When St. George’s Day falls during Easter week, it is celebrated on the Monday after Easter. In Sfakia there are three small churches for Agios Giorgos, and this year the the church in the upper village (Tholos) held the celebration rather than the one next to the Xenia.
The weather was perfect on Easter Sunday and Monday - sunny, warm, and no wind. Aa group of us decided to do the hike up to Kormokopos Cave which starts in Agios Ioannis. As we passed the main church of Agios Giorgos in Anopoli on the way up, the service was just ending and food was being brought out to the tables on the terrace. The grape vines are just starting to get leaves, and the fields along the road to Aradena were full of wild gladiolas and tassel hyacinths.
The well-marked path to the cave starts from the road just before Alonia, with views up to Zaranocefala.
The path climbs steadily through the pine forest; a side path to the viewpoint at Papakefala branches off from it. The footpath to the cave passes alongside the ruined stone walls of an old settlement and a covered well, which was full of water. Closer to the cave you start getting views over to snow-capped Volakias in the distance and down to the sea, where we spotted the Daskalogiannis ferry making its way from Roumeli to Sfakia.
The path was sprinkled with small pink quadripunctata orchids, and higher up we found a few little Ophrys fusca. The flowers got more interesting and colourful the higher up we went, and we especially enjoyed seeing the lovely blue Lithodora hispidula (which translates as “stone gift”) and purple aubretia. At the cave, a maple tree was humming with bees, and a colony of dark purple arums filled one corner of the opening. We spotted only one pink cistus bloom high up over the cave, but there was a lot of bright yellow tree flax (Linum arboreum) above the cave opening, and purple rock lettuce (Petramarula pinnata). [flower photos in the next posting]
The cave itself is not very deep but has a year-round spring in it, with a hose leading to a watering trough for goats that venture up that far; the cave provides a rudimentary shelter for shepherds. We paused in the very warm sunshine outside the cave, then made our way back down, passing a few more hikers.
The winter rains left many fallen stones on the roads that cars must swerve to avoid, but miraculously on the way back down to Sfakia the road had been swept clean while we were hiking. We hope that other local roads have also been cleared of rocks.
In the late afternoon back in Sfakia we watched the “dance of the Zodiacs” as Cretans with boats returned from down the coast and Gavdos, racing each other into to the new harbour at the end of their Easter holiday.
Last edited by jean h
on 27 Apr 2022, 19:49, edited 1 time in total.