I’m always reluctant to reveal the locations of favourite places, and appalled when I see books and calendars entitled “Undiscovered Crete”, “Hidden Beaches of Crete” and the like, for secret they will be no longer. But I must tell you about the Kambos Gorge and Platanakia beach, and you must go there, soon, for reasons outlined below.
It’s 40km from Paleochora to the village of Kambos on Crete’s west coast, around an hour’s drive. Although it’s much longer should you stop for a fresh orange ‘ximos’ in Elos, a morning coffee in Kefali, and to take in the stunning views from the corniche road between there and Kambos. These extend to an uninhabited rock islet 20km distant, on a clear day to Antikythira island 50km away, and with the sea, breathtakingly, some 500m below.
Park in the platea at Kambos, where there is an information board, with map and photographs outlining the route.
This begins inauspiciously down a loose gulley, keeping left almost immediately to meet a wider track (note this point carefully for the return journey).
Follow the track, always heading downhill towards the gorge and coast, with yellow arrows pointing the way. When the sea comes into sight, turn right on a narrowing path, through a wire ‘gate’, and descend rather precarious wooden steps into the gorge itself.
A path runs alongside the stream, flowing until early summer, through another gate, to reach a picnic site. Here you must cross the stream, the path then taking you through the narrowest and most scenic part of the gorge before rising to join a rough track. Left now, re-crossing the stream to a ‘rest area’ with water source and (maybe) a toilet.
The track winds westwards, and soon Platanakia beach comes into view, still far below – frustratingly so as the rough road takes a circuitous loop, passing a small white chapel, to reach a plateau with animal feeding troughs and nearby ruined shepherds’ huts. Keep right here, heading back towards the gorge and beach.
In April this year the road soon ended, and a narrow footpath wound delightfully down to a deserted beach. But between then and September, someone (in their wisdom or folly) bulldozed a wide track, obliterating the footpath, all the way to the beach. Millions of years of unspoilt beauty desecrated in days, and part of Crete’s spectacular coastline destroyed for ever.
Go there soon, for by next summer there may well be a car-park, ‘cantina’, sun-beds and the aroma of suntan cream on a crowded beach. Go during the mild days and warm seas of autumn, or on a wild winter’s day with westerly waves crashing against the shoreline, and enjoy the solitude while it lasts.
Return to Kambos is by the same route, rising 300m from sea level to the village where, in season, there are a couple of tavernas. The distance each way is around 4km taking a leisurely hour and a half.
[important] This is Bob’s 50th article for Explore! I would just like to thank him for the hard work and dedication in bringing Crete to life for many. I know loads of people who have benefited from his walks and insights and also many who enjoy reading about the Cretan countryside and may never embark on a walk themselves. Wel done Bob!
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