Kalogeros beach

The only written references I’ve seen to the Kladou Gorge, west of Samaria and Agia Roumeli, which originates below the summit of Kokinovari, 1694m and ends at Domata beach, advise never to attempt a descent without a guide, for – “ this is one of the most dangerous and inaccessible gorges of Crete ” – and I’ve never met anyone who has done even that.

At Agia Roumeli


My friend Andreas Stavroudakis from the Calypso Hotel in Agia Roumeli, who knows the area as well as anyone, suggested a walk of 1 to 1.5 hours from the coast, saying the limit of exploration was on reaching a vertical and unassailable wall at Letzara. Another reference insists “the only way to see part of this natural sculpture is to walk upside down (sic !) from the beautiful beach Domata.”

Domata from above


Domata is a strenuous four-hour walk from Agia Roumeli (see Explore ! June 2017) but only 5 km (and much flatter) by kayak, which is how we arrived there. It took us an hour, passing several ‘Spilies sto Marmaro’ – small marble caves – then the attractive strand of Fournoti beach. This is home to the rare and endemic “hypericum aciferum” plant, and also several tiers of bee-hives ;I once landed to search for the flower, but made a rapid exit, pursued by bees … The Mediterranean here is the Libyan, or South Cretan Sea, a vast expanse stretching to North Africa ; sitting in a single 4.5-metre sea kayak always brings to mind the Breton fishermen’s prayer for safety – “the sea is so wide, and my boat is so small …”

The sea is so wide


Rounding Cape Kalotrividis, we drifted through brilliantly clear turquoise waters, stretched legs at Kalogeros, then paddled on the short distance to Domata.

Domata beach


Behind the shingle beach is an area of soft dark sand, and above that the vertical wall of conglomerate rock, topped by pine trees, gazed at, admired and photographed by thousands of ferry passengers, though few will ever come here. A projecting slab gave us protection from the sun and any possible winds, and a short “siesta” before the next part of our expedition.

At Domata


As the afternoon cooled, we set off into the Kladou Gorge.

Kladou Gorge


Intially wide and boulder-strewn, with no path or way-marks, in twenty minutes it narrowed, then widened again, then became narrower still, to just a few metres across, with some easy “scrambling” necessary in places.

Gorge narrows ..


Steep walls towered above us, as impressive as any gorge in Crete, pine trees clinging impossibly to sheer faces.

and narrower ..


After 1.5 hours, at c. 600m, with Kokinovari peak high above us, we turned round without reaching the 150m rock wall at Letzara, which may have been ten minutes away … or an hour or more ….

Descending, we collected quantities of rain-washed pine logs, which together with driftwood from the beach made for a pleasant evening by the fireside, with reminiscences from days gone by (and some ‘raki’ ..) ensuring a reasonably comfortable night under the stars.



Possibly the raki, but Neverland was just visible .. “second star to the right, and straight on til morning ….”

We woke early to a perfect dawning – “ Up from the eastern sea, soars the delightful day …”

Up from the eastern sea ..

Housman at his best. Leisurely English breakfast tea with boiled eggs, then back afloat, and unhurriedly along the coast, past little Sedoni beach to land at Tripiti, and visit tiny Ag. Nikolaus chapel and the Evacuation Memorial (see Explore ! – May 2018)

Nearing Sougia


Getting ashore at Agios Antonios (Hareis) proved too difficult, the rocky harbour there intended for small craft rather than low-in-the-water kayaks, so we continued on west into Sougia. Time there for late lunch at a favourite cafe, then relax and swimming whilst waiting for the “Samaria” to return us to Paleochora, arriving there soon after seven o’clock in the evening, having filled the previous unforgiving thirty-six hours with full distance exploring, along a spectacular part of Crete’s southern coastline.


A Decade Of Explore! Contest Winner

Last month we celebrated 10 years or Explore! with a contest.

We asked people to solve a cryptogram puzzle. This was the sentence to be decrypted


The answer, of course was “Sandy beach or pebble beach, the choice is yours”

The lucky winner, picked at random is…

Catherine Dawson of Otley, UK.


Congratulations to Catherine! A Crete puzzle book will be on it’s way to you.

If anyone wants to get hold of the Bumper Crete Holiday Puzzle Book, it is available to order from Amazon here:

>> Click here to order on Amazon








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Well, time certainly does fly by! This blog first came to life in June 2009. Since then, Bob has taken us on many journeys around Paleochora (and a bit further afield on occasion, too).

The blog is read each month by thousands of people spread all across the globe. It is always a joy to read the comments (on here and social media), read the emails and even meet readers while they are visiting Paleochora.

So to celebrate a decade of Explore! we decided to have a contest (a bit like we do every Christmas). Often this has taken the form of a Paleochora themed puzzle. These have proved the most popular of all  so, if you want to enter and win this 10 year anniversary contest, you will have to get your puzzling brain into gear

The prize for the lucky winner will be a copy of a new Crete-themed puzzle book* with loads of brain teasers you can attempt while sitting on the beach, during siesta time or even when you are at home and you want to be “transported back” to Paleochora.

Here’s how the contest works. Coded messages have always been important on Crete during it’s resistance to it’s many occupations. To enter this contest, you will need to solve a cryptogram – a Paleochora themed sentence written in a code where all the letters of the alphabet have been transposed (for example, A=G, B=Z etc.). Don’t worry, you will get a hint – but only one – to start you on your way.

We have chosen one of the easiest cryptogram puzzles from the book for this contest and many of you will get it solved in no time at all but here are some tips from an experienced puzzler to give you a bit of a boost…

Tips: Copy the coded sentence onto a sheet of paper or print it out using the link below (trying to figure it out on a screen will send you a little mad). Look for very short words, especially if they are repeated. Look for double letters in words. Try things out – if you think you can “see” a word, you can test your assumption by changing the letters that you have uncovered in that word to where they appear in other words. Don’t give up!

Before we get to the puzzle, here are the terms and conditions and legal stuff.

The contest closes at 23:59 (Paleochora time) on Friday 5th. July 2019
Only one entry per household.
One winner will be picked at random at the end of the contest and will be notified by email and in July’s blog post.
The contest is free to enter.
*The winner will receive a printed copy of the prize book unless they are in a region where Amazon do not ship KDP physical books or if the cost of shipping is prohibitively expensive. If that is the case, the prize will be a free copy of the Paleochora Explore! ebook instead.
There are no cash alternatives to the prizes.
Your information (name email, address) will only be stored for the duration of the contest and will be deleted when a winner is declared.

Ok – here is the puzzle

Decypher this sentence…


Your single hint is…

Click here to get this puzzle on a printable page

When you have unjumbled the sentence, simply enter the contest by filling in this form…

The answer (and the winner) will be revealed in the July article. Get your entry in before midnight on Friday 5th July – Happy puzzling!

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