Walk like a Minoan: hiking and foraging in eastern Crete – The Guardian

Like swirling paper scraps from a bonfire, the charcoal-winged vultures circled high overhead. When I imitated a lamb’s bleat they circled closer, stretching their massive wings and craning long wrinkled necks. The bone-white rocks of the Gorge of the Dead was a fitting backdrop for these pterodactyl-like birds – I could have been in a scene from Jurassic Park.

Named not for the hikers that have perished here (happily none has) but because it’s littered with caves where the Minoans once buried their dead, this seven-mile canyon – also called the Zakros gorge – is the end of the Cretan section of the ultra-long-distance E4 hiking route. The whole trail runs for more than 10,000km from Tarifa in Spain to Cyprus, but this island’s stretch starts 320km away in the north-western town of Kastelli-Kissamos and ends at the remote resort of Kato Zakros.

Crete map

My plan was to hike a bite-size 35km stretch of the E4 in reverse, from Kato Zakros, near the start of the gorge, to Vóri, a hamlet further south where I would catch a bus back to the port town of Sitia. Far from the doom and gloom of TV and social media and the stress of living in a Covid-stricken world, I would heal my soul – for a weekend, at least – by hiking through untamed landscapes and foragiing for food in one of the wildest corners of Crete.

Packing my old rucksack with fruit, drinking water and a bag of crumbly feta cheese, I set out in early December. Just over 300 nautical miles from Libya and on roughly the same latitude as Cyprus, eastern Crete is almost as warm as Andalucía in winter. In summer and autumn, soaring temperatures can make hiking sticky and unpleasant, but winter means temperatures around 20C, and the sun shining gently in a sky the colour of stone-washed denim.

The entrance to Zakros gorge. Photograph: Horizons WWP/Alamy

Leaving the vultures behind, I was soon deep inside the gorge, hiking on a slippery, …….

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2022/jan/06/zakros-gorge-hiking-and-foraging-in-crete

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