Magic in Crete…

Pure Magic: Kourtaliotiko Gorge FallsSo… I finally found my absolute favorite place in Crete…  The surprise of it all is, it’s not very far away…  How on earth have I not heard of such a magical place that is only about an hour and a half away from Chania?????  I guess some people just aren’t as into exploring as I am…  Once again, I have to chalk this find up to Panaramio.com, this site is absolutely indispensable for finding amazing, off the beaten path places.  We were looking for something to do on a day off, while most of our coworkers were off working a little event.  When we found this, we knew we had to, despite the fact that it is February, that river is probably mostly runoff from the snow in the mountains, and absolutely freezing cold…

Church of St. Nicolas the Kourtaliotis of AsomatosThe two of us set out, about 11am, wide-eyed and super excited…  We found it easy enough, essentially, just take the National Road east to Rethymno, and then head south toward Spili and Preveli.  Take a right eventually after the little town of Pale, towards the towns of Koxare and Preveli.  This should take you into the Kourtaliotiko Gorge.  As you drive through the gorge, keep an eye for the section of road that has a nice stone wall for a guardrail.  There will be an archway with stairs leading down.  A short distance after that is a little parking area.  Park, and start walking down those stairs!!  The stairs will fork, with the left branch leading you to the Church of St. Nicolas the Kourtaliotis of Asomatos (there was a sign for this name!).  Just past the little church is an area to look down on the falls that pour into a narrow little gorge.  I advise walking down to this branch first, then when you walk back up to the fork to take the other branch down to the falls, you’ll be nice and hot for swimming…

Kourtaliotiko Gorge Falls from AboveThe right branch will bring you down to a little damn.  From here, we had to climb over the little fence and down onto a big rock against the concrete platform.  From there you can step on other rocks and get to land (there’s no other way sadly…).  You’ll have to push through some shrubs along what appears to possibly be a path.  This is maybe 15ft, then you find yourself on a little open area of shore, with a giant, clear, green pool of water, with little falls pouring in along it, and the entrance to the gorge…

Kourtaliotiko Gorge FallsWe changed or stripped to our bathing suits, put on some sneakers, who knew what the rocks would be like up in there…  I’m glad we took that precaution, there was a large rusty fence gate in the river at one point, who knows what other little pieces would have been waiting for our feet.  My friend had a backpack he was willing to get wet, so I triple zip-locked my DSLR up in baggies, and put that, along with a zip-locked hand towel (can’t have wets hands when taking pictures!) in his bag.  Eventually the time came, and we had to brave the freezing temperature and just go for it… Oh, how it was worth it!

Kourtaliotiko Gorge Falls, up in the gorgeFirst of all, it was amazing swimming in such crystal clear water, even if it was freezing, which in its own way was kind of rejuvenating.  Swimming up into the gorge (swimming, wading was not an option here), you just feel this overwhelming sense of awe.  I do not know that I have ever experienced a place as magical as this was.  Once you are up in the gorge, the river gets shallow again and you are able to wade, and then climb up on some large rocks.  It was from these, that I was able to retrieve my camera and snap the shots I got within the gorge.  Imagine the pictures you could get if you could bring a tripod up in there and get all set up…  The best part about choosing to do this in February… We were the only ones crazy enough to do so, and we had the whole place to ourselves!

Check out my friend’s video of our little expedition to the falls, he had a GoPro that he wore the whole time.  Amazing HD footage of the swim, the gorge, falls, and just how clear and deep some of that water was!!

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