Crete’s new National road is yet to be completed between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia. It does take a bit more time to get to the East coast, as you will go up and down the Lasithi Plateau. A few air spin curbs will make your journey even more exciting. Once you reach Sitia, you are about 35 km from Zakros. Before you head South, you should definitely consider a 2-3 hour stay at Vaï beach for its beauty and natural palm trees.
As you reach the secluded village of Zakros, you’ll start realizing the beauty of this isolated area. A final 7 km stretch awaits before entering the bay of Kato Zakros. Once you start your final descent, this feels like where the road ends.
The fourth largest Minoan settlement
Kato Zakros holds one of the most important Minoan settlements on the Island. 5000 years of history lie in front of you. The site consists of the Minoan palace and the town itself developed on two hills. More than 35 houses have been excavated and a paved stone road led to the port where its harbor became a center of trade with the countries of the Middle East, Egypt and Cyprus. Many large objects were unearthed confirming the prosperity of these trade relations. The settlement was destroyed around 1450 B.C., simultaneous with the destructions of most Minoan settlements in Crete.
The Dead Man’s Gorge
This region is frequented mostly by Europeans that seek the beauty of nature, far away for everyday tourists. The beach offers tranquility and is beautifully protected as it sits between two massive rock cliffs. The view is breathtaking.
There are several paths available for hikers of all levels. The most intriguing one would be the “Dead Man’s gorge. Walking through the canyon, you can decide to take the climb all the way to village of Zakros. You may encounter the “spirits of the dead Minoans” as you walk your way through it. Once buried in some of the caverns, their presence can be heard as the wind whistles through reaching the sound barrier.
Another beautiful path along the coastline goes north towards a secluded cave called “Pelekita”. The depth of the cave is impressive, and the access limited to a short descent. Fairly unexplored, it takes a good hour to 90 minutes to reach it. Hiking shoes are required in this area. It is an easy walk through a designated path and you do need to be careful as you walk along the side of the cliff where crystal clear blue turquoise water hits the side of the rocks.
Eating fish, enjoying nature
Along the beach, there are 5-6 tavernas to eat. Most are quite good. The perfect setting to enjoy quality fresh fish. I like “Glaros” for its hospitality and genuine home cooking offered by Andreas and Georgios. I’ve stayed here twice now. I would suggest a minimum of 3-4 nights. To relax and enjoy the simplicity of nature, food, hiking and swimming. Stella’s studios are a great option. Private, well-equipped and an enchanting setting with flower beds, stone based decor and relics of Cretan work tools add a touch of authenticity.
As your stay concludes in this quaint paradise far away from the routine of everyday life, you finally get to appreciate why this is where the road ends…
By Patrick Hadsipantelis