When the lockdowns cease, and when the threat of the second wave of coronavirus dissipates, Crete is a paradise waiting to be explored. Like the brilliant bright edges of a lucid dream, this largest of Greece’s islands is a continent apart, with untold nature, historical, cultural, and adventure experiences to enjoy. Today, Argophilia is happy to present fabulous Richtis Gorge, one of the most diversified hiking experiences in Crete.
Located on the north coast of Crete in Lasithi Prefecture, Richtis Gorge lies between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in the far east of the island. A fabulous hiking experience for any level of experience, the trail from the highlands near the main road outside the village Exo Mouliana leads to the small and secluded Richtis Beach, east of the village Kalavros.
The approximately 3 kilometers of sloping trail takes hikers 350 meters down from its starting point past some of the island’s most diverse nature. Water from Drymias peak, some 918 meters above sea level, filters down to the streams of Lachanas and Mesa Mouliana which merge near the starting point and flow northward to the gorge’s most stunning attribute, the high waterfalls of the same name. In fact, the word richtis means “waterfall” in the Cretan dialect.
The hike down the mountains to the beach takes between three and four hours, depending on your pace. Beginning at the stone-arched bridge of Lachanas (19th century), famous as a place where Christians killed the Turks of the region during Ottoman times. From there, the route continues in a lush landscape along the river, within the amazing scenery of East Crete. Along the route, hikers will find huge Plane Trees, stunning oleander and sage, and countless herbs that perfume the air in the gorge. The trek leads past old water mills, and finally to the falls, which are more than 20 meters high.
On reaching Richtis Falls, hikers are immersed in an Eden-like landscape. The crystal falls, tined with green and sunlight by day, plunge into a magnificent pool where most hikers stop to refresh themselves with a plunge.
Finally, the trail leads to the pebbly Beach of Richtis where trekkers will find a small park with tamarisk trees, stone seats and tables, and a refreshing water fountain with potable water. A dip in the aquamarine Cretan Sea here, and perhaps a short nap in the sun, would make for a perfect experience in the Cretan paradise. The video below via ANATOLI news, shows off Richti Falls from above the pool.
Tips from Cretan Beaches
Most visitors leave their car on the central road at Exo Mouliana and walk down the paved road to meet the bridge Lahanas. You can gain around 30′ minutes walking if you drive and park next to the bridge of Lahanas; from there reaching the waterfall takes around 1.5-2 hours. However, for less able-bodied people or people with young children, the shortest way to reach the waterfall is to drive in the narrow paved road to the beach of Richtis and walk for around 30′ in the opposite direction of the river.
Places to stay near Richtis Gorge
Richtis Gorge is located in a fairly remote area, so traditional hotels and resorts are about 30 minutes away in either Sitia or Mochlos. However, there are many Airbnb rentals to choose from. In fact, self-catered villa and home rentals are one of the best ways to truly enjoy all that Crete has to offer. Here are a few of the man possibilities near the gorge.
One of the most unique and spellbinding stays offers in the area is Camper/RV hosted by Oliver (€93 per night), which sits overlooking the Cretan Sea and the majestic nature of the gorge. Right in Exo Mouliana Village, there’s Sterei Cottage Traditional House (€59 per night), a quant traditional Cretan house with stunning views of the sea, the village, and the nature around the gorge. Then there’s the stunning Agrilos House (€88 per night), with perhaps the best views of the Cretan Sea in northern Lassithi Province.
Below is a gallery from friends of Argophilia from their visits to these magnificent falls. Thanks to Irin Manousaki, Eleni Bantouraki, Giannis PeDiaditakis, and Weronika Hempel for their amazing Richtis Gorge shares.