Samaria Gorge is situated in the White Mountains of western Crete. The gorge has been designated a National Park since 1962 and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1981.
The gorge lies in a mountainous limestone area holding 16 habitats listed in the European Habitats Directive 1992, of which 7 are priority (Spanos I. Platis P. Meliadis I. Tsiontis A., 2008). It runs for 13km (+ additional 2km) dropping from the Omalos Plateau at a height of 1250m and reaching the Libyan Sea at Agia Roumeli on the southern coast of Crete.
The historic landscape holds evidence of 6000yrs of human habitation (Rackam O. 2008). The last of its residents - apparently two elderly women (anecdotally) - were moved out of the gorge by the Greek government when it became a National Park in 1962.
Capra aegagrus cretica
A major tourist attraction and hill-walkers destination, the gorge is managed by limited seasonal access, and strict controls on tourist activity within the boundaries (no camping, fires, access other than marked pathway, warden controlled). Access currently costs €5 and ticket numbers are monitored to ensure that all walkers have passed through on a daily basis.
Rackham O., 2008. Ancient woodlands: modern threats. New Phytologist. Vol 180(3) November 2008. [Online] Available at:
Spanos I. Platis P. Meliadis I. Tsiontis A., 2008. A review on the ecology and management of the Samaria Gorge, a Greek biosphere reserve. Journal of Geography and Regional Planning Vol. 1(2), April, 2008). [Online] Available at:
Unesco MAB Biospheres Reserve Directory [Available Online] at: http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/biores.asp?mode=all&code=GRE+01