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Advanced Cretan White Mountain Trekking

May 27 - June 6



There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.        – Beverly Sills


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Program Details

Crete’s White Mountains, or Lefka Ori, form a legendary massif.  They rise swiftly from the western island’s north shore, plateau across a treeless, alpine moonscape pockmarked with 150 square kilometers of volcanic ash-cones, scree fields and sinkholes, and then plummet through forests, into gorges, and down a series of sheer cliffs into the Libyan Sea.  Ironically, the area’s highest summit (Pachnes), deepest gorge (Samaria), and most popular trail (E4) are closely supported by auto access, and are popular tourist destinations.

The purpose of this program, however, will be to explore the more difficult, less accessible, most beautiful reaches of the area; to stretch skills and stamina; and to earn the area’s respect with a traverse from east to west across the entire range.  This retreat is a great opportunity for fit and experienced hikers who yearn to explore for the first time one of Europe’s most dynamic trekking environments; or for those returning to the area but yearn to explore beyond the typical routes of earlier visits.  By necessity the itinerary will intersect occasionally across those typical routes, but its predominant priority will be to veer off, to take trails less trekked, and to reach the peaks, gorges and forests few footsteps have found before.  Trails will range up to 17km and 1,000 vertical meters per day, include steep slopes, steep descents, and difficult footings.  Participants should be prepared for sections where safety is critical, and respect for the mountain paramount.*

And yet, while program participants must be capable of embracing the challenge of wilderness walking, the program, not the participants, will take on the challenge of wilderness logistics.  Technical trail sections, camping, even unmanned refuge stays have all been avoided.  Instead, all nights will be spent in lodges and pensiones with excellent dinners upon our arrival and full breakfasts the next morning.  There will be two days of strategically scheduled pauses—in both a lovely mountain village and seaside town—where great out & return hikes or rest and relaxation will be available.

Most importantly, the entire program will be led by experienced and certified guides with excellent local knowledge and long histories walking the very trails we’ll traverse.  And CDR will provide logistical support in case of weather or other emergencies; transportation for the one leg across an area too populated and paved to be of interest; and finally, transfers at our area airport, both to the trek’s starting point on the Askifou Plateau, and from the trek’s closing leg at the coastal village of Sougia .

In short, like all CDR’s retreats, this program will provide and support an opportunity to exceed your experience, extend yourself, and enjoy that process with a team of others enjoying the same.

*Note: If you seek more moderate trail experiences, we offer a challenging but less intense itinerary via our “Cretan Coastal Treks” retreat and several light-hiking/walking retreats under our Trails to Tavernas banner.

Program Length: 9 Days, 10 Nights

Minimum Participants (for program confirmation): 6 by March 13th.

Maximum Participants: 16

Lodging Venues & Options:  Lodgings will be at local guest houses and pensiones that cater to hiking guests; all with standard rooms at double occupancy.  (Anopoli might demand some rooms shared with extra occupancy.)

Participant Requirements:  Participants must be in excellent physical condition, without known health issues that are likely to demand evacuation from non-accessible locations; and possess an experienced ability to walk steep trails over long distances and across a series of days.

Should this ability be misrepresented and the participant fail to demonstrate a capacity to continue in a manner that does not harm the retreat’s general progress, the guides and/or CDR reserve the right to protect the remaining retreat and remove the participant, refunding only that portion of their fees reflecting the lost time.  If you have any doubts about your capacity to enjoy the retreat, contact us, and we’ll do our best to ensure that the retreat is indeed a good fit.

Equipment Needed:  In addition to personal items, footwear and other standard gear needed to successfully traverse difficult terrain over multiple days, participants are expected to bring & carry:

  • Personal first-aid kit, including an emergency blanket, whistle and compass.
  • Sleeping bag (summer bag is fine; we will spend each night indoors.)
  • Backpack appropriately framed for continuous hiking, sized to carry above items, chosen personal items, and up to 3 liters of water.

Weather & Clothing:  This retreat includes seasides at a time of year likely to be warm enough for shorts & swimming; and high-altitude hikes that will have high risks of cold, rain and significant wind.  It is assumed that anyone participating in this retreat has experience in such climates under similar circumstances and will make safe clothing/gear choices appropriate to the conditions described above.  If you have any questions, just contact us and we’ll confirm or clarify your decisions.

Supplements & Discounts Available:

  • $50 Group Signup Discount. (5% per person for every group of 3 or more who sign up together.)

Payment Currency: $USD$


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May 27
June 6
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