In early February we decided to take advantage of a weekend and head to the east side of the island. Looking online, there are so many things to see and do over there, so we had to pick and choose what we could and wanted to do with the limited time. After work on Friday we drove to Heraklion and stayed the night. In the morning we went straight to Knossos. I’ve seen it on previous trips out here, but my two companions had not and they were happy to walk through it quickly. Afterward we continued east to our hike for the day: Richtis Gorge.
Thankfully I did a lot of reading up on this hike prior to our departure, so we were prepared for this wet hike. Wear shoes and pants that you are ok with getting wet and muddy. The hike follows a creek down the gorge, with plenty of crossings required. For the most crossings, you can get across without getting your feet wet, but if you make it to the bottom with dry feet, I would be pleasantly surprised. Also, I found Awesome Ashild’s blog and she made it quite clear that driving all the way down to the little road to the bridge was much more desirable than parking at the top and then walking the road… So glad I found that piece of advise!! As I drove down the road and it kept winding and twisting down through the little hills, I could just imagine how much it must have sucked to climb back up that hill at the end of the hike! So, a huge thank you, Ashild for that warning!!
The hike, as I mentioned, follows a creek down the gorge, with plenty of little waterfalls along the way. There were a couple ruined, old stone buildings that used to be mills at one point in time. The hike starts at the old Bridge of Lachanas, built in the 19th century. When the Turks lost control of Crete, some Turks attempted to flee to Sitia to catch a boat to Turkey. The Cretans had other plans and cut them off at this bridge and massacred them. The Cretans are a very unforgiving people if you are ever entertaining ideas of invading their land…
As we started our hike at the bridge, we were discovered by a little dog, whom was affectionately named Samsonite. For some reason, this dog decided we were his new best friends, and that we were in desperate need of escorting. He followed us all the way down and back up the gorge… About two hours down the gorge (we stopped a lot to take pictures of the little waterfalls and explore the old mills) you arrive at what I have dubbed, “The Stairway of Death.” It is an old wooden staircase that spirals and winds its way down the side of the gorge to the bottom. Scary, I know, but the 15 meter high waterfall at the bottom is kind of the point of this hike. So… down we went.
After enjoying the view and a snack, we started back. This hike does continue further down the gorge to the coast and a beach, however, it was already getting late in our day and we had a good deal more driving to do. This time, without wasting the time for taking pictures and despite that we were climbing up the gorge, it only took us about an hour and a half til get back to the car. A quick change of pants and shoes, and we were on our way to the little village of Kato Zakros on the east coast, where we were staying the night in a little hotel on the beach!