Aspros potamos
Espa 2014-2020

Aspros potamos

Pefki Gorge

Pefki Gorge is a small gorge in southeast Crete, it runs down from Pefki village to Makry Gialos and it is 7 kilometres long.

If you take a walk through Pefki village and Pefki Gorge, you will see that, apart from pine trees (pefka in Greek), the earth is blanketed in kermes oak, lentisc, olive and carob trees, while the villagers’ greenhouses are luckily located further south, in the plain of Makry Gialos and Goudouras.

Starting from Pefki, you pass through the olive groves to Ilias’s Watermill, one of the oldest watermills still standing, which functioned until the early 1920s. Right after the watermill is the entrance to Pefki Gorge, whose walls reach a maximum height of 120 metres.

The walk down the gorge is along a pretty and picturesque route through the pine wood. You will also see plane trees and other common Cretan vegetation, such as thyme and sage bushes. On the south side of the gorge is a spring of fresh drinking water, so it’s a good idea to fill a bottle with cold mountain water to take with you.

There have been a few minor human interventions in the gorge, so don’t be surprised to see a wide footpath and stone benches at some points. Luckily these features have not spoilt the scenery and character of the gorge, as they have been realised as part of the European Leader Programme.

On leaving Pefki Gorge you come to Pisokamino, and 500 m further down is the village Aspros Potamos, where there is a huge rock, the “Volakas tou Sarakinou” (“Saracen’s Rock”). Legend has it that a Saracen pirate left behind in a raid hid there to escape the Cretans hunting him.

On the rock you will notice small, egg-sized pebbles. This has given rise to various stories and theories. The commonest tale is that, during the wars, the locals suffered much hunger and hardship. So the children played a game: every time they passed the rock, they would toss a pebble onto it.

If the pebble rolled off the rock, there probably wouldn’t be any food at home. If it stayed on the rock, there would be warm, nourishing food waiting for them. This is supposedly how the pebbles got on the Volakas.

A short distance from the Saracen’s Rock is the village of Aspros Potamos, where the tarmac road either leads back to Pefki village or continues on to Makrys Gialos.


Pervolakion Gorge

Pervolakia Gorge is in southeast Crete.

The gorge starts right next to Kapsa Monastery, 7 kilometres from Makry Gialos, and ends at Pervolakia village, from which it takes its name.

You can leave the car at Kapsa Monastery and either visit the small pebble beach or enter the gorge, which is the rockiest in the area but also the most impressive.

Pervolakia Gorge is usually traversed by challenge-seekers, as it’s not very easy to walk. Some sections are relatively inaccessible and you may need to do some climbing.

The average time it takes to walk through the gorge is 2 hours.

You will then reach the village of Kato Pervolakia, where you can call a taxi if you have left your car at Kapsa Monastery.

So make sure you’ve got the phone number of a taxi driver from Makry Gialos, or hitch a lift from someone leaving the village.


Koutsouras Gorge

Koutsouras gorge is near Makry Gialos in southeast Crete.

The gorge links the villages of Koutsouras and Oreino, and you may hear it referred to as “Butterfly Gorge”.

The entrance to the gorge is on the Koutsouras side, in the Community Park. From there it is 3-4 hours’ walk to Oreino village.

In spite of its name, you won’t see many butterflies inside the gorge, as in recent years they have only appeared in the spring.

This is probably due to the huge wildfire that broke out in 1993 and devastated much of the local woodland. Ever since, locals note, the balance of the area has been disturbed and the butterflies are gradually disappearing, especially in the last few years.

Despite the fire damage, however, Koutsouras Park is a lovely place with dense vegetation and rich plant and animal life.

There are marks blazing the trail through the gorge, but be careful as you might get confused.

At the end of the track through the gorge, as you approach Oreino village, there are small springs and beautiful waterfalls (in the winter months).

On reaching Oreino, you can sit down for a refreshing drink of fruit juice at the kafeneion in the village square. Oreino is quite high up, so it’s cooler here than seaside Koutsouras - just the thing on a hot summer day!

Lamnomiu Gorge

Lamnomiu gorge takes its name from the village of Lamnoniou and ends at the beautiful beaches of Kserokambos. The walker will notice the strange stone shapes formed by the constant wind battering the sides of this barren gorge. It will take you about 5 hours to walk.

Kato Zakros Gorge

Kato Zakros gorge is also known as "The Gorge of the Dead" because the Minoans used to bury their dead here in small crevasses high up in the walls of the gorge. It forms part of the E4 walking trail and you can easily walk through it in about an hour.

Chochlakies  Gorge

The trekking route starting at Choclakies will take you about two hours to go and another two to return. The gorge follows a turn to the left, along sheer cliffs. You are mostly moving on the river bank (it is inaccessible in winter), and in spring you should be prepared to climb some rocks, to overcome the water ponds on the way. At the end of the route you will be rewarded with the view of Karoumes beach, solitary and beautiful, with trees that offer their shade freely for you to rest.
You can also make a start from the village of Agahtias and the route is the following: Palaikastro – Agathias – Platyvola Plateau – Skinias beach – Karoumes beach – Karoumes gorge – Choclakies – Palaikastro. You will need about four hours to complete this second route.


Havgas Gorge (Kalamafka)

Havgas gorge is located very close to the village Kalamafka, just 12km north of the city of Ierpapetra. Note that there are several other gorges with the same name around Crete, such as the Havgas Gorge in Lassithi Plateau.

The canyon is very beautiful and has distinctive rock formations, which have been shaped by rare geological phenomena. In many places the rocks host "artistic" creations of nature, carved over time by wind and water. It is relatively short in length and walking along the riverbed is very easy, even for beginners.

The altitude of the area is approximately 500m, ideal for the development of a beautiful pine forest. Unfortunately, the canyon and the surrounding area have been burned several times by fire, thus the the size of the pine forest has shrunk. However, it is worth visiting the area and it is sure that you will be impressed by the small-sizes pine trees springing up among the rocks, resembling bonsais.

The depth of the gorge reaches 300 m. At one point, two slit rocks form the entrance of some consecutive caves, which was used as a hiding place during the German Occupation by the Cretan rebels and the Allies.

The region is called by locals "Chinese Landscape", taken after the smooth rocks with the bonsais. Next to the gorge exit, you can visit the village of Kalamafka with its taverns and gurgling water. Moreover, nearby you can visit the ancient olive oil mill and the churches of St. John and St. Anthony.

Traditional Houses Aspros Potamos
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