If you are looking for outdoor activities, then you could not find a more exciting location than Lasithi. The region provides outstanding natural attractions and a broad diversity of experience. Less populated and with fewer roads, this remote region is less touristed when the traveler ventures from the major resorts, and it therefore rewards visitors with a refreshing sense of discovery and adventure.
The heart of the Lasithi experience is the vast Sitia Geopark, and area covering over 360 square kilometers. The areas intense dry heat as well as its proximity Asia Minor has resulted in a diversity of ecosystems, some of them unique. It is a haven for migratory birds and land mammals. And the seas host three species of dolphin (the common, the bottlenose, and the striped) as well as the beloved protected monk seal (monachus monachus). The caretta caretta sea turtle – another protected species – nests in the sands of Vai and other beaches.
There are glorious hiking trails throughout Lasithi for hikers of every level of skill and stamina.The Richtis Gorge is just one of many excellent hiking routes. Another is the Orino Gorge, near Ierapetra, which also has a splendid waterfall. The Xerokambos gorge ends in a spectacular beach, and the Toplou gorge, which begins near the monastery of the same name, is known for its lushness, variety of trees, and an abundance of small lakes. The 16 and a half kilometer footpath starting in Ziros and following the gorge of the dead of the Minoans ends in Kato Zakros and is part of the European E4 trail. These are only a few of the many spectacular hiking trails in eastern Crete.
In stunning scenery such as this, it’s hard to imagine going underground. And yet, Lasithi is a fantastic caving destination. An hour’s hike from Kato Zakros – or a 15-minute boat ride – lead you to the Pelekiton Cave, known for its size, large chambers, and magnificent rock formations. Milatos cave, near a village of the same name, is rich not only in speleological interest but also historic, having been a site of heroism and sacrifice during the Cretan revolution. Most famous of all the caves is the Dikteon Cave, at an elevation of over 1000 meters on the Lasithi plateau. Besides being an extraordinary sight of natural beauty – including many chambers, stalactites, stalagmites, and even a lake – this is an important mythological site.
Dikteon cave is one of two caves on Crete (the other is the Ideon Cave on Mt. Psiloritis) that legend has as the birthplace of Zeus. Here, his mother Rhea hid the infant Zeus to protect him from his father, Cronus, who devoured his children. Owing to its tremendous significance, this was a site of sacred rituals in the Ancient World.
With the family-run stables of Fourni horses, riders of every skill level can explore the glorious countryside of eastern Crete, riding through groves and even past the ruins of a monastery. Whole day excursions – including a barbecue in the wilds – offer tranquility and adventure in equal measure.