Sfakia Report, April 27th - hike from Kalikratis to Manikas Everything you want to ask, read or write about Sfakia, southwest Crete, or Crete island in general.

jean h
Posts: 106
Joined: 15 Sep 2020, 21:28

Sfakia Report, April 27th - hike from Kalikratis to Manikas

by jean h » 28 Apr 2022, 20:49

The weather has been sunny, hot, and calm the past couple of days. Wiltrud and I drove up to Kalikratis from Kapsodasos – the road has now been cleared of stones, but of course they’ve been pushed onto the narrow shoulder, so if another vehicle is coming towards you, you have to be very careful when pulling to the side. On two bends part way up there are now benches with trees planted beside them, so you can sit looking down to the Frangokastello plain pretending you are viewing it from an airplane. It was hazy out to sea, but we could just make out the shape of Gavdos.

view from bench.JPG

The hike from Kalikratis to Manikas (the small grazing plateau above Skaloti) is challenging (i.e. for masochists), as the “path” is little more than a rough goat track in many places, lined with spiny spurge and other prickly plants (so long trousers are highly recommended, as are hiking poles). The hike starts at the church just south of Janina’s café. The way up to the saddle is marked by cairns on the right side of the valley, although lower down the markings are harder to find. The trees have just come into leaf in the mountains, and their fresh green colour was beautiful with the sun shining through them.

hiking up to saddle.JPG

As we walked up, we found some small Cretan tulips and yellow orchids (Orchis pauciflora) in the same spot, and in other places a bee orchid, a white quadripunctata orchid, several anemone hortensis and cyclamen. Yellow tree flax was growing though some bushes, and there was a lot of blue milkwort (Polygala venulosa) poking out of several kinds of shrubs everywhere. [flower photos in the next posting]

At the top of the saddle there was a welcome breeze, and clear views down to Kalikratis and to the south. Two small green plateaus break up the rocky terrain (a rough dirt track leads from Manikas to the furthest one). As we crossed the path transversing the slope, we looked back to view the snow-covered Lefka Ori in the distance.

view back to Kalikratis.JPG

small plateaus.JPG

the saddle with Kastro mountain behind.JPG

transverse path.JPG

Although the terrain is rocky and dry, some interesting flowers can be found in the shade of the larger rocks along the path, including a few orchids and even a late fritillary. Sheep were grazing high up under hostile-looking rock formations. The views back showed more of the Lefka Ori in the distance and the western wall of the Asfendou gorge.

sheep in hostile landscape.JPG

view back to Asfendou gorge and Lefka Ori.JPG

The path eventually meets a dirt road which winds down past very full small reservoirs and old stone-lined wells. The path then leaves the road at some metal feeding troughs, cutting down to a narrow gap which leads to the lovely and atmospheric ruins of the old upper settlement of Manikas, suspended over a green plateau which hosts a few trees, a church and a few old houses. There is a dirt road that leads down to Skaloti; the old footpath down the gorge branches off to the left of that road.

Manikas house ruins.JPG

Manikas plateau.JPG

After a picnic in the shade of a maple tree by the ruins, with only bird song breaking the quiet atmosphere, we retraced our steps. We were surprised by a bulldozer smoothing out the dirt road leading to Manikas which had been very badly damaged from the winter rains in places. Back in Kalikratis, we enjoyed a fresh lemonade at Janina’s café (she is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). The quince trees are in bloom all over the village.

We arrived back in Sfakia, where it was still very warm, in time for a quick swim before sunset.

jean h
Posts: 106
Joined: 15 Sep 2020, 21:28

Re: Sfakia Report, April 27th - hike from Kalikratis to Manikas

by jean h » 29 Apr 2022, 04:32

Here are some of the flowers we saw on the hike; some are common and the smaller ones often overlooked:

Tulipa cretica, a very short variety of tulip
Tulipa cretica.JPG

Orchis pauciflora (Sparsely-flowering orchid)
Orchis pauciflora.JPG

a small white orchid with 2 spots, resembling quandripunctata
white orchid with 2 spots.JPG

a bee orchid
bee orchid.JPG


Polygala venulosa (milkwort), growing through another shrub
Polygala venulosa (milkwort).JPG

Linum arboreum (tree flax)
tree flax.JPG

Trifolium uniforum (close-up), which grows in small dense cushions of flowers
Trifolium uniforum.JPG

Thymelaea tartonraira
Thymelaea tartonraira.JPG

Quince blossom
quince blossom.JPG

kokkinos vrachos
Posts: 90
Joined: 01 Nov 2020, 20:35
Location: Hamburg

Hike: Kallikratis - Manikas gorge - Skaloti

by kokkinos vrachos » 30 Apr 2022, 05:43

Kalimera, I hiked from Kallikratis through the Manikas Gorge to Skaloti.

The Manikas Gorge is not a relaxed walk as the western Kallikratis gorge or Asfendou gorge.

The starting point was the beautiful mountain village of Kallikratis. From Kallikratis on the street east to Miriokefala. At the first gravel road to the church, it goes on the right 1.15h through a lonely mountain world to the small quiet level with the abandoned village of Manika. Except for sheep, no human soul far and wide.

Shortly after the abandoned village, it goes down into the gorge. The course of the path is laid down with blue dots. The first few minutes are very difficult because the surface is very red. A hiking stick is very helpful.

After 1.30h you pass the base for the first time, after another 20 minutes you have arrived in the gorge base.

After 30 minutes you leave the gorge on the right. After another 10 minutes you reach the street to Skaloti past an old red car.

The course of the path often runs on a Kalderimi, but it is in poor condition and is partly too grown. In some cases there is no way to recognize, and you have to look for the blue points.

I didn't meet anyone on the hike.

There are several taverns and Kafenia in Kallikratis.

Map: Anavasi 11.17. Plakias/Frangokastello 1: 25: 000.
"I hope nothing, I fear nothing, I am free."
Nikos Kazantzakis

Posts: 113
Joined: 22 Mar 2018, 16:46

Re: Sfakia Report, April 27th - hike from Kalikratis to Manikas

by kiki » 02 May 2022, 09:49

Very beautiful pictures , thanks !

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