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The Gorge of Samaria lies on the southern side of Chania prefecture and is a wonderful place for hikers. Visitors from all over the world attempt trekking at this gorge. In 1962, Samaria Gorge had been declared a National Park for the survival of the endangered species kri-kri, the rare Cretan wild goat that lives only in Samaria. Apart from the kri-kri, many other endemic and rare species of flora and fauna live in this gorge. The length of this gorge is 16 km and it is said to be the longest gorge in Europe. It has been created by a river that runs between the enormous White Mountains and Mount Volakias. The gorge begins below the northern side of Omalos Plateau and ends in the shores of the Lybian Sea, at the village of Agia Roumeli, where visitors cool off with a dip in the refreshing waters.
The cave of Lera is developed in Mount Vardies, at an altitude of 70m. This cave is visible from Zorbas Beach Village Hotel.
Excavations by K. Davaras certified its use from the Neolithic to the Byzantine period, with the important findings being the inscriptions of the Classical period mentioning the worship of god Pan and the Nymphs. It consists of an “antechamber” and four rooms with chiselled cavities. In the background, there is the natural spring of water known as “Lake” (Limni). Its first room is formed by a large plateau. On its right side, there are three carved niches where the tributes, statues or the clay plates were placed with some representations.
The first chamber of the cave is divided in the middle by two stalagmite columns. Between tall columns, a narrow passage with carved stairs leads to the main worship area with a pond known as Limni (lake). Around the basin with the clear water and at the base of the stalagmites, the Minoans placed their offerings to the nymph of the cave. There are beautiful columns and stalagmites with an impressive angel wing-like stalagmite.
The choice of Stavros for the shooting of the legendary film Zorbas by Michalis Kakogiannis with Alan Bates and Anthony Quinn in 1963 and 1964 brought the Hollywood taste to the picturesque harbour. The cave Lera then played the role of the lignite mine, and it seems that the men of Anthony Quinn carried out the first excavations. In 1959-1961, the French archaeologist Paul Faure carried out some first informal excavations and in 1966 the was officially excavated. The official excavations revealed many clay figurine heads, female figures seated on a throne, vases parts (some in black), a black clay figurine (about 10 cm) where fingerprints of the creator were still visible, Late Minoan, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic pottery sherds that reveal the constant use of the cave.
source: Lera Cave at Stavros – Travel Guide for Island Crete, Greece cretanbeaches.com
The Botanical Park of Chania is one of the most impressive attractions in Crete thanks to its wide variety of plants, herbs and animals. It is located in the Cretan White Mountains (Omalos), 20km away from the noisy town, and occupies an area of 20 hectares with plants that originate from three completely different climates; Mediterranean, Tropical, and Temperature. The Park somehow revived the area after a big fire that had broken out in 2004 and which destroyed every kind of plant. Now, the Botanical Park is full of Mediterranean trees, vineyards, and aromatic herbs that enchant the visitor.
This adventure in nature follows paths of unique natural beauty and provides visitors with the opportunity to get acquainted with the numerous different plants and trees that grow on the two hundred square kilometers of the well-designed planted hillside. The lush landscape is completed by the lake in the lower part of the part, offering accommodation and protection to ducks, geese and other water birds (and rare species), even to hawks that fly in the area. An excursion to the Park is highly educational and entertaining for both children and their parents as they learn much new information on the flora and fauna of the Cretan climate.
A stone amphitheater next to the gardens and the olive orchards, host some events, like traditional dance nights and weddings. Beyond gardens and animals, a good reason to visit the Botanical Park is its Restaurant that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the lush dense vegetation from its big balcony. The Restaurant’s menu is “à la carte” and also based on the Mediterranean Cuisine, while herbs, fruits, and seeds from the gardens are used in the recipes. If you would like to bring some Cretan flavors back to your country when you return from your trip, you can buy some local products (such as raki, and virgin Greek oil) from the Park’s shop.
Limnoupolis Water Park
This water park offers fantastic rides, slides and water fun. Limnoupolis is located in a green, scenic area which sets it apart from many other parks of its kind which are often devoid of vegetation. There’s crazy rides, mellow rides, a play area for kids, a Jacuzzi and even a video game area. A rope suspension bridge passes over the main pool to an artificial island in the middle.
Limnoupolis provides fun and excitement for people of all ages as they splash around in this wonderful water park. Pump up the adrenaline and have hours and hours of fun on the exciting and thrilling waterslides, or simply relax by the pools and enjoy the sunshine. There are 11 different slides/pools and activities – something for everyone whatever your age and some are designed to test your nerves to the limit!
When you feel you’ve had enough excitement for the day you can always just relax and enjoy food and drink in one of the restaurants or bars. Other facilities include showers and changing rooms, lockers, first aid, and free parking.
We provide tickets for Limnoupolis Water Park at the reception desk.
Lake Kournas is the only lake with fresh water in Crete. It is situated in a magnificent location, just 4km away from Georgioupolis Chania. It is a remarkable destination for an afternoon walk or a day trip. The relaxing and beautiful landscape is ideal for nature lovers.
In Lake Kournas, there are two fountains with only one of them being visible, especially during the end of the summer: the Eye, as the locals call the fountain. This natural lake was created by the holdback of the underwater that comes from the White Mountains, the resistant rocks and the lie of the natural cavity.
Lake Kournas is an important part of the Greek ecosystem, as it is one of the few areas in Crete where there is abundant freshwater throughout the year. This is one of the reasons that the Lake Kournas is a protected area by the Natura 2000 Network. The lake is surrounded by a greenery environment with rare plants and trees.
Lake Kournas is a favorite destination for both locals and tourists. It is the ideal location for a relaxing walk around the transparent water of the lake. On the one side of the lake, there are cafeterias and taverns, offering a remarkable view of the lake. You can swim in the magnificent small beaches with white sand, located next to the cafeterias. Also, visitors can do pedals here to explore the lake.