The Safari Experience
You may not remember all the names, but you will certainly remember the local experiences of this Cretan Safari
With guidance from one of the best Safari Clubs, you will get an approximate feeling for the size of the island as well as the diversity it holds within its environment, but most importantly, you will enjoy experiences and memories of Crete that you won’t easily forget.
There is nothing quite like learning (hands on) about making the famous local goat-cheese early in the morning. Meeting a local family and getting a taste of the small farm experience as well as the cheese, has to be a ‘must’ when visiting the island!
The deserted village of Sfendili which is located in the Aposelemi Dam, has been dubbed the Cretan Atlantis and Instagram enjoys a wide variety of photos taken there. The eerie sight of rooftops from the village poking out of the water against a green backdrop, creates a magical feeling of wonder. The village is mentioned in papers dating back to the 1500’s while the Dam construction was completed recently in 2012. It is now a reservoir of water coming from the Lassithi mountains (yes, the mountains are snowed in during the winter months!) and serves as a manmade wetland.
The two nearest villages to the Aposelemi Dam are Potamies and Avdou. Upon arrival to Avdou, it is obvious that this humble village of approx. 300 residents hides a rich cultural history with roots in Minoan times and major influences from the Byzantine era. Locals are very hospitable and during the summer months, countless local festivals (known locally as ‘panigyria’) take place with live music and abundant food.
The Embassa gorge (also known as Apotiposi) has been linked to the Virgin Mary and is approx. 2km in length. While oak trees visually dominate the landscape, the wide variety of Cretan herbs is what tickles ones nostrils with the many different unique scents.
Lasithi Plateau is home to the famous Cave of Zeus (also known as Dikteon Andron), located at an altitude of over 1km and situated just above the village of Psychro. Legend has it that Rea gave birth to Zeus there to keep him safe from Kronos, whose habit involved eating his children. The walk up to the cave takes approx. 15mins and offers amazing spots to stop and take panoramic photos of the view to the plateau and its 18 little villages. Most of the findings from the cave are now found in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion but the cave itself boasts clusters of stalactites and stalagmites, remnants of buildings and for the wildlife enthusiasts: various species of bats!
Climbing a little higher one finds Limnakaro Plateau which used to be used extensively for farming but is now mostly famous for its walnuts. Descending from there, one finds Kera village. It is known best for the Monastery of Kera (dating back to the 9th century) and the Karfi mountain top towering over the village, where traces of Minoan and pre-Hellenic civilisations have been found. The traditional food served at the family tavern is a perfect reflection of the good quality ingredients coupled with the local ways of cooking – such as in the slow, wood burning oven!
Visiting Krasi village is also an experience to remember. Splash your face in the cool running water of the springs that lie in the shade of the legendary 2400 year old plane tree. A village of tradition and a hotspot for the artistic minds – it is known that writer Nikos Kazantzakis (among others) spent several summers in this place, quite possibly in the shade of that very same tree.
Most cretan excursions in the area will take you through the village of Mochos which is well known for the multitude of churches in its vicinity and the extensive festivities held in the square for the 14th and 15th of August (Assumption of the Virgin Mary). Live music bursts through the buildings and everyone joins in the traditional dancing.