The Samaria gorge of is situated in in the White Mountains in Western Crete. The area is a National park and is supervised by the Department of Forestry. The gorge is generally open from the beginning of May to the end of October, It is closed during the winter as heavy rain renders the gorge impassable. Even during the open season, if there is heavy rain, then the gorge may well be closed. The gorge is only open during the day so if you want to start walking in the afternoon you will only be allowed in up to a certain point. There are guards on duty, who will make sure that everybody who walks in also gets out before nightfall, so you will be asked to show your ticket when both entering and exiting the gorge, so they will hopefully know if anyone is left in the gorge at closing time.
The walk starts at the village of Omalos and ends on the coast, at the village of Agia Roumei, a total of about 16 kilometres. The most common way to walk the gorge is as part of an organized tour. By doing it this way, you will be picked up from and returned to your hotel. in an air conditioned coach, you will also have the benefit of a guide. Even as part of an organized tour, you will be able to walk the gorge on your own or just with your own companions, as all you will need to do is to meet up with the rest of your tour at a pre arranged time at the end of the walk in Agia Roumei, so everyone can walk it at their own pace. The gorge can be walked without much problem in about 4 hours, but by the time you have made some stops along the way to eat a packed lunch or just to stop, take some photographs and just enjoy the scenery, it might be safer to allow about 6 to 7 hours, after all its not a route march. The path through the gorge is quite good though you may find that the hardest part is the first 2 kilometres as the path slopes down quite steeply at the beginning.
At the end of the walk is the village of Agia Roumei, where you can have a drink, a meal, and if you wish, a refreshing swim, before catching a ferry to another small village along the coast, Chora Sfakion, where your coach will be waiting to take you back on a scenic drive back over the mountains to your resort. If you feel that the whole walk would be too much for you, then there is the option of catching a bus or taking a tour, that will take you by road to Chora Sfakion, from where you catch the boat to Agia Roumei and take the comparatively short walk up to the Iron Gates, returning to Agia Roumei for the boat trip back to Chora Sfakion.
Walking the gorge is very popular, and can become very busy at times. The best time to visit the gorge is in the Spring, the weather is cool and the vegetation this time of year is at its best. Remember when walking the Samaria gorge, that stout shoes or walking boots are advised, also ensure that you take some drinking water with you and a snack to eat. If doing the walk in hot weather, ensure that you wear a hat and take some sun tan lotion to protect you from the sun. With a little planning you could have a wonderful day, rather than a potentially arduous one. Nearing the end of the walk, you will come to the narrowest part of the Samaria gorge known as the "Iron Gates", from here you are about 3 kilometres from the village of Agia Roumei.