E4 TRAIL FROM SFAKIA TO AGHIA ROUMELI (CRETE)

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Sfakia - Agia Roumeli (E4 path)

Sfakia is located in the southern Crete at Chania prefecture next to the Libyan sea. In the region there is a large network of trails and many gorges ideal for hiking. The most famous route is the path that connects to Sfakia Agia Roumeli, starting at about three kilometers outside the village.

To find the path, which is well marked throughout its length, we need to follow the paved road, towards the villages of Kambia and Agios Dimitrios. We need to walk 3 km on the asphalt road until we reach the path on our left side. The entrance is marked with a post.

 

We enter the path and begin to descend to the beach “Glyka Nera” which means fresh water. The landscape appears arid, but oleanders near the sea indicate that underground fresh water flows. If we dig in the sand of the beach will find drinking water, which springs from the White Mountains. The phenomenon of underground water drainage to the sea is observed all along the route, resulting in the waters near the coast to be very cold. The small tavern on the beach offers water and food.

Then the trail goes to the village of Loutro (Bath). Loutro is the biggest village along the way and has many restaurants and hotels. It is good to know that along the route there are not many shady spots to rest, so the hat and sunscreen are essential. Those who do not wish to walk in here, can take the boat from Sfakia or from Agia Roumeli. Leaving the village behind we head to the site "Phoenix" to the left of the village. The beautiful church is an ideal location for a stop. 

After a while we will see the village Phoenix. From this point some trails start to villages Agios Dimitrios and Livaniana. We will remain next to the shore; soon we will reach the beach Marmaras after the village of Lykos. At the beach there is a tavern, and for here starts the gorge of Aradena. In case we do not have enough water we should fill our tanks since the next source of water is far.

Now we follow the path towards the chapel of St. Paul. It takes a lot and is tedious. You must know that if something goes wrong, there is no road leading to a village to summon help. However, the frequent encounters with other hikers gives a sense of security.

Shortly before arriving in St. Paul the arid landscape begins to change so that the trails goes through a pine forest. Beside the church there is a tavern, from which we can get supplies. The beach is one of the largest in the region and essentially forms the bay of Agia Roumeli. The underground water coming from the mountain makes the sea cold even in the summer.

 

Shortly after Saint Paul the trail descends to the beach. Before we reach Agia Roumeli, we pass a rocky area and the entrance of the gorge Elygias. At the end there is a small dirt road and a sheepfold and the entrance to the gorge of Samaria.

Overall, the trip takes about seven to eight hours depending on walking pace. Despite the underground waters there are no sources available, but the restaurants, located on the path allow us not to carry many things.

Many hikers choose to visit the canyons that branch off the path, and the villages; this can take several days Prices for apartments are relatively affordable. Those who prefer camping, it is good to know that there are not many shady spots. The site with the most trees is located near the church of St. Paul, but it is not an ideal choice.

However, one can comfortably stay overnight in one of the beaches, where there are restaurants. Another popular destination for lovers of freedom is camping at Agia Roumeli, where there is a faucet and shower. In any case it is good to know that the free camping is prohibited.

 

Another proposal for the region is the crossing of the trail combined with a visit to the canyons of Aradena and Samaria.
 
We can take the bus from Chania to Sfakia and then start walking. During the journey, we have the choice to ascend to the village Aradena though the canyon. Another option is to climb the famous Samaria gorge from Agia Roumeli, instead of getting the boat back to Sfakia and at the end to take the bus back to Chania. Thus we will avoid most of the crowd descending it.

We need to get the timetables for the buses because if you loose the last one we may end up with an extra day on the mountain.Also is to be informed about the departure times of the bus, because if we lose the last, that leaves the gorge Samaria, you should spend the night on the mountain.

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Author - photos: Panos Bampaloukas

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