The summit of Gigilos (1.980 m) is probably the most popular
mountain walk in West Crete
The reasons for this are clear:
- This is the most accessible summit walk. You just get yourself
to the entrance of the gorge of Samaria and the path upwards starts
- The summit is probably the most impressive looking in
- The views along the walk and from the summit are superb,
embracing both the Aegean sea, the north coast of the island and
the Libyan Sea to the south. You also get a good bird's eye view of
the Samaria gorge and can see the summits of the central Lefka Ori
(White Mountains) to the east.
- The path has been substantially improved some years ago (at
least two thirds of the way) and makes the walk much easier than it
used to be.
So do not be surprised if you meet a few people and some groups on
the way. This does not mean that it is crowded: On a busy day there
might be 50 people walking there but no more.
The walk can roughly be divided into three parts, the return is
by the same route and the total walking time is approximately 5 to
The walk starts right next to the cafe located above the entrance
of the Samaria gorge and you first climb steadily on a good path
for about 30 minutes until the path levels off. Then the path is
more or less flat or even going down for the next 30 minutes, first
passing through ancient cypresses then a large arch and interesting
formations until it climbs up a little bit again and you get to the
spring of Linoseli. The spring water is superb and it is the only
water on the way.
Now you enter a world of stones and rocks. This is a zigzag climb
(still on a good path) to the saddle, at an altitude of 1.700 m. It
will take you 30 to 45 minutes. When you arrive at the saddle, you
are at the entrance of the imposing gorge of Tripiti and have great
views of the Libyan Sea, the island of Gavdos as well as some views
of the north coast. On some days it can be very windy from that
point onward (the first two parts of the walk are well protected
from the wind).
The route from there to the summit is steeper and it is not really
a path but a marked route (red spots and some cairns). Many people
choose not to go to the summit because the last part takes more
walking experience than the walk to the saddle. Still it looks more
difficult than it is. The very start is the steepest part and leads
past a large hole. Avoid getting too near to it as this cave starts
with a vertical shaft 150 meters deep and two people have already
fallen in it. Keep following the red spots (sometimes there are
several routes marked but don't worry, they all lead to the
Often, people walking up think that they are going to have great
difficulties coming back down again, but the rock (which looks like
granite but is limestone) is very solid and stable underfoot. You
will have to use your hands in a few places though.
The way to the summit takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes from the
saddle. Once you arrive at the summit with its large stone pyramid
you will notice that there is a second – even higher – summit with
kind of a cross a little further on. That is the place where you
want to go!
To locate the cache, look from the
summit to the southeast (towards the peak of Volakias – 2.116 m) and you will spot a noticeable rock formation (see
spoiler photo!) at a distance of about 10 metres. At its base you
will find a lock'n'lock box hidden under some stones. Please rehide
Some words of
Gigilos is one of the first mountains to the west of the Lefka Ori
(White Mountains) and weather changes can happen very suddenly (bad
weather generally comes from the west). Whilst the walk to the
saddle presents no problem in bad weather and poor visibility, high
winds and fog from then on are extremely dangerous. In case of bad
weather return immediately and as quickly as possible to the
saddle. Do not attempt to walk to the summit if there is snow, even
in good weather unless you are experienced and know the route well.
The walk to the saddle in early spring can also be snowed in in
parts and could be dangerous because there are some passages with
steep drops where you cannot afford to slide down.
On the walk down, people often get tired legs and knees (it is a
long descent) and have to pay special attention not to stumble in
the last part of the walk. Although the path is well marked it is
stony. (Text in parts courtesy of