Crete Hiking Retreat 2024 04-11 June 13-20 Sep
Embrace Life in Crete – a celebration for all senses
A few years ago, I discovered the small village of Sougia in Southwestern Crete. What can I say – this place stole my heart right away. It facilitates surrender to a deeper, slower rhythm. I let go on all levels and become one with the sea, the rocks, and the stars. I allow myself to just “be”. Surrounded by this landscape, I connect to a pristine wilderness and simplicity, healing for body, mind, and soul. Truly magical!
Can you smell the aromatic scent of wild thyme and oregano? Can you taste the Raki, the Nescafé frappé, and the olives? Do you hear the sea roaring and the mountain goats bleating? And the whispering of your soul?
Do you fancy hikes in wonderfully bleak, rough landscapes? Over plateaus dotted with flowering herbs and gnarled olive trees. Through adventurous gorges and dry riverbeds. Along magnificent coastal paths with breathtaking views. Over red earth, rock, and stone. The sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. And a song in your heart.
Are you longing for the chirping of the cicadas and the buzzing of the bees? And the whistling of the Meltemi? Do you love the bright pink of the bougainvillea? Are you dreaming of dozing in the shade of tamarisk trees and losing yourself in the glitter and glistening of the waves? Until eventually, all that you see are stars? And at night, the silver moon over the deep blue sea.
Tasting salt and freedom. Feeling life.
Sougia is a small, sleepy village on the coast in Southwestern Crete. In the Seventies, it was very popular with the hippies. It managed to keep this relaxed vibe until today. Sougia is known for its stunning natural beauty. The village is nestled between the Libyan Sea and the rugged mountains of the Lefka Ori (White Mountains), offering visitors a mix of both coastal and mountain landscapes. The area is lush and green, with plenty of hiking trails and opportunities for outdoor activities.
You won’t find any large hotel complexes, but mainly simple guesthouses, private rooms, and flats. Two mini-markets, a bakery, and a couple of excellent tavernas, cafés, and bars are available for the visitors. There is an ATM, but it does not work reliably – please bring enough cash. Please note that the village does not provide a pharmacy or petrol station.
Sougia boasts a beautiful pebble beach with crystal-clear waters. It is about 1.5 km long and mostly natural, making it an ideal place for relaxation, swimming, and snorkeling. Only a tiny section of the beach remains reserved for sun beds and umbrellas. The beach of Sougia has been awarded the “Blue Flag” for pristine water quality.
Sougia’s surrounding area is a hiker’s paradise. One can explore various hiking trails that lead into the White Mountains, including the famous Samaria Gorge. We do hikes to Lissos Bay, Agia Irini Gorge, Samaria, and other walks around Sougia. While exploring wild canyons, a valley with fascinating history, and trails along the stunning coastline, we get to enjoy breathtaking views. The hikes take between 1.5 – 6 hours.
You must be sure-footed and in good physical condition. Please note that it can be hot during the daytime. The trails are technically challenging to walk and not underestimated. They are similar to an Alpine terrain. Please be aware that the hikes are not suitable for beginners. If you have any doubts don’t hesitate to contact me beforehand.
Elevate your retreat experience with extra excursions providing a deeper insight into Cretan culture, environment, and traditions. Simultaneously, we actively support small local businesses in the Sougia area.
We visit a local beekeeper and learn about the art of Cretan honey production. Beekeeping in Crete is a longstanding and integral practice deeply intertwined with the island’s culture and economy. The significance of bees is evident in Cretan mythology and traditions, further emphasizing the importance of beekeeping in preserving both natural and cultural heritage on the island.
We explore a regional pottery workshop, where the craftsmanship is inspired by Minoan art. The artist informs us about this ancient civilization’s history, culture, and politics. Journeying into the past, we immerse ourselves in the ancient settlements of Elyros, Lissos, and Syia. The Minoan civilization, which flourished during the Bronze Age (circa 3000–1100 BCE), is considered one of the earliest and most sophisticated civilizations in the ancient Mediterranean. Named after King Minos, the Minoans left a significant mark on history, art, and culture.
Because of its remote, tranquil location, Sougia is “the place to be” for those seeking relaxation and appreciating the simple life. While enjoying the company of like-minded people, you also welcome space and time for yourself.
You like to be active as much as you appreciate unwinding on an endless beach, watching the waves go by, and reading your favorite books. Or simply doing nothing at all. You feel comfortable in wild, rugged landscapes. You look forward to the relaxed Greek way of life and, of course, Greek cuisine! Jámas!
Alongside our planned group dinners, immerse yourself in a night of stargazing and sound healing on the beach. The minimal light pollution ensures a spectacular view of the stars, including the prominent Milky Way. I’ll bring my speakers and a carefully selected playlist, and there might even be a surprise live act…
Tuesday: Arrival day; time to settle in and explore the area; dinner together in one of the excellent taverns to get to know each other and talk about the schedule.
Wednesday: After breakfast, a short hike to the ancient neighboring town of Lissos (approx. 1.5 h walking time one way). Time to discover the magic valley with its excavations like the remains of an ancient amphitheater, the ruins of the Asklepios temple with its beautiful tiled floor, a tiny church, and a 2400-year-old olive tree. Unwind at the remote Lissos beach for the rest of the day. A short boat ride back to Sougia.
Thursday: 2 gorges in one hike! Fun, fun, fun! Combining the remote Figou Gorge with the impressive Agia Irini Gorge (approx. 4 h walking time)
Friday: 2 options: visit Samaria* Gorge or do an alternative hike from Omalos to Sougia (walking time approx. 6 h) We decide on site. (full-day) Stargazing and sound healing on the beach (optional)
Saturday: Hike through a remote, hidden gorge. Rumour has it that it’s one of the rare places where we can still find Dittany, a protected, medicinal herb. After this hiking adventure, we dive into our first excursion experience**. Explore the secrets of ancient Minoan history, art, and culture at a local ceramics manufacturer. Listen to the mysteries of the old town of Elyros and other archaeological sites. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the artistry inspired by Minoan culture at the pottery workshop. Hiking time: approx. 3 h, excursion 1.5-2 h.
Sunday: Take a short boat ride to Lissos; hike to Anidri Beach (4 h walking time), spend some time at the golden sandy beach, hike through Anidri Canyon (1 h walking time) to a cozy tavern with excellent cuisine for late lunch/dinner. Back to Sougia (full-day)
Monday: Excursion** Yay!! We meet a local beekeeper and explore the world of beekeeping and the Cretan bees firsthand (approx. 1.5-2 hours). Beekeeping traditions in Crete produce high-quality honey, preserving cultural heritage. Bees are crucial for Crete’s ecosystem, playing a vital role in pollinating crops, supporting biodiversity, and contributing to the economy. Beyond their ecological importance, bees hold cultural significance in Cretan mythology and traditions. Protecting bee populations is essential for maintaining the balance of Crete’s environment and sustaining its agricultural and cultural practices. *Wear long trousers/sleeves and closed shoes. The beekeeper will provide professional equipment.*
Afternoon free, dinner together. Stargazing and sound healing on the beach (optional)
Tuesday: Departure – Goodbye Sougia! See you again next year!
*The itinerary is flexible and subject to change according to weather conditions, availability of transportation, the needs of the participants, etc. Sometimes, Samaria Gorge can be closed due to safety reasons. If this is the case, I offer an alternative hike of similar length.
**The excursions are subject to additional cost
June/September: Evenings bring a refreshing coolness, while daytime temperatures can rise significantly. The sea is still chilly/warm.
Minimum number of attendees: 4 / Maximum number of attendees: 10
The journey to Sougia alone is beautiful and adventurous. We head up to the mountain pass of the Omalos Plateau on winding country roads and down again to the coast via serpentines.
Past olive groves, orange plantations, and small villages where time seems to have stood still. Sometimes, the drive is interrupted by herds of goats and sheep calmly crossing the road.
There’s a diverse range available to suit every budget; feel free to reach out if you need guidance or assistance. I tested several accommodations over the years. I suggest making reservations through Sougia Accommodation, although you can also discover available rooms on platforms such as Booking, Viator, or Airbnb.
Organization, hosting, and guiding as described in the itinerary: € 425 per person (bank transfer). Payable in EUR. The customer is responsible for covering any transaction fees associated with payments. Prices are valid for payment via bank transfer. Payment with a credit card is subject to a non-refundable service fee. If you prefer payment with a credit card, I will provide a secure payment link (Stripe). You receive the payment details/payment link after registering.
A down payment of € 200 per person is due within 7 days after completing the online booking process. The remaining balance must be settled no later than April 30, 2024 (June Retreat) and July 31, 2024 (September Retreat). When making a short-term booking between the 60. and 30. day before the start of the retreat, the total amount is due immediately.
For a full refund, cancel at least 30 days before the start of the retreat. After that, or in case of a no-show, we cannot grant any refund. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for detailed information.
Disclaimer: Participation in the hikes is at your own risk and responsibility. We highly recommend taking out *travel insurance offering a mountain rescue.
This is an estimate and not binding. It should help you to calculate the approximate cost of your travel.
The excursions are held in English language!
**If you want to register for the September Retreat, please make your room reservations ASAP. September is high season, and it can be hard to find accommodation if not done in time**
€ 425,– per person
€ 445,– per person; including a non-refundable service fee