Friday, July 8, 2011

Kourtaliotiko Faraggi and Preveli Faraggi (Gorge)

Κουρταλιώτικο φαράγγι

The entrance to the gorge is Gorge is located on the south side of Crete, in the Rethymnon Prefecture. The lower part of the gorge is also know as the Preveli Gorge because it ends at the Preveli palm forest and beach. south of Koxare, which is about 23 kilometers south of Rethymnon. There are steps leading down to a small church situated within the gorge. There is a paved path that you can walk on and enjoy the view of the river and the small waterfalls, but the paved path does not continue through the entire gorge.

Crossing the gorge is not recommended without a group, or at least without an experienced guide. Most of the trek is through the river, and at times the water can reach your shoulders. When the river is high, some parts are too dangerous to cross and an experienced guide will know which spots need to be avoided, and where to take a detour. Also, crossing this gorge requires a great deal of teamwork, especially in the lower section. In addition, there is no bus or taxi service from any entrance or exit point of the gorge, and you can’t just walk back up the way you came- the river will push you the other way. A tour group will have a bus waiting at the other end to pick you up.

If you are going to cross the gorge, keep the following in mind:

You are going to become completely soaked. I purchased a dry sack before the trip, and it was invaluable! I stuck it inside of my backpack, which of course was dripping wet at the end, and everything inside stayed completely dry.

Wear good hiking or tennis shoes, but keep in mind that these will be soaked by the end of your trip.

Also, if you are going to bring a camera (which you should) it MUST be a waterproof one- and you should make sure that it is on a cord that you can wear around your neck because you will need both hands free throughout most of your journey. Some things that should go inside your dry sack include a change of clothes and shoes, a beach towel (for the beach afterward), a bathing suit (if you are not already wearing one), sunscreen, and some snacks.

You should also make sure to have a bottle of water with you- while you are in a river, I’m not sure the water is safe to drink.

Another option for visiting the gorge (without having to wade through the river) is to take a boat from Plakia or Agia Galini to Preveli Beach. From the beach you can walk through the palm forest and into the lower part of the gorge on the path beside the river. The river winds through the beach and ends up in the Libyan Sea. Make sure you come prepared with plenty of sunscreen and a beach umbrella since you will most likely spend the entire day there. Typically the boats drop visitors off in the morning and then return around 5:00 P.M. to pick them up. There is a small snack bar on the beach if you choose not to bring a lunch.

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