LEVELS OF DIFFICULTY
The paths that we propose to you are all safe and tested. Furthermore the following information concerns all types of excursions that you can choose during your stay in Crete.
Even if you are an experienced hiker please do not disregard our advice for it concerns specifically the island of Crete.
Crete is an island of wilderness. Its wild side makes it so appealing to hikers and travellers in general but there is a great number of them that underestimate how wild it can become and they put themselves in danger. Every year there are people that need to be rescued, some get badly hurt and others even die. Most of the times none of these incidents would have happened if basic precautions had been taken or if they had used their common sense.
- The routes are rocky, wild and the paths are usually a lot narrower than in other places. What appears easy on a map can be proven to be a lot more difficult in real life. You have to always be aware of where you are walking. If you want to admire the landscape take a break and look around.
- In the summer: you will have to drink a lot water and you will also need to carry extra water with you in case you get delayed somewhere or you get lost. Water cannot be found at any point along the paths, even if there might be some springs along the way during the summer they will have probably dried up.
- In the rain: Under no circumstances must you walk in the gorges while it is raining or even if it is about to rain. Although the danger of sudden flooding is not great there is always the possibility of falling rocks (mainly in the big gorges such as Samaria). If it begins to rain while you are already inside the gorge get out as soon as possible. !!! Another thing to keep in mind while walking inside a gorge even if it not raining is the goats. Goats have a tendency to kick rocks when they are climbing so make sure you are not walking behind them. Keep an eye for them.
- Do not walk alone on a path unless you know for certain that there are other people around. Many people on paths do not see anyone for days and even a small injury (such as a sprain or a broken ankle) could have dire consequences. If you cannot find a friend to walk with, make sure that someone knows where you are going and when you are coming back.
- Choose the time of year which is best suited to the kind of excursion you want to go on: July and August are generally too hot to go hiking near the sea. You run the risk of getting dehydrated and suffering from a sunstroke. They are however the best months to go hiking on the mountain. In April and May, even though there is a slight chance of rain, they are the best months for hiking in Crete because nature is at its most magnificent in springtime.
- Completely different compared to the other months June and September are excellent months for excursions and also October, on the condition that you will be prepared for sudden thunderstorms.
A list of mistakes hikers make in Crete
- Not wearing warm clothes: trusting that the weather is perfect (no wind or clouds) in the summer is a big mistake. If the weather gets cloudy and the wind begins to blow the temperature will drop dramatically even if it is 30 degrees on sea level.
- Not having a backup plan of safe return in case the weather gets bad or foggy: if you do not have a compass or a good map (or even a GPS with a marked route). If there is a fog you have to wait until the weather gets clearer. This could take hours or even days.
- No equipment to spend the night outside in case of unforeseen circumstances (because people rely on the good weather conditions, they will have a tough time sleeping outside wearing only their summer clothes).
- Thinking that you can find easily the ancient paths: don't even try. Apart from some paths which have good signs to guide you (the E4 has signs on a part of it) the majority of the paths that you can see on the maps are difficult to recognize. Be prepared to spend a lot of time looking for them (and calculate how long it will take as well).
- Counting on the fact that you have a mobile phone in case of an emergency even though you don't know who to call for help (this always happens).
- Returning to the nearest village on foot to ask for help for a person that has been hurt (because you didn't have your mobile/signal/ batteries or you do not know who to call ) only to find out that you are not able to relocate the injured person you left behind (yes, it happens).
- Calling for help without knowing where you are (yes this also happens).
- Thinking that you can keep walking straight ahead despite the fog or the clouds (with your compass) and you will end up somewhere eventually. This happens often and you find yourself at the edge of a cliff.
- Thinking that a path that looks quite easy on a map will be easy to walk on too. Numerous paths are considered really easy by the Cretan shepherds and hunters but foreigners who do not live on the Cretan mountains might have a hard time.
- Underestimating the quality and the difficulty of the ground of each region is the most common problem hiker’s face here in Crete. The ground is wild and rocky and the paths are a lot narrower than elsewhere, what appears to be a straightforward path on the map proves to be a lot more challenging than you might have imagined.
- Getting lost because several paths are not well marked.
- Problems due to the heat occur mostly in the summer. In fact it is a good time for hiking just not near the sea. SOURCE: http://www.west-crete.com