaos, on the eastern slopes of Selena Mount. It is well known to all Cretans, because the National Road from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos runs along the gorge.
The canyon of Asfendou is one of the many gorges in Sfakia province, starting from deserted hamlet of Asfendou that currently houses some local sheep herders. Along the canyon runs a passable but steep trail, parallel to the streambed. In many places the Libyan sea is visible.
The Gorge of Swallows is located 33km south of town of Rethymno city, next to the famous beach of Preveli with the majestic palm grove and the stunning river. It starts close to the village Drymiskos, runs almost parallel to the canyon of Kourtaliotiko (that of Preveli) and ends at the beach of Drymiskiano Ammoudi. It’s name is taken after the the swallows that arrive in the area every summer.
At a forgotten area of the region Selino in South Chania, you will meet the well hidden gorge of Pelekaniotis River. It is the river with the most water flow in Selino and it is so important that the whole municipality of Paleochora is named Pelekanos. It has water all year round and forms a lush green valley at its exit, at Maherota location.