Crete Mountains

Kouroupa

The mountainous area of the White Mountains extends to the east of Sfakia, south of the prefecture of Rethymnon, creating a small mountain range parallel to the coastal zone of the prefecture, including the main peaks of Kryoneritis and Kouroupa.

Mount Kouroupa is the geological continuation of the White Mountains with the highest peak reaching 1,001m. (984m according to the Army Geographical Service). Other peaks are Korakias at 736m that was a Minoan place of worship since ancient times and Kyrimanou at 805m. that was a settlement of the ancient Cretans between the 12th and the 8th century BC. To the southeast of the mountain is the Kourtaliotis Gorge and to the west the Kotsifos Gorge. At the top of Kouroupa there is a telecommunication antenna and the church of the Holy Spirit, which was built in place of the old homonymous temple, which is located next to the new one and is half-destroyed. The top is accessible on foot or with a 4WD car from two dirt roads. One starts at the village of Atsipades and the other from the village of Koxare, both on the northeastern side of the mountain. On the south side are the villages Asomatos, Mariou and Myrthios, while the north part hosts the settlement Kanevos. The mountain is difficult to hike as its terrain consists of pointing and sharp rocks and steep ravines that make it quite dangerous. Also in the mountain in the winter, unexpected fog and high rainfall often prevail, while the humidity is increased throughout the year. From the top of the mountain the visitor has a view of the Libyan Sea, the east part of Sfakia, southern Rethymnon and villages of Western Rethymnon.

This area on the southern coast of Rethymno prefecture is very important for the preservation of the bearded vulture, as one of the only last four breeding couples of Crete and the Balkans is reproduced here (2017). There also other priority species such as Gyps fulvus (15 breeding couples), golden eagle (one couple) and Bonelli's eagle (one couple). The importance of the area for predators is also explained by its geographical position since Kouroupa is a connecting link between the mountains of the White Mountains and those of Central and South-East Crete (Psiloritis and Kedros)..

Kourtaliotis Gorge

The Gorge of Kourtaliotis is located 22km south of Rethymno and has a length of 3km. It is one of the most spectacular natural attractions of Rethymnon. It starts from the village Koxare and flows between the mountains Kouroupis (984 m) and Xiro Oros (Dry Mountain - 904m). The huge cliffs of the canyon reach a height of 600 meters and are full of openings and caves, where significant fauna species live.

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Kotsyfos Gorge and Boutsinas Fall

The gorge of Kotsyfos starts at Kannevos village and ends at Plakias. The starting point is very narrow with a width of about 10m, which gradually increases and reaches 600m. The total length is 1800m, and the almost vertical sides that reach a height of 600m. Inside the gorge there is a small temple built inside a rocky cavity dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

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Korakias peak sanctuary

Above the village Atsipades of the province St Basil, Rethymno we meet a range of small peaks with the higher being that of Kouroupa. The mountain range of Kouroupa stretches from west to the east separating the villages of the valley of St Basil by the seaside settlements, while defining a different climate. The boundaries of Kouroupa are sharp and are bounded by two long and majestic canyons, Kourtaliotis and Kotsifos. Beyond the peak of Kouroupa there are more smaller peaks, still very beautiful.

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Kyrimianou

High above the village of Mirthios at Province Agios Vasilies rises the peak Kyrimianos at an altitude of 805 meters. It is an extremely rough and steep place, without trees except for some ancient cypress trees that have been left there to remind us that the mountain range that covers the valley of Agios Vasilios (Kouroupa) is the geological continuity of the White Mountains.

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