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 deepest gorge in Chania is the gorge of Aradaina. The 138 meter deep gorge is ideal not only for sightseeing or hiking but for bunjee jumping as well. The trekking inside the canyon till the exit on the majestic Marmara beach is an unforgettable experience for those who attempt the descent of the canyon.
The gorge of Topolia is located at West Crete and it runs along the road leading to Elafonissi. The canyon actually starts near the village Strovles at an altitude of 450m, and exits near the village Topolia, at an altitude of 150m.
The Gorge of Mylonas or Saint John is located 18km east of Ierapetra. It starts near the village of St. John, at an altitude of 500m, and ends at the beach of Kakia Skala. Descending the gorge from Saint John is impossible, as it is stopped by a high waterfall, and canyoning equipment is necessary.
One of the nicest gorges of Crete is that of Vrissi on the north side of the White Mountains, crossed by the river Vrissiotis which gathers water from Melidaou area and waters Zourva and Lakki. In the gorge there is the cave - underground river with water springs, while many waterfalls of exquisite beauty are met in several places. The trail to the spring of the cave starts from Lakki and ascends along the walls of the gorge. From the spring starts another downhill trail to Zourva.
The canyon Aposelemis exits at the settlement Agrianá (or Adrianna as its inhabitants call it). It is the longest and most important geological canyon in the northern part of the prefecture of Heraklion.
Kritsa Gorge starts near the picturesque village of Kritsa, 9.5km southwest of Agios Nikolaos and ends at the village Tapes. It’s 4km long, reaching a width of only 1.5m in some places. It is easily accessible with a few points that need attention, where you have to climb over some big rocks (not too hard). The only time you should not visit the gorge, is when it has rained previously and there are ponds in the gorge, which block the passages.
16km west of the Ierapetra is the traditional village of Mythi. In a short distance from the village, the small Sarakina Gorge starts, which ends near the Mirtos. The length of the canyon reaches 1.5km and its width ranges from 3 to 10 meters, with only a few points exceeding that.
Near village Meskla at the root of the White Mountains, we meet the small, but really impressive, gorge of Sarakina (don't confuse it with the other popular gorge named Sarakina in East Crete, by Mythi at Province Ierapetra). The name Sarakina comes from the faith of the locals that Saracenes used to hide in there.