On a cloudy May morning – which is ideal walking weather for Crete – our transport dropped me and my fellow walkers, who had all booked onto the Pure Crete Spring walking holiday, at the start of the Imbros Gorge on the Askyfou Plateau; a rich, green, fertile plain situated inland, 57km south of Chania.
The Imbros Gorge is considered to be one of the most beautiful, popular gorges on the island and spans a huge 8km from the village of Imbros down to the southern coastal village of Komitades.
As it is largely shaded in parts, the gorge felt quite cool. We were even advised by our walking guide to wear warm clothing to protect ourselves from the cool air. The second piece of advice our guide gave was “don’t forget to look up!” – an excellent piece of advice, since this downhill gorge often meant that eyes were focused downwards on our footing rather than taking in the wonderful views that we were about to encounter.
I’m glad we took this advice as we were well rewarded with some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of Crete, with some of the stone walls towering up to 300 metres in places. The vegetation was dense with an array of different trees and flowers, including oak, almond and fig trees – even the odd wild orchid endemic to Crete. The aroma of wild herbs was immense, giving us a truly wild experience; we were even met by the odd goat and donkey on the way!
Our friendly group of walkers took roughly 2 and half hours to finish the gorge. One of the landmarks which we got to witness was the narrowest point of the gorge which was just arm’s length (2 meters) wide whilst a towering arch appeared near the end of the walk.
On the completion of our incredible hike, we were able to sit down and take a well earned rest – not only with cold refreshments at one of the tavernas at the end of the gorge, but with the stunning views looking out across the Libyan sea, too!
Lunch afterwards was eaten at a handpicked traditional taverna back on the plateau. Delicious local seasonal food awaited us to try, including a variety of mountain greens, stuffed courgettes and rabbit stifado which were all very tasty and a must try if you are in the area.
The camaraderie of the walkers, combined with our excellent knowledgeable guide, stunning scenery and amazing food all made for a wonderful time on the Pure Crete Walking Week.