Length: Easy part: 2,6 km including return, full track: 4,4 km including return from the gorge, 4,75 km with alternative return
Starting point altitude: 440 meters
Finishing point altitude: 440 meters
Lower altitude: 440 μέτρα
Higher altitude: 660 meters for the easy track, 810 meters for full track
Maximum altitudinal difference: 220 meters for the easy, 370 meters for the full track
Needed time: 2 hours for the easy track, 3,5 hours for full track
Level of difficulty: Average for the easy part, great for the cross of the gorge (suitable only for experienced trackers and climbers)
Available water: Only at the beginning of the track
Flora: Woodland, scrubland
Starting point: The starting point of the track is the square of the Platania village, on which there is the relative information sign from the forest administration authority of Rethymno at the beginning of the track.
Finishing point: The same as the starting point
Access: The access is possible from the village Platania, Municipality of Kourites. The visitor can either use the local coach service or his own car.
The trail “Gorge of Platania” offers a unique experience for the excursionist as it combines the wildness of the Cretan mountains with the rich flora and fauna of the island. It is a track for relatively experienced and initiated in the secrets of mountain climbing visitors, although the first and easy part of the track is even suitable for children with appropriate physical condition. The part of the track that contains the crossing of the gorge is quite dangerous for someone not experienced in mountain climbing or suffering from acrophobia, because the track is almost curved on the edge of the rocks. The last part is quite passable and easy in crossing up to the chapel of St Antonios. The alternative return from the southern trail diverts the difficult part of the gorge.
Along the track the visitor passes old and deserted olive tree groves, nicely arranged in terraces, a great variety of endemic and not only plants of Crete (such as Phlomis lanata and Campanula saxatilis), as well as typical trees at its higher parts (Quercus coccifera, Acer sempervirens and Pinus brutia). Impressive cliffs and vertical limestone rocks coloured with extraordinary yellow and red colours from rock dissolution, characterize all the highest parts of the track. Curved into the rock one can find numerous rockshelters and caves across the whole track until the chapel of St Antonios. These landscapes are suitable for the nesting of a great number of birds, mainly raptors. The visitor will came across the griffon vulture colony that fly around the vertical rocks, falcons, wild pigeons and crows. And if lucky he might be able to see the bearded vulture. The wooded vegetation dominates the part higher from the gorge and certainly the visitor will be rewarded from the pictures and the view that will face in front his eyes. Equally variable is the last part of the track that crosses the small plateau with the oak and acer trees and the caves.
The area of the Platania gorge has been incorporated in the Natura 2000 network, it is a protected area for the bird fauna, as well as a wild life refuge.
Difficulties - Dangers
The trail in the Gorge of Platania is a moderate track at its largest part demanding a good physical condition for the tracker, but very difficult and dangerous along the part that crosses the steep cliffs of the gorge. The visitor should cross this part at its own risk and definetally should be experienced and initiated in the secrets of mountain climbing. Furthermore, this part is not suitable for visitors suffering from acrophobia.
The first part of the trail that exposes the largest altitudinal difference is crossing olive grooves and is nicely arranged, when necessary with stairs. Walking in the gorge valley is safe and enjoyable with magnificent view and fantastic scenery. In places of steep cliffs wooden rails occurs for more protection.
Weather conditions in winter times can be unpredicted and heavy rain or even snow might appear. Drinkable water can only be found in the Platania village, therefore it is suggested that the needed quantities of water should be ensured in advance.
Download: Trail Brochure & Map
Language: Greek / English