The major geographical feature of western Crete is the Lefka Ori, or the White Mountains which dominate the center of Chania province. To get to the south coast from Chania one must drive over this range.
The White Mountains are named so because they are snow capped from fall to late spring and because they are made of limestone and thus pale even when not covered in snow. The highest summit is over 8000 feet and there are 30 peaks that soar to over 2000 meters (6500+ feet). There are also 50 gorges. Pictured above is the start of the Samaria Gorge that begins at an altitude of about 6500 feet and plunges down to sea level in the 16 km walk. We went part way down the trail.
Goat herds are ubiquitous on the mountain roads. The sound of their clanging bells is music to my ears, evoking a sense of timelessness.
The slopes are a patchwork of olive trees, cypress and maple. Aromatic herbs grow wild and the air is perfumed with their fragrance. Little villages, each with its ornate church, hug the hillsides.
We saw several Greek Orthodox priests, dressed in their long black robes and sporting long beards and little hats scurrying along the roadway to minister to their flocks, we supposed.
The views are spectacular. Someday it would be nice to dedicate a visit to hiking through the mountains of Crete. Driving is pleasant as well.
Once over the mountain range, you discover the wild and beautiful southern coast. The Cretian island of Gavdos is the southernmost point in Europe. Across the Libyan Sea is Africa. Much of the coastline is unreachable except by boat.
We lunched in the village of Paleochora, lively and friendly.
The beach resorts are understandably very popular. They're set up for hordes of people to recline in the sunshine. Luckily for me that kind of crowd was nowhere to be seen when we were there.