Travel tips you can trust
The Samaria Gorge on the Greek Island of Crete offers an unforgettable day hike through a steep-sided stream bed in a stunning mountainous environment.
You walk 16 kilometers (11 miles) while descending 1250 meters (4100 feet). The hike ends on a seashore on the other side of this island. There's nothing but water separating you from Africa.
The highlight of the hike is passing through the Portes (see photo). The opening of the "Iron Gates" (as it is popularly called in English) narrows to about 3.5 meters (12 feet). The steep sides reach higher than a 50-story building. For scale, notice the red-outfitted person in the photo.
When to come
The trail is open only during the normally rainless season, from late April through October. Heavy rains make passage hazardous if not impossible. The trickling stream becomes a torrent and cliff rocks fall.
How to avoid
a hoard of people
Samaria Gorge is popular. Some days several thousand tourists come. Because numerous chatting people diminish the serenity of this natural wonder, do what I did. I was at the trail gate at dawn when it opened. This meant that I could take my time but would always be far ahead of the first tour-bus group.
Location in Greece