In the White Mountains

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Arádena - Wild and Breathtaking  

As a nature experience, the Arádena Gorge is one of the most impressive hikes in the Sfakiá. After crossing the bridge, which was built in 1986, our path begins in the leaving village of Arádena, whose ruins tell the stories of bygone times while giving a genuine impression of the traditional architecture of the region. A worth seeing Kreuzkuppelkirche is one of the few surviving buildings there, while here and there some of the old buildings have been restored in recent years. We walk through the village and go to the back of the village on the well-paved Kalderimi (until 1986 (!) The only connection Arádenas to the neighbouring villages), which leads us down into the gorge. Our path leads under the bridge in the stream bed, which spans 138 meters between the canyon walls. The path in the creek bed leads gently downhill. In the further course, it is the slope of the gorge on some larger boulders overcome partly with the help of the hands and a little climbing.

In the middle part of the ravine, a kalderimi created some years ago passes the right edge of the canyon. We follow this to safely bypass some large boulders. The path requires sure-footedness and a head for heights and allows a wonderful view of the gorge. This widens immediately after the path has led us back into the creek bed. At high altitude, we sometimes see griffon vultures running their tracks, and a silence spreads in the distance.

A little later, the surroundings change, and we are in a part of the gorge that is densely overgrown with oleander and chaste tree. The path alternates between path and a few more claptrapes over boulders down the ravine, before the gorge finally widens and opens to the sea. We arrive in the bay of Mármara, which expects us with crystal clear water, marble rocks, small bays and caves. There we have the opportunity to dive into the crystalline water, to rest or to stop in the small tavern above the beach. By taxi boat we will later return along the coast back to Chora Sfakion.

Physical condition:    sure-footedness, fear of heights, endurance

Difficulty:                    ↕️ 760 m; 15.4 km; difficult

Duration:                    3.30 h

“Moon Landing“ Páchnes 

The Páchnes is the second highest mountain (2.453m) of Crete. The journey takes place with four-wheel pickups on a forest and shepherd's piste. We leave the mountain village Anopolis and say goodbye to civilisation for a few hours. The route on the edge of Lefká Ori, the mightiest massif of Crete, takes us about 90 minutes across the White Mountains. It ends about 2km before the pass Roussiés (2.050m). From there we climb the approx. 5km to the summit. At the top there is an overwhelming panoramic view of the mountains and the countryside around. Far over in the east greets the most snowy peak of Psilorítis 80km away. In good weather we may even see the peak of Profitis Ilias in Taygetos in the Peloponnese. After a short rest we start the way back. It may be a bit hard for us to get up and return; not because the road is particularly difficult, but because we suspect that in our swift life a precious moment of pause has just passed.

The central part of the Lefká Ori forms an edaphic high desert with almost continuous heights of over 2000 m. Although precipitation falls precipitously especially during the cold season, with the snowmelt all water immediately seeps into the soil, so that the vegetation usually found at this altitude can not thrive (as for example in the equally high neighbouring Ida Mountains). The crystalline limestone of this area is extremely susceptible to erosion. The central summit region of Lefká Ori is one of the few European desert areas. Since this hike is extremely weather-dependent and may not be passable after heavy snowfall in winter in May, we may alternatively climb one of the many other peaks.

Physical condition:    sure-footedness, endurance

Difficulty:                    ↕️ 403 m; 10 km; medium

Duration:                    3.30 h

Mountain Worlds of Sfakiá 

Ágios Ioánnis is a mountain village in the Lefká Óri at an altitude of 775 m. A paved by reading stone walls path leads us from there in about 1 hour through a sparse forest of cypress and Calabrian pine to Seloúda, a demolition edge at 540 m. A fantastic view of the coastal landscape of the south coast opens up - deep below us the Libyan Sea and in the distance to the west Agia Rouméli. After a contemplative rest and a respite on the subject of "lightness and freedom" we return the same way on the karstified plateau to Ágios Ioánnis back.

Anópoli is an elongated settlement on the plain high above Chóra Sfakíon with a fantastic view of the Lefká Óri. At the village square stands the monument of the famous resistance fighter Daskalogiannis. Here we will enjoy traditional dishes in the tavern. Finally, a footpath leads us through the village to the high-exposed Agia Ekateríni church, giving us a magnificent view of the entire region.

Physical condition:    sure-footedness

Difficulty:                    ↕️ 215 m; 4.4 km (total); medium

Duration:                    2 h

The Life of a Shepherd in the White Mountains 

The Sfakia is a region of extremes. The White Mountains are the wildest and most inaccessible mountains in Crete. 57 peaks tower over 2000 meters, the highest peak Pachnes brings it to 2453 meters. In the high valleys extend the pasture areas (Madáres) on which the shepherds have grazed their flocks of sheep in the summer since time immemorial. In the summit regions above the Madáres extends the only high mountainous desert in Europe.

The production of traditional cheese typical for the region, such as the graviera, takes place up here.

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