Up in the Foothills of the White Mountains, looking east towards Souda Bay

From the Apokoronas plain the Lefka Ori, the White Mountains, stretch out from Chania facing north east, to beyond Georgioupoli towards Rethymno.  The foothills, up to 1600m high are split with gorges, sharp peaks rear up and vegetation is scattered thinly in patches down their steeply sloping sides.  Its a great place for a mountain walk.

Easy walking, lots of company!

It may look as if the terrain is pretty tough for walking, but there are paths up into these hills, exposed to cool mountain breezes and with the most spectacular views.  Read on so we can show you a few of them.

We’ve plotted those we can see from our gardens at Panokosmos, linked them to the excellent walking guides created by Geoff Needle which you can buy thru Amazon.  Our guests love to sit with breakfast on our kitchen terrace, because they can choose which of the vistas they’d like to experience!

The routes are mostly on gravel tracks used by 4 wheel drives, sometimes over solid rock and the slopes are generally moderate.  In the height of summer you’ll be best to set off early, preferably shortly after sunrise, take plenty of water and wear hats because of the sun, and wear good walking shoes/boots. It can get quite a bit cooler higher up, so take a thin jacket in your backpack.

Some shade early in the morning on some walks

Madaro-Volikas Refuge

Starting from Madaro village, at 560m one of the highest in the White Mountains, this mountain walk climbs back and forth along the face of the mountain, until it disappears from view up the cleft to the mountain refuge.  From this height the views across the Apokoronas to Souda Bay and the Akrotiri are magnificent. In order to get directions see walk 43 in Geoff’s second book, “More Crete Walks…”.

Views of the Akrotiri and the sea

Kares-Gerani Gorge

This walk starts in green fertile lands but climbs into the wild landscape of the White Mountains.  The views are first across the Apokoronas, then the gorge and finally of the steep White mountains towering above you.  It ends with a small church Agios Pavlos. (Geoff’s Walk 41).

Ag. Pnevma early in the season – see the patches of snow!

Melidoni-Profitis Ilias

The village of Melidoni has a big church with an atmospheric kafenio set in the square.  It’s the starting point for a couple of walks.

Start point of the Melidoni walks – car parking just behind us

One of which climbs up around the edge of Tria Korfalia to a well known church, Profitis Ilias, well known because the Cretans celebrate the religious festival of Holy Spirit Sunday amongst others. 

Profitis Ilias, looking towards the Apokoronas – the hill in the distance is Drapanos

Due to our position at Panokosmos, after these events we can watch the line of car headlights nosing slowly down the slopes as the congregation make their way home again!

Atmospheric little church at the site, mountains towering behind

Melidoni-Agios Pnevma Spring

This route splits off from the Profitis Ilias route to zig zag up a foothill (in shade until about 0830 in the summer!).  It then crosses rocky ground via a stepped path to a tiny spring set in the hillside. 

It makes a fine mountain walk with splendid views, lots of beehives and shepherds huts and enclosures.

Fres into the Foothills

Described in Walk 36 in Geoff’s second book, this climbs from the Fres-Tzitzifes road, on quiet country tracks.  This leads to ever better views of the plain to Kalyves bay.  After that the final goat track section takes us over a brow, and the landscape of the mountains unfolds.  It’s a remarkable place, calm and timeless, because there is no evidence of man’s presence.

Peace in the Mountains

Most of these walks are described in the excellent books by Geoff Needle which you can buy from Amazon. 

Books of Walks in the Apokoronas by someone who lived there!

And finally, if you stay at Panokosmos, we can lend you our copies!  We also have details of the other walks illustrated here.

Chill out by the pool after your walk in the mountains!
With a glass of chilled Cretan wine – this a Malvasia from Dourakis