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White Mountains | Chania Crete | The High Deserts

Updated: May 12


George Papadellis | SG Head

Lefka Ori (The White Mountains or The Madares) is a unique mountain range located in West Crete, in the area of Chania. The mountains consist mainly of limestone, with a light grey to black colour, and their name has been got from the white colour of their peaks. The White Mountain has rich history as a refuge for the heroic Cretans who fought against rulers of the history of Crete, such as the Venetians and the Ottomans, and also during the 2nd World War.

White Mountains  |  Shiny Greece

Photo by: iStock.com | Travel_Nerd

White Mountain Attractions

The highest White Mountain peak is named Pachnes (altitude: 2.453 m or 8.048 ft), which is also the second highest peak in Crete (after Psiloritis) and the tenth highest peak in Greece. The White Mountain has also more than 30 peaks over 2.000 m altitude, almost 50 gorges (Samaria Gorge is the most famous of all), at least 5 extraordinary plateaus at significant height (between 500 m and 1.000 m), namely Anopolis, Askifou, Impros, Kallikratis and Omalos, and the two caves of Greece with a depth larger than 1 Km, namely the Cave of the Lion and the Gourgouthakas cave. At the central and southern part of the White Mountains, the area is called the high desert because of the plateaus at 1.800 m, a unique moon-type landscape of the Earth's north helisphere.

The White Mountains  |  Shiny Greece

Photo by: Andloukakis, Ethnikos Drymos Samarias, CC BY-SA 4.0

Access to White Mountains

To access the White Mountains there are a number of itineraries and entrance points.

From the north: the road to Omalos, the entrance of Samaria Gorge

From the east: the road to Chora Sfakion

From the west: the road to Omalos from Sougia

From north-east: the road from Argyroupoli and the road from Frangokastello

Photo by: orestakoskaialexandroulini, Paxnesmall (2 of 16), CC BY-SA 4.0

White Mountains Refuges

The most recently built refuge is Svourichti (1994), with a capacity of 20 persons, at 1.980 m altitude.

The second most recent is Tavris (1992), with a capacity of 45 persons, at 1.200 m altitude.

The third refuge is Kallergi (1970), with a capacity of 45 persons, at 1.650 m altitude.

The oldest refuge is Volikas (1958), with a capacity of 30 persons, at 1.450 m altitude.

For bookings, you can contact the Greek Mountaineering Association of Chania.

White Mountains Map

White Mountains Map

White Mountains Trails

In scale of difficulty (easy, medium, hard, very hard), the trails of the White Mountains, according to topoguide.gr are:


Loutro - Finikas

Imbros Gorge


Poria - Agios Nikolaos

Zourva - Tromarissa Fountain

E4 Agia Roumeli - Sfakia

Samaria Gorge

E4 Kallergis - Katsivelis

Lakki - Omalos

Agia Irini Gorge

Gero Prinos - Volika

Agios Ioannis - Agia Roumeli

Aradena Gorge

Agios Ioannis - Marmara

Anopoli - Loutro

Anopoli - Marmara

Anopoli - Chora Sfakion

White Mountains

Photo by: 237603362 © Grzegorz Kordus | Dreamstime.com


Tromarissa - Poria

E4 Xyloskalo - Kallergi Refuge

E4 Xyloskalo - Koustogerako

Omalos - Kallergi Refuge

Lakki - Zourva

E4 Sougia - Agia Roumeli

E4 Koustogerako Sougia

Theriso - Katsiveli

Volika Refuge - Katsiveli

Agios Ioannis - Katsiveli

Anopoli - Pachnes

Katsiveli - Anopoli

E4 Katsiveli - Askifou

Very Hard

Elygia Gorge

Tromarissa Gorge

How to get there | Go to Chania Crete Page

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