Walking Aradena gorge

The new school year was about to start. Should we have a little late summer trip before the start? Of course we should!

We had also been planning for a while to test out the van as a campervan of sorts.

So we spent some time on Sunday getting out some camping stuff. Then on Monday morning we loaded the van with everything, including the kayak and one e-bike.

We set off for Chora Sfakion and got there around lunchtime. We stopped at the bakery for sandwiches and pastries, and after that some ice-cream! We decided to go and walk Aradena gorge in the afternoon.

Aradena is a pretty wild place, some distance from Chora Sfakion which is itself a good distance from most other places in Crete.

There is an impressive metal and wood bridge that crosses over the gorge. It shakes and rumbles every time a vehicle goes over, with the sound carrying a considerable distance.

Today Aradena is not a very populated village. There is a canteen on the other side of the crossing, for the hikers who come here all the way to walk the wild gorge. There are many abandoned houses falling apart. We also met a good number of wasps, both outside and inside the gorge.

Before the walk, however, we drove down the long, winding downhill road to Livaniana, towards the exit of the gorge. We parked the e-bike there, locked to a fence, to use at the end of the walk to go back and retrieve the car.

After all the preparation, we drove over the bridge to find the beginning of the path. At this point it was 4pm, and we knew we only had a few hours before sunset.

To descend into the gorge, we walked a path that from the side looks carved in stone on the gorge wall, but it is really well kept. Then we walked on the riverbed, passing under the famous bridge, hearing all the cars rumbling.

We walked on the stony riverbed, over big boulders. We took a detour up the side on some stone steps, with an impressive view from the top. Then back down. We met other walkers during the first half of the excursion. Then it was just us. Still more boulders, and more walking. Goats and ravens. Some falling stones. A big cave. Signs for old paths to other villages, Livaniana and Agios Ioannis.

It was mostly shady and cool in the gorge, but pretty still. Some dips were pretty hot though, especially getting close to the sea.

After about 3 hours, feeling tired, we saw the sea! And in another 5 minutes we were on Marmara beach. The sun had just set. Giulia and I jumped in the sea for a quick swim, as people were leaving the tiny beach on taxi boats. We saw big groups of lionfish, 6 here, 3 there. They are really invading the Cretan sea. We saw them for the first time in Falasarna about a month ago, and we have seen them since many more times in Falasarna, in Sougia and now here.

I rushed up the path from Marmara to Livaniana to get the bike. I almost run and it took a good 20 minutes. In the twilight, I jumped on the e-bike and gave it all up the steep hill. It was a beautiful ride, with the soft dusk light below me as I ascended the hairpin bends. I was sweating exhilaration and effort. Towards the top it was dark enough and I was fast enough that I almost lost control on a bend, going up what must have been 15% slope.

I rode over the bridge in semi-darkness, invisible, announced by the rumble. I loaded the bike on the car and drove again back down the same road, to meet the girls. They had walked up the path to Livaniana, then made it another km or so up the road. We finished the day with a glorious dinner at a taverna in Anopoli, with super tasty vegetables and the best appetite after walking (and cycling) for hours!

 
Total distance: 6.42 km
Max elevation: 573 m
Min elevation: 3 m
Total climbing: 132 m
Total descent: -701 m
Total time: 03:05:16
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