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When you travel to Plakias by bus you will just before the bus arrives in the Plakias bay drive through an impressive gorge. It is called "Kourtaliotiko Gorge". At it´s bottom is one of the few rivers on Crete that carries a big amount of crystal clear water even still at the end of a long hot summer.
What you can´t see from the bus are the massive springs and waterfalls at the bottom - so it´s worth to visit it for a closer look and an adventure hike.
We recommend to start from the center of the gorge at the chapel of Agios Nikolaos and walk down along or/and in the river to the palm forest and beach of Preveli. The hike will take about 4-5 hours.
A staircase is leading you down from the road to the chapel. A religious tale says that Agios Nikolaos was here when the gorge was vast and dry. To make a friend stay he hit the rocks with his hand - and at each of his finger tips a spring started to run.
Next to the chapel you will find the highest waterfall in the gorge. Boulder around at the springs and climb down to the little lake close by. From there you can swim to the bottom of the big waterfall.
From the lake the hike begins. Walk down in the river until you fnd the path next to it.
There are several opportunities for a shower under a pretty cold waterfall or for a dip in a pool formed by the river. And you might have to climb over rocks and you should not fear to get washed down by the river at sme places. Waterprotection for your camera or phone is highly recommended.
After about two hours you will pass the banana garden. A lovely greek hippie couple is growing a lot of exotic fruits in their garden and they offer juices from the fruits and some little snacks. A perfect paradise for a little break.
A few minutes further you will pass the "Gefira" - in some tourist guides also calles "venetian bridge", which is not quite true. It´s an old stome bridge but nly about 200 years old.
After the "Gefira" the rver becomes more spectaclular again as the gorge gets steeper and narrower.
In spring time it´s recomended to stay on a path on top of the gorge with a spectacular view from the top into the palm forest as the river might still be a bit too wild and dangerous at some spots - in summer and autumn it´s no problem to stay at the bottom of he gorge in the river and get washed down at some places. In this section a bit more climbing is required.
Finally you will arrive at the palm forest of Preveli and walk on an easy path to the beach. From there you can either take a boat to Plakias or walk up the stairs to the road where a bus to Plakias runs regulary in summertime.