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South Western Walking Trail


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#1 REFLEX

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 03:13 AM

The information I have here says that its best to land in Hania, then get to Souda and then across to Hora Sfakion where this trail starts:

Hora Sfakion, Loutro, Agia Roumeli, Sougia, Paleohora, Elafonisi.


They said that its advised to take a boat from Agia roumeli to Sougia instead of walking because its pretty high up and a bit dangerous and it takes about 12 hours because you need to go so slow. So this is the route......

Also once in Elafonisi can we take a boat or bus back to Hania?


I'm leaving in 10 days for Europe and will be in Crete around the middle of June..... I'd love to know more about this trail if possible. My girlfriend and I would love to walk this.

#2 Yorgos

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 04:43 AM

There are two books that cover your proposed walk.

Crete: The White Mountains (Cicerone International walking series) by Lorain Wilson, that covers the most difficult stage, Agia Roumeli to Souya. It covers the whole walk from Chora Sfakion to Loutro, Agia Roumeli and then to Souya, but not further west.

The second one is:

Western Crete (Sunflower Landscapes) by Jonnie Godfrey and Elizabeth Karslake, that covers Souya to Lisos, Paleohora and to Elafonisi. They cover also Chora Sfakion, Loutro, Agia Roumeli, but not Agia Roumeli to Sougia for which you will need to buy the previous book.

The section Agia Roumeli Souya is indeed a tough one and you need to read carefully what Lorain Wilson says about this path. You can also read about this walk by a fairly experienced walker in Stelios Jackson’s walk across Crete here:

http://sjwalks.inter...org/0140010.htm

Enjoy, but be well prepared.

#3 REFLEX

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 05:45 AM

So would it be best to perhaps to hire a boat for that portion of the trip?

I'm going to read through that link you provided, thank you, do you know how long it would take (assuming we used a boat for the Agia Roumeli to Souya section) to complete the journey?

#4 harribobs

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 12:49 PM

you don't have to hire a boat, there's a ferry service B)

the E4 trail itself goes from Kissamos in the west to Zakros in the east ( not just the section you've mentioned)
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#5 REFLEX

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 06:14 PM

Cool! thats a short ferry ride! From one little town to the other.


But it is recommended that we skip that rough part of the trip right?


And does anyone know how long it would take to navigate the trip I have outlined, including the ferry trip? 3 days or so perhaps? any over night stops that are NOT in towns? is the trail marked or is it easy to get lost..?

Lots of questions I know. B)

#6 Julie

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 09:42 PM

Do not attempt the Agia-Roumeli section unless you know the area and have had plenty of experience walking in Crete. Judging by your questions, I think this leg of the coastal walk is a no-go for you.

The rest of it shouldn't present any problems, as long as you have suitable footwear and stamina for walking long distances on rough, stony ground.

The train is well marked with black and yellow E4 signs. You cannot get lost (except between Agia Roumeli and Sougia, but you're not going to do that leg!)

First you need the bus from Chania to Chora Sfakion.

The walk from Chora Sfakion to Loutro takes between 2 - 2 1/2 hours - longer if you stop at Sweetwater Beach, or one of the other beaches on the way, to swim. Loutro is a good place to break the journey, enjoy the ambience, have lunch and supper, spend the night.

Loutro-Agia Roumeli is much longer: 14 km. The "official" time estimate is 5 hours. As you don't know the area, aren't used to walking in Crete, and will want surely want to stop to take photographs and enjoy the scenery, you should allow 6. It's an all-day, absolutely beautiful coastal walk - one of my favourites, and I know the area well. You should also allow time to stop at Agios Pavlos, to look at the Byzantine church on the beach, have a drink or lunch at the taverna, and swim. Take the ferry to Sougia: it leaves at 16.45 and arrives about an hour later.

If you aren't in a hurry, spend the night at Agia Roumeli - a lovely, quiet place with many rooms and good places to eat. Spend the next day walking up the Samaria Gorge part way and back again, and take the ferry to Sougia the following day.

The walk from Sougia to Paleochora, a pleasant, large village with plenty of rooms, takes about 5 hours.

I haven't walked the Paleochora-Elafonisi leg, but Landscapes of Western Crete gives the distance as 9km from Krios Beach to Elafonisi, and a time estimate of 3 1/2 hours.

You will need to carry plenty of water: the south coast can be very hot. Apart from the taverna at Agios Pavlos, there is nowhere to replenish your water supply. Allow a litre each for the Chora Sfakion-Loutro section, two litres each for the Loutro-Agia Roumeli section, and the same for the Sougia-Paleochora section.

To answer your overall time question, you could do the whole thing in three days, but it would be a pity to rush it when there are so many interesting things to see and do on the way. For example - just for starters:

From Loutro, you could explore the Aradena Gorge before going on to Agia Roumeli.

If you spent a night in Agia Roumeli you could walk halfway up the Samaria Gorge and back - start at first light and you would have it to yourself until you meet the first walkers from the top at about 10-11 am.

If you spent a night in Sougia you could walk the Agia Irini Gorge before moving onto Paleochora.

Enjoy your trip!

#7 REFLEX

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:32 PM

Wow, thanks a lot for that information. I'm going to write some of that down and make sure we are fully prepared. 4 Days sounds about right to take it all in and enjoy the scenery. I simply cannot wait, we leave for Spain in a week and arrive in Crete a few weeks later.

Are there any concerns of animals or anything else other than heat and fresh water?

#8 Emma1310

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:43 PM

There are grasshoppers as big as your arm with really nasty teeth.

B)

Those goats can be a bit pushy too.
Now is the time for drinking, now the time to beat the earth with unfettered foot.

#9 REFLEX

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:46 PM

ha!


Ok.. well I can handle that!


In the part of Canada we are from if you are out in a trail in the middle of nowhere you got a few large concerns.... haha!

B)

#10 Julie

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 09:15 AM

Reflex

The heat, and making sure you are carrying enough water for your own needs are your main concerns. My estimates of 1 and 2 litres are right for me, but I'm not a heavy drinker, and I never walk in Crete when it is really hot, as it will probably be in June when you are there. You should err on the generous side, as it is no joke to run out, for example, on the final leg of the Loutro-Agia Roumeli leg, which is a seemingly endless slog along an immensely long, hot beach.

If you or anyone in your party has vertigo, parts of the Chora Sfakion-Loutro leg may be a problem, as will the cliff path between Loutro and Marmara Beach on the way to Agia Roumeli. If that is likely to phase you, let me know and I'll describe the bits I mean so that you can judge.

The goats will be a pleasure, not a problem. There are no poisonous snakes, as far as I'm aware.

Four days (not three, as I said in my first post) is the minimum, unless you do the whole Chora Sfakion-Agia Roumeli leg in one go. (People do, but I wouldn't recommend it: it's at least seven hours walking in the sun - the only shade is the pine forest before you get to Agios Pavlos) - more like eight or nine unless you rush. So you will need a day for Chora Sfakion-Loutro, a day for Loutro-Agia Roumeli, a day for Sougia-Paleochora, and a day for Paleochora-Elafonisi. That's without any of the "extras" I mentioned. I know the area well, and can tell you that it would be a real pity to confine yourself to four days unless you really have no more time than that.

You asked about places to stay that are not in towns. There are no towns. Chora Sfakion and Loutro are small villages. Agia Roumeli and Sougia are smaller villages. Paleochora is a large village. But if you really want to completely away from civilisation completely, there is Niko's taverna at Lykos, between Loutro and Marmara Beach, and little cabins without electricity at Marmara Beach. Between there and Agia Roumeli there is nothing, except the taverna at Agios Pavlos, but I don't think they have rooms. People do camp on the beach, though.

You will have no difficulty finding rooms when you arrive in Agia Roumeli and in Paleochora. It would be wise to book ahead in Loutro and Sougia. June isn't quite the height of the season, but both villages have limited accommodation and both are very popular.

#11 REFLEX

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 09:50 AM

Booking a head might be difficult because we wouldn't know the exact date we will be there, we might be a day or two a head of time.. or behind. I wonder what else we can do?


As far as heights/vertigo.... we are fine with that I am sure. We can acquire fresh water a long the way from these villages? 4-5 days is fine as that leaves us just over another week to go to Sifnos and possibly Santorini.

The walk is very important to me, I think it will be a great way to experience greece....... and especially crete ofcourse.


The booking with the villages/towns would be difficult as I have said, since we don't know the exact date we will be there, we might be a day early or late.

#12 Aurelia

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 10:38 AM

Hi Julie,

I had been planning to do the Chora Sfakion to Loutro walk in late September, but I do have vertigo.
I suppose there is no avoiding this part. Is the path high and narrow? I feel dizzy already ;-)

Aurelia

#13 harribobs

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 11:16 AM

I do have vertigo. I suppose there is no avoiding this part. Is the path high and narrow? I feel dizzy already ;-)


the path is literally cut out of the cliff and is quite tricky in places, if you have vertigo it's a not really an option

(i've borrowed this from Erno ( hope he doesn't mind)

Posted Image

you could of course get a boat from sfakia to sweetwater and continue from there

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#14 Aurelia

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 01:39 PM

Wow, thanks for that picture. I don't think I could manage that. What a pity.

Has anyone every fallen from there?

aurelia

#15 Julie

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 02:50 PM

Hi Aurelia

It's high. But it's not **that** narrow. I would say that it is about six feet wide, and solid rock. I would not say that it's a definite no-no for anyone with vertigo (though Erno and I have had this argument in the past) because I know people with vertigo who do it without any problems. You would have to see for yourself: you might find you could manage it as long as you have company to talk to and as long as you don't look down, and you could always turn back if you felt you really couldn't go on.

There are parts of the path that are trickier than the section in the photo. The part that most vertigo sufferers really dislike is the bit that goes across a sandy scree slope. It's very short, and the sand is well packed, and the rock beneath it is solid, but it's fairly narrow. There are bits where the path has collapsed and has been fixed which really are narrow and a bit treacherous. Between Sfakia and Glyka Nera there's a scramble over the big rock fall which obliterated the path years ago: it's well marked with cairns, but it's a scramble.

"Walking" in Sfakia is not really like walking anywhere else...

But it's marvellous.

#16 Julie

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 02:55 PM

"Apart from the taverna at Agios Pavlos, there is nowhere to replenish your water supply."

Correction: you can refill your water bottles from the spring at Lissos, about a third of the way along from Sougia to Paleochora. Lissos is a wonderful, quiet place with plentiful remains of Graeco-Roman civilisation and a lovely little beach. Leave Sougia early in the morning and you can spend a few hours there before continuing to Paleochora.

#17 Julie

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 03:08 PM

Acquire a good guide book that has the details of hotels and rooms, and call ahead a day or two before. You will know when you arrive in Chania when you will be in Loutro, so you can call from there, and you can call Sougia from Loutro. You needn't worry about Agia Roumeli, where there are lots of rooms and where almost no-one stays at night, or Paleochora, which although a popular destination has so many rooms that it's always possible to find something (though even there you could save yourself tramping around after a long day's walk by calling ahead).

I'm not suggesting that you will find nothing in Loutro or in Sougia, only that these are popular places with limited accommodation. You're unlikely to have to sleep on the beach, you'll find something eventually, but it's nice to know that you've got a bed and a shower waiting after you've been walking all day.

You can replenish your water supplies in all the villages you will stay in or pass through, and at the the taverna in Agios Pavlos, and the spring at Lissos. There's also a taverna at Marmara Beach, about an hour's walk from Loutro. But as I said before, there are long stretches for which you will need plenty of water.

#18 Tim

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 03:23 PM

I have not tried the path as I was put off what appeared to be quite a difficult piece near the Hora Sfakia end where the path seems to go around the corner of a cliff - or so it appears from the ferry. Any comments folks? (While I look for a photo of said section)

#19 Julie

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 04:44 PM

Hi Tim

You can't tell from the ferry. It may look breathtakingly precipitous, but the cliff section between Chora Sfakion and the rock fall before Glyka Nera is does not really present difficulties except for some people who suffer from vertigo. See my post above: there are worse bits, places where you need to step carefully, but the path as a whole is not as difficult as it looks from a distance. For anyone with heart problems or breathing difficulties, the ascents, of which there are few, are a good deal less taxing than most of the walks in the area. It's a glorious coastal walk - as Lorraine Wilson says, "A Mediterranean classic".

#20 Tim

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 05:24 PM

Thanks Julie
It is comforting to hear from one who knows.