Tucked away in the southwest of Crete, Anydri Gorge is a paradise for hikers seeking the unbeaten path. Unlike its more renowned counterparts, this hidden gem offers a unique blend of rugged terrain, enchanting flora, and a sense of adventure that’s second to none. The gorge gathers water from the Asfendiles and Ancient Hyrtakina areas, flowing through the stream Dichalomata.
The hike begins in a relatively remote area, so be prepared for a bit of a trek to reach the starting point. It starts at the village Anidri and winds about 3km between tall cliffs before ending at the lovely Gialiskari beach. Hiking in the canyon is simple and follows the stream, which is dry in the summer. There aren’t many trees, and the rocky walls are not very tall, so bringing a hat and sunscreen is essential.
Anydri presents an unspoiled landscape where the whispers of ancient folklore echo through the craggy escarpments. It’s a place where the soul of Crete reveals itself, inviting intrepid hikers to forge their unforgettable tales amidst nature’s untrammelled beauty.
The optimal time to venture through Anydri Gorge’s labyrinthine pathways is late spring to early autumn when the weather is mild, the wildflowers are in bloom, and the gorge resonates with the symphony of nature. The temperatures are ideal for a comfortable trek, allowing hikers to fully immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of this unspoiled wonderland. Heading out in the early morning or late afternoon offers a splendid interplay of light and shadow, adding an extra layer of enchantment to the journey.
As you venture deeper into the gorge, take a moment to appreciate the diverse flora and fauna that call this stunning landscape home. Keep an eye out for the native Cretan wildflowers, adding vibrant pops of colour to the rugged terrain. You will find Cretan herbs like dictamnus, sage, and oregano here. The gorge is also home to a variety of wildlife, including small mammals, reptiles, and a wide array of bird species.
When exploring the Anydri Gorge, taking a detour to visit the nearby attractions can add an extra layer of excitement to your adventure.
One attraction worth the detour is Gerhard Stelzhammer’s Sculpture Garden, situated 3 km east of Paleochora toward Anidri. After the campsite, the road splits. The right leads to Anidri Beach, while the left goes to the small village of Anidri. 1.5 km before reaching Anidri, the sculpture garden is on the right, across from Metacom, an ecological seminar centre. Further up in town, you’ll find Cafe Sto Scolio and the entrance to the Anydri Gorge.
The beautiful Gialiskari beaches near Anydri village in West Crete are a must-see. These stunning beaches, just 4km east of Paleochora and 80km south of Chania city, stretch for about 18km. Gialiskari is a group of peaceful beaches at the end of Anidri Gorge, with small pebbles, calm waters, and umbrellas. It’s nudism-friendly, and you can reach it by following a dirt track east of Paleochora. The area was popular with hippies in the 1970s, and you can also walk down the gorge from Anydri village to reach Anydri Beach.
Finally, the magnificent sacred plane tree of Azogyres stands proudly at the monastery of the 99 Holy Fathers in the village of Azogyres, located in the Selino province, just about 2.4 kilometres from Anydri Gorge. This remarkable tree has been declared a natural monument. The 99 Holy Fathers, including Saint John the Hermit, the founder of asceticism in Crete, found their home under this remarkable tree after they arrived from Egypt, Cyprus, and Turkey. Saint John the Hermit was laid to rest in the Katholiko monastery. What makes the plane tree of Azogires unique is that it stays green all year round, unlike most other plane trees that lose their leaves in winter. It’s said that the tree branches form 99 crosses, representing the number of the holy fathers.