Discover the plateaus of central Crete and ancient paths rich in diverse flora and fauna. Ride over the beautiful mountains, stop in idyllic little towns and see the birthplace of Zeus. The jeep safari is driving 4×4 vehicles on forest trails, with the necessary accompaniment of leading jeep. The mountains of Crete are a great opportunity for those who like adventure and off-road driving
|RETURN TIME||+/- 8 hrs
|WEAR||Sport/Casual wear. We strongly suggest wearing comfortable sturdy shoes. Sunscreen, hat and water are also good “travel companions”.|
We drive through the western side of eastern Crete Dikti or the Lassithi Mountains, a range with many peaks, the highest being the anonymous “2148”. The well – known plateau of Lassithi (402 sq. km.) spreads out between the peaks.
The river crossing, the route on forest roads, visits to houses, monasteries and all the attractions that are on the way, with a variety of routes in lush vegetation and breathtaking landscapes provide a unique experience in a place where the mountain meets the sea ,the story of the legend and the culture with tradition.
1st half part of the Safari :
- Start from the Safari meeting point.
The Jeep Safari will drive you through Potamies Village
The village of Potamies lies within an idyllic landscape with luxuriant vegetation, surrounded by vineyards, orange and olive-groves, at an altitude of 170metres. Spreading over the verdant valley of the river Aposelemis, which sources from the Lassithiotika Mountains disemboguing in the northwestern coasts, it is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque villages of Heraklion. The village Sfentili belonged to its older community.
- Photo stop at the sunken village Sfendili
The fifteen remaining residents of the village Sfendili, Crete in Greece live without electricity and water as their village is slowly being covered by water because of a dam built in the area 14 years ago. The village is located in the reservoir dam, under the filling level and it is gradually being flooded with water. The foundation of the village dates back to 1577. It is a medieval village with a long history and rich culture. Within the village, there is a Byzantine church from the 14th century with impressive fresco’s.
- Olive oil tasting & free time at Avdou village
Avdou village lies deep in the Cretan inland, right at the foot of the Lassithi plateau mountain range… Avdou lies deep in the middle of the “Lagada” valley, 33 km from the city of Heraklion, with about 600 inhabitants. The earliest recorded reference to “Avdou” is in 1381, in a Venetian state document stating the area as a benefice belonging to Michel Quirino. Excavations in the area unearthed a building with mosaics, probably part of an extensive complex of an early-Christian basilica. The village is dotted with frescoed Byzantine churches. Near the Avdou settlement there are two caves, Faneromeni and Haghia Fotini , where archaeologists found artifacts dating back to the Neolithic period, in Minoan Crete when they were probably used as worship grounds.
- Drive to Lassithi Plateau
Lassithi Plateau is one of the few areas in the Mediterranean with permanent inhabitants at an altitude over 800 metres. Lassithi plateau is 11 kilometres on the east-west axis and 6 kilometres on the north-south – an area of 25 square kilometres. Dikteon Andron, the cave where Zeus was born, is located here. The plateau is famous for its white-sailed windmills, (more accurately, wind-pumps), a local invention that have been used for two centuries to irrigate the land. Despite their vast number (some 10,000) in the past, most of them have been abandoned nowadays in favour of modern diesel and electrical pumps depriving Lassithi of its unique identity. However, there is much renewed interest in the restoration of the windmills, which would bring back the picture of the Lassithi Plateau as it once was.
- Panoramic photo stop of Lassithi Plateau
- Panoramic photo stop of North Crete
2nd half part of the Safari :
- Drive through Kastamonitsa & Lyttos village
Kastamonitsa is 7 km away from Kasteli, has 356 inhabitants and lies at 520 m above sea level, in the foothills of the Afendi mountain (1578 m), with the Dikti mountain in the background.
The village is not mentioned in the Venetian registers of the 16th and 17th centuries, nor in the Turkish census of 1671. It is possible that the name is related to that of Kastamoni in Asia Minor: refugees, driven out of their land by the Turks, may well have come and settled here, giving their new home the same name as their old one. But it is impossible to establish a precise date.The location of the village on the way to the natural fortress of the Lassithi plateau which protects all of Eastern Crete, turned the area into a battlefield during the last century.
According to the historian Polybius, Lyttos or Lyktos, is one of the oldest cities in Crete, famous in ancient times for the excellency of its men. The site is to the NE of present day Lyttos, also known as Xidas. At 656 m above sea level, among the ancient ruins, two churches have been built, that of Timios Stavros and that of Aghios Giorgos. According to Stefanos Byzantios, Lyttos owes its name to its location on the western foothills of the Lassithi mountains. Hesiod mentions Lyttos in his Theogonia as a rich city in Crete, and Homer qualifies her as ‘well-built’.
- Lunch at a traditional taverna in Kastelli village
In the 1583 census, the village is mentioned as ‘Pediada proprio’ with 543 inhabitants. The castle that gave its name to the village was located on the small hill where the school (Gymnasium) of Kasteli stands nowadays. Kasteli played a leading role as the county town of the province of Pediada. It was the commercial centre of that area and its important market attracted villagers from all around who came to sell their products. The market survives to this day and takes place every Wednesday along the town’s main thoroughfare. Kasteli also played an important intellectual role in the area and its school provided education to all the children of the region, including the ones of the Lassithi plateau.
- Visit of the Skotino Cave (St.Paraskevi Cave)
The Skotino cave is one of the largest and more impressive caves among the many caves found in Crete.The cave lies high on a hill northwest of the village of Skotino, a few kilometers inland south of Gouves. It is also known as Agia Paraskevi cave from the church dedicated to Saint Paraskevi built on top of it. The cave is 160 meters deep and 36 meters wide. The first archaeological examination on the site were carried out by Arthur Evans, the well-known British archaeologist who unearthed and partially restored Knossos in the early 20th century. A more comprehensive exploration was carried out by French and Greek archaeologists in the 1960s. They found a considerable number of bronze and ceramic votive offerings, the oldest of them dating from the earliest Minoan periods, suggesting the cave was an important sacred shrine dedicated to a female fertility deity, presumably Britomartis. The cave was still used in Classical Greek and Roman eras, when the fertility goddess Artemis or her Roman equivalent Diana replaced the Minoan deity.
- Swimming stop at Gouves sandy beach
- End of our tour at Safari meeting point.