Sfakiano gorge Share and discuss the many routes and paths in the mountains, along the coast, and on the plains of Sfakia. Post your walk description, add photos, and discuss safety. Use information at your own risk.

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Erno
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Sfakiano gorge

by Erno » 13 Jun 2016, 10:59

Sfakiano gorge - 13 June, 2016

This happened about 2 weeks ago in Sfakia.

Three friends, a Belgian couple and a woman from London, decided to walk the Sfakiano gorge. They were inspired by the following text, found on the web:

One of the many gorges of the Sfakia district is Sfakiano. It is a beautiful gorge that starts 2 kilometers in the east of Chora, from the Niato plateau, near the Askifos settlement and ends to the Plakakia beach in the Libyan sea.

The small Agios Pavlos church is near the entrance of the gorge and was built by the residents of Sfakia in 1407. The route is on wild rocks. The gorge is in a wild natural landscape with steep rocks and rich flora (oak, pine and cypress trees).

The gorge is about 6.5 kilometers and 3 hours long and easy.

The road to Chora Sfakion is in the exit of the gorge, in Porolagos and, after some meters, the Filaki beach.


The London based husband drove them up to Niato, where they started. All are experienced walkers in the Sfakia area, one of them is even very experienced, with a history of 20 years there. They set off with plenty of water, at 10:30 AM, prepared for a 3 hours stroll...

However, at 17:00 PM they still had not returned. A bit later, the husband, who had stayed in Sfakia after the car transfer, got a telephone call. The party got lost in the mountains. The only communication that came across was: Páchnes.

He decided to drive up to Anopoli, to try to find them. It took him nearly 2 hours, and he picked them up, coming down on the road from Roussies. Safe, but exhausted, they told us where it all went wrong: see map. They took a wrong turn right, and ended up in the Lefka Ori, walking for over 7 hours.

sfakiano-gorge.jpg
All the best,

Erno
webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com

simon-1978
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Joined: 16 Nov 2015, 06:47

Re: Sfakiano gorge

by simon-1978 » 13 Jun 2016, 14:35

Hi Erno,
you state that they are experiences to very experienced. If they had once had a look at the map (I suppose they had one), then I wonder why they did not realize their mistake when they passed Kaloi Lakkoi? There are enough signs on the route from Tavri (there is a sign + map, too) and they are of the same design (I don't remember if it a red dot). Having seen no sign for a while should have alerted them anyway.
By the way: 7 h is OK for the route they walked.

This is, in my opinion, the same "level" as the people who walked Gingilos but wanted to walk Samaria gorge.
Best wishes
Simon

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Erno
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Re: Sfakiano gorge

by Erno » 13 Jun 2016, 14:46

Hi Simon,

They said they were misled by a sign and red dots, that made them decide to take the right turn. Also, I am almost sure they did NOT have a map with them! Just handies with GPS. This is because they expected to have a very simple, straightforward gorge walk, straight down from Niato to Chora Sfakion.

Not long after Kali Lakkoi they made another mistake, already being lost. They took a left turn near Mouri (they were looking for a southward path, hoping to reach Chora Sfakion), and got stuck there, and had to walk back to the main track, following it to the west this time.

From the map below you can see their attempt to follow in the right direction, as the Sfakiano gorge goes. Only, they were somewhere else than they expected.

sfakiano-gorge-mistake2.jpg
All the best,

Erno
webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com

simon-1978
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Joined: 16 Nov 2015, 06:47

Re: Sfakiano gorge

by simon-1978 » 13 Jun 2016, 16:32

Well, OK. I assume they either followed the old kalderimi bypassing Kaloi Lakkoi (small red dots, not shown in your older map version) or the one starting from Kaloi Lakkoi (red mark / arrow), both joining and then leading to Skarfidhia. If they had walked towards Mouri, they could have walked straight down to Chora Sfakion. --> Their massive mistake was not to have a map with them.
The Sfakiano gorge is really easy - only the stretch from Trikoukia to Agios Pavlos chapel a bit more difficult.

Best wishes
Simon

agonigrami
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Re: Sfakiano gorge

by agonigrami » 14 Jun 2016, 15:52

Erno, the Sfakiano Gorge trail is consistently waymarked with white-blue signs, already from the south border of Niato Plateau. They must have missed the junction a Trikoukkia', where there is a sign on a big stone (I remember seeing it coming from Kali Lakki a few weeks ago). Said that, it's difficult to imagine experienced hikers walking for hours towards West instead of South and in open terrain instead of a gorge without realising they have made some mistake.

Cheers,
Alf

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Erno
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Re: Sfakiano gorge

by Erno » 14 Jun 2016, 16:59

After they made the first mistake, missing the junction after Trikoukia, they did not realise it. Later on, they did realise, and then decided to walk towards familiar terrain, in order to be able to come down.
All the best,

Erno
webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com

agonigrami
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Joined: 29 Nov 2015, 13:18

Re: Sfakiano gorge

by agonigrami » 15 Jun 2016, 21:01

All's well that ends well, lucky them to have somebody to rescue and pick them up instead of enduring a night out in the mountains.

Cheers,
Alf

mike
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Re: Sfakiano gorge

by mike » 17 Jun 2016, 09:08

The ravine section between Trikoukia and Ag Pavlos (marked on anavasi map and white/blue waymarked) is ridiculous anyway -- as a recreational walk.

How often have I suggested that 'experienced' - especially when offered as a self-description - can be practically meaningless when it comes to hiking on Crete? It is even a learned skill to read waymarks, cairns, all sorts of path markers. What's worse, marking trails reflect thought processes of the person laying down the markings, and it is not an easy thing to do correctly.

People walking in groups can be extra susceptible to brief moments of inattention. They chat among themselves, perhaps placated by the prior assumption that they know what they're doing. Really, it can take only a few seconds and you can miss a trail marker.

It also takes knowledge to recognize when you have made a mistake. I mean knowledge about the visual layout of the landscape, and prior knowledge about the route(s) through that landscape. I have made more than few wrong turns in my day, but I have enough of a mental map of the area that simply looking around goes a long way to getting properly oriented. This, in addition to the map and compass that I always have with me.

langsten
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Re: Sfakiano gorge

by langsten » 17 Jun 2016, 17:40

I walked up the Sfakiano Gorge just two days ago. I wandered about in Kali Laki for a while checking out the various paths, before walking up the ravine to the barren area where the kalderimi to Skarfidhia begins, and then down to the road. I must say it is a bit difficult to conceive that people could be walking up to Skarfidhia thinking they were walking down a gorge. On the other hand, they should probably be given credit for following the path and kalderimi. Though parts of it are clear and well way-marked, other parts are, at best, obscure. I got off the path several times and had to spend some time finding the path again.

Also, I give them credit for being fast. I started from the foot of the Sfakiano gorge, near Virtomartis at 6:30AM, and didn't get back to Loutro until 9:30PM. Clearly they move more quickly than I do.

Ray.

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