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Imbros Gorge: A Breathtaking Hiking Trail in Crete

Imbros Gorge is a stunning natural wonder located in the south of Crete. The gorge is 11 kilometers long and runs parallel to the more famous, world-renowned Samaria Gorge.

The entrance of the gorge is near the small Imbros village and it heads south to the village of Komitades. It is often cited as the second most popular gorge in Crete and is part of the European path E4, with many hikers traversing it every year.

The narrowest part of the Imbros Gorge is 1.60 meters wide and it is relatively easy to descend. The Imbros Gorge walk takes an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete and is generally considered an easy route. The gorge offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of nature and the local wildlife nesting in the area.

Guided tours are available from both Chania and Rethymnon, with various combinations taking visitors through the gorge and to the south coast to see the magnificent beaches. Experienced local guides are available to show visitors around the gorge and provide them with insights into the history and geology of the area.

In general, its accessibility is part of what makes the Imbros Gorge so popular. Even if you wish to tackle it on your own, the roads of south Crete and the proximity of Imbros village to Hora Sfakion make it really easy to reach. Unlike other gorges like Samaria, where you will have to deal with boat trips for your return, leaving is also really easy, with local buses waiting to pick you up after you descend.

Location

Imbros Gorge is located in the region of Chania in western Crete, Greece. It is situated approximately 57 kilometers southeast of the town of Chania, in the area of Sfakia. The gorge is 11 kilometers long, with the main route being about 8. The entrance of the gorge is at the Imbros village.

Visitors can park their cars on the south side of the village of Imbros, near the starting point & gorge entrance booth. There is a small entrance fee, around 2,5 euros (last checked 2023), to enter the gorge. A typical hike takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete and is generally considered an easy route, but if you take alternatives to the main route the average walking time might be longer.

The Imbros Gorge is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The ease of the hike makes it suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, making it a great family activity and an excellent way to get acquainted with the mountains of Crete and enjoy the stunning rock formations, even if you are not an experienced hiker.

It's History

The history of the Imbros Gorge is mostly associated with the World War II era. During the Second World War, the Imbros gorge was used as an escape route by Allied soldiers who were fleeing from the Germans. Through the Imbros Gorge, allied forces evacuated Crete to Egypt from Hora Sfakion, following the defeat by the Germans at the battle of Crete in 1941. The gorge was also the place where a German plane crashed; its remains are exhibited in the Askifou War Museum.

Before the road was built, the Imbros Gorge mule trail was also one of the primary means of connecting Chania and Hora Sfakion. Remains of this trail can still be seen today. The trail was used to transport goods between the two towns, and it was also used by travelers who wanted to explore the gorge.

Today, the gorge is a popular hiking destination, actually its the third most visited gorge on the island and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Features

Narrowest Point

The Imbros Gorge is renowned for its narrow passages, less than 2 meters wide. This section of the gorge, called Stenades (essentially “The Narrows”) is an unforgettable experience for hikers, as they navigate through the narrow rocky path with towering cliffs reaching up to 300 meters on either side. The narrowest point of the gorge is also a great photo opportunity for visitors, who can capture the stunning beauty of the rocky walls and their impressive formations.

Flora and Fauna

Flora and Fauna

The Imbros Gorge is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a popular destination for nature lovers. The gorge notably hosts over 50 species of birds, including the griffon vulture, which has a wingspan of up to 2.8m. Visitors can also spot rare species of plants and flowers, such as the endemic Cretan cyclamen and the Cretan ebony.

The Imbros Gorge is also home to a variety of animals, including wild goats, foxes, and snakes. Visitors are advised to exercise caution when hiking through the gorge, especially when encountering snakes.

Hiking and Trekking

Difficulty Level

Imbros Gorge is a popular hiking and trekking destination in Crete. As mentioned, the trail is approximately 8 kilometers long and relatively easy to descend. The hike takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete, depending on your pace. The trail is well-maintained and marked, making it easy to follow. The difficulty level is easy to moderate, making it suitable for hikers of all levels.

Best time to Visit the Gorge

The best time to visit Imbros Gorge is during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is mild and pleasant. During the summer months, the temperatures can be high, making it uncomfortable to hike. It is also important to note that the trail can be crowded during peak season, so it is advisable to visit during the off-season if possible. Unlike places such as the Samaria Gorge, Imbros Gorge is open all year round, so all you need is a day with good weather.

Tip for visitors

What to Wear

The Imbros Gorge hike is not too difficult, but it is still important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Good walking shoes are recommended as you will be walking on hard rocks. Sneakers are also fine, but you may want to consider wearing more serious hiking shoes to protect your feet. Additionally, it is important to dress in layers as the temperature can vary throughout the day.

Safety Precautions

While the hike through Imbros Gorge is not too difficult, it is important to take safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Stay on the marked trail, follow all posted signs and be aware of your surroundings, as the terrain can get uneven and rocky.

Our thoughts

Imbros Gorge is a breathtaking natural wonder that offers a unique and unforgettable hiking experience.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Imbros Gorge has something to offer. The trail is relatively easy and suitable for hikers of all levels, including families with children. To experience Imbros Gorge, all you need is to be ready for a long trek.

Towering cliffs with steep slopes, lush wild vegetation, picturesque scenery, narrow passages, wildlife – Imbros Gorge is the ideal walk, open to everyone, all year round.

Even for the most casual tourist, Imbros Gorge is a must-see. It might not be as grand as Samaria, but it will not disappoint. It is, after all, popular with good reason.

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