Samaria Gorge is the only national park on the island of Crete. In this picturesque part of the Greek hills are the White Mountains, and the park occupies the western part of the island. The area of the gorge extends 16 km, starting from Omalos, located at 1250 m altitude, and gradually reaching the low lying village of Agia Roumeli.
If you visit the area in the spring, you will utmost enjoy the natural scenery in this part of Greece. The most convenient is to arrive by bus or car from the city Chania (Hania, Xania, Kania), as the station is on the Omalos plateau. The 16-kilometer park is ideal for hikers. Here you can go for at least four hours and more extensive trips can take up to eight hours. Most of the tourists leave here early in the morning, tour and descend through the gorge, to be able to return to the boat in Chania.
The gorge owes its name to placements in the middle of the gorge, where lies the beautiful Venetian village of Santa Maria, hence the very name of this natural area. This beautiful scenery is home to many endemic plants and rare animal species. The flora found here is mountain thyme and oregano. Here is one of the few habitats of the Cretan mountain goat, called cri- cri. Many birds can be seen, such as forest and Barn Owls, accipitrine, rocks and small eagles, bearded vultures, buzzards and peregrine falcons.
Samaria gorge is one of the most spectacular of the old continent and is considered one of the natural phenomena on Crete. The Omalos plateau is about 25 square kilometers, at the entrance of the gorge is located the cabin "Ksiloskalo". The first part of the way, thanks to the steep serpentine is less tiring. This is a steep downhill slope with a displacement of 1000 m. After it, one passes through the uneasy terrain of the so-called wooden staircase.
In the spring, the river rises significantly as the gorge closes, having to cross the river, especially in tight places. Therefore the spring when the river is dry, is most suitable for trekking. In the middle of the route is the desolate village Samaria. Shortly after Santa Maria, comes the bottleneck of the gorge - Iron Gate. Here, about 600 m high rock walls stand at a distance not more than three meters apart.