[well]Samaria Gorge Quick Facts
- Longest gorge in Europe
- Stretches a distance of 9.9 miles (16 km)
- Width varies from 492 feet (150 m) wide to 9.8 feet (3 m)
The Samaria Gorge is a National Park found on the island of Crete in Greece. The park first opened in 1962 and has continued since then to be one of the major tourist attractions on the island itself. As well as being considered a natural wonder, Samaria Gorge is also a World’s Biosphere Reserve.
The entire gorge stretches for a total of 9.9 miles (16 km) in length making it the longest gorge on the entire European continent. The gorge was formed millions of years ago by a small river running through both the White Mountains and Mt. Volakias. The widest area within the gorge is 492 feet (150 m) while the narrowest area is just 9.8 feet (3 m) wide.
Once inhibited by the people of Samaria Village but as plans and changes began to occur for the building and opening of the national park, all inhabitants left by 1962. Both the village and the gorge itself were named after the ancient church within the village called Ossia Maria.
As a biosphere reserve, the Samaria Gorge is home to very unique and important flora and fauna. There are over 450 different species of plants and animals all of which are protected by the park itself. The flora within the lands of the gorge include a very wide variety of flowers, trees and shrubs with the most populated one being the tall Cypress tree.
The gorge’s fauna includes large populations of migratory birds of which consist of woodcock, turtledoves, thrushes and swallows amongst others. There are also several small mammals such as hares, badgers and polecats. However, the most well known animal that has made its home in the Samaria Gorge is the Cretan wild goat that is extremely protected with strict penalties for any sort of hunting of them.
Where is Samaria Gorge
The Samaria Gorge is located on the Greek island of Crete, which is south of the country itself. More specifically, the gorge is found in the southwest of Crete within the regional unit of Chania (also written ‘Hania’).
The coordinates of the Samaria Gorge are 35°16’16″N and 23°57′41″E.
Best Ways to See and Experience Samaria Gorge
Because of its rare and natural beauty, visitors from all over the world come to Crete to spend at least a day or two wandering through the Samaria Gorge.
Most visitors to the Samaria Gorge are looking to go hiking, which can be done throughout the entire 16-kilometer long trails. There are several tour operators within the area that can be hired for guided explorations that could last up to 2-3 days.
The Samaria Gorge and its surroundings offer visitors not only breathtaking scenes at nearly every turn but a sense of peacefulness and serenity being in the midst of a natural world wonder. No matter how visitors choose to spend their time at the Samaria Gorge, it is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Best Times to Explore Samaria Gorge
The National Park is only open from May to October and may open and close at different times depending on flood seasons. During the opening months, the weather is usually very promising and visitors can enjoy warmth and the breeze of salty air that comes in through the Mediterranean.
The summer months of June, July and August are the busiest with tourists, and the weather is usually the best during these months. May, September and October provide cooler temperatures but less crowds.
Samaria Gorge Travel Tips
More travel tips coming for Samaria Gorge. If you are a travel expert familiar with Greece or the Samaria Gorge area, you are invited to contact Seven Natural Wonders with advice and tips.