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Mountains
Samaria National Park
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Samaria National Park is bounded on the south-western part of the White Mountains of Chania. Core of the National Park is the spectacular homonym gorge leading to the Libyan Sea, near the village of Agia Roumeli.

 

Geomorphology

The area of the National Park is characterized by the barren landscape of the White Mountains, interrupted frequently by sharp valleys with deep erosion. The erosion of the carbonate rocks by the water and the sea level fluctuations are the main geomorphological processes of the landscape formation of the National Park.

The gorge of Samaria has been created in limestones and it is the largest of a series of gorges with South direction that flow on the southern coast of Crete. This Π (Pi) shaped narrow gorge maintains a constant depth that ranges from 500 to 700 meters. Besides the gorge of Samaria, within the boundaries of the National Park lies the Klados gorge.

The National Park of Samaria shows strong geodiversity with steep cliffs,  folded rocks,  rock shelters, caves, springs and many narrow paths.

 

Nature

The flora of the National Park is characterized by great biodiversity including many endemic species. Some species are rare and endangered. Zelkova abelicea is considered as one of the rarest trees in the world. The vegetation zones of the area are allocated according to the altitude and include pines, cypresses, oaks, hollies, Cretan maple, locust trees, myrtles, etc. In several places, the National Park hosts several types of flowers such as anemones, orchids, daffodil and aromatic and medicinal herbs (marjoram, sage, thyme, etc.)

Characteristic fauna of the National Park is the presence of ibex in the area. The ibex, also known as "wild goat" or "Kri-Kri" is the largest mammal in Crete. Overall, in the area of ​​the National Park have been observed 32 species of mammals which include the hedgehog, marten, the weasel, the bobcat etc. Bobcat is more husky than similar species in mainland Greece and it is a mysterious animal that it is difficult to be seen. Great variety occurs in birds with almost 200 species. Among them are the vulture and the golden eagle. The presence of amphibians is limited to only 3 species because of the limited surface of lakes and marshes. Finally, just a few species of reptiles have been recorded that include snakes and lizards.

 

Activities

Samaria National Park is offered for ecotourism activities. Specofically, the gorge of Samaria is accessible and signposted and it is ideal for trekking and climbing. Along the route, difficult sections are observed that require special attention from the visitors. Accessing the canyon takes on average 6 hours. The gorge is open to the public from April to October, except from the days that extreme weather events occur.