Imbros Gorge is a half-day family hike through a canyon with impressive slot narrows and forested hillsides in southwestern Crete near Chora Sfakion. Difficulties encountered on the hike include finding transportation to and from the canyon and making sure to bring enough water on hot summer days. A Google Earth map of the hiking route (turned to the east for better viewing) can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the parking area at the top are 35° 14.903'N, 24° 10.044'E. GPS coordinates for the parking area at the bottom are 35° 12.466'N, 24° 10.383'E.
The day after we did the Samaria Gorge experience, we woke up and drove our rental car onto a ferry boat. The car ferry took us from Sougia to Agia Roumeli to Chora Sfakion (sometimes spelled Hora Sfakion or referred to simply as Sfakia). As we had a hike of Imbros Gorge planned for the afternoon, this option seemed to make more sense than spending several hours driving winding mountain roads in order to get from Sougia to Chora Sfakion. Instead, we got to relax on the ferry boat and enjoy views of the southern Crete coastline as well as spend some time at the beach in Agia Roumeli. Upon finally arriving in Chora Sfakion (the ferry boat takes a break in Agia Roumeli), we drove a short distance to the small village of Komitades. After checking out the exit point for Imbros Gorge (and seeing the dramatic view of the mouth of the gorge draining into the Libyan Sea), we drove up the extremely windy and steep road to the village of Imbros. This can be a very intimidating section of road for some drivers as it climbs up the face of the mountainside. At the same time, the road provides for tremendous views looking along the coastline and out to sea. Gary decided to sit this hike out after hiking gorges for four consecutive days with me. But Daria and Alesya decided to join me since this hike seemed like it would be the easiest of the trip with no obstacles or steep parts to contend with. Thus, Gary dropped us off (along with Stefan in his backpack carrier) at the top of the gorge and he drove the car back down to the bottom to relax at one of the tavernas until we finished the hike. Imbros Gorge starts out as a gentle valley which begins to form hillsides and canyon walls as it heads to the south. During the early part of the hike, we could see the road high above us on the right side. We passed through an area of beautiful forest which was similar to both Agia Irini and Samaria, yet on a smaller scale which helped us to appreciate it more. Some of the trees which can be seen through Imbros Gorge include cypresses, almonds, maples, oaks, and fig trees, along with others. It wasn't long before the canyon suddenly started tightening up. It really caught me by surprise when we entered the 1st Narrows because I had not been expecting to find slot narrows which were so dramatic on the hike. The 1st Narrows were shallow but incredibly beautiful, and we got lots of photos as we passed through them. A little farther down canyon we walked into the 2nd Narrows, which were even more special. The 2nd Narrows were more lengthy and the canyon walls were much higher. One of my trip planning resources states that the gorge walls through this area are only 5 1/4 feet in width and reach about 1,000 feet high. I'm assuming they are including the height of the hillsides above the canyon in that figure, but since I couldn't see out of the 2nd Narrows, I'm not really sure. Beyond the two main sets of narrows, there is a rest area at about the 4 km mark (or halfway point). There were a few hikers relaxing at the rest area hut. During our hike (which was 3 1/2 hours long), we only came across a few other groups of hikers. It was probably good that we started in the afternoon and thus avoided potentially large morning crowds from bus groups. We passed by the rest area without stopping, but shortly thereafter Stefan wanted to get out of his carrier and play with rocks for awhile. Once we continued, we passed through more forest scenery and eventually came to one of the highlights of Imbros Gorge -- Xepitira Gate. Xepitira Gate is a massive natural bridge which takes the shape of an angled column off of the right side canyon wall. It was neat to arrive at this spectacular natural feature and have it all to ourselves for 20 minutes. We spent the time taking photographs and examining Xepitira Gate in closer detail. Once another group finally arrived, we departed and let them enjoy it in peaceful tranquility. The final section of canyon beyond has outstanding views looking out into the Libyan Sea. The walls of the gorge began getting shallower and shallower until they finally disappeared near the end of the hike. Gary was waiting for us as we arrived back on pavement. After enjoying a cold beer and sharing our experiences with him, we drove back up the steep mountain road and headed to Chania. Looking back, I can definitely say that Imbros Gorge was one of my favorite hikes because it had some of the best slot narrows, it had Xepitira Gate natural bridge, and it was a family hike. Those who hike Imbros Gorge may also want to research some of its history as there were a number of military battles and events that took place within its walls and in the surrounding areas during the 1800s and most recently in 1941. In May of 1941, Allied forces retreated through the gorge after they lost the Battle of Crete. Some were evacuated at Chora Sfakion while others were captured by the Germans before they could escape the island. The hike is 5 miles long with an elevation change of over 2,000 feet depending on which path down into the gorge you choose as your starting point. Our hike took place on September 4, 2014.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT