This hike was a last minute decision and turned out to be one of the top ten of our most favorite experiences since we’ve lived here. A group of 12 Americans from the base signed up to accompany Tim (our host and guide) on this spectacular journey. The Aradena Gorge starts at the foot of the White Mountains and descends quickly over 7km to end at the Libyan Sea on the shores of a beautiful secluded cove called Marmara Beach, accessible only on foot or by boat. http://www.crete-kreta.com/aradena-gorge
A hike through this gorge is more difficult than Imbros with precipitice drop offs and dramatic vistas. We began at the abandoned little village of Aradena where a wood bridge spans the gorge at such a great height that is it a favorite spot for bungie jumping. We however, kept our feet firmly planted on the ground and began the descent down into the gorge on a narrow path.
After a 2 1/2 hour walk throug the gorge we were rewarded by our first glimpse of the blue waters of the Libyan Sea and exited the gorge onto a beautiful little beach cove called Marmara Beach. A few of us jumped into the still COLD water and swam into some beautiful caves along the coastline. Cave swimming – a first for me and a really amazing experience.
After a rest on the beach, we continued up to a path that hugged the slope and it was hard to keep your eyes on the rocky path because the view of the sea was truly breathtaking!
We continued on past the ancient ruins of ancient Finix, a major city and port during Roman and Byzantine times (see Acts 27:9-26). Apostle Paul was a prisoner on a ship in AD 60 that was bound for Rome and was blown off course to seek refuge on the south coast of Crete in an area called Fair Havens (see January 2011 blog). Against Paul’s advice, the captain attempted to leave Fair Havens and sail west to winter at a more desirable harbor – Finix. They never made it and instead were forced out to sea and eventually shipwrecked on Malta. (In the photo above, Finix is located on the spit of land in the distance across the cove.)
From Finix we continued down the path and into Loutro. This gem of a seaside village is accessible only by boat or on foot. Still a sleepy little town before the flush of summer tourism, we stopped in the only taverna that had opened just that day for a well-needed and well-deserved lunch.
Unfortunately, the wind picked up and ferry services were cancelled so we hiked back out to a gravel road where our van met us and transported us safely back to the base. What a completely amazing full day of great hiking and swimming, fun people, phenomenal views and blue skies. Poli oreo (very nice)!