Heraklion-Agios Nicolaos to Kritsa to Katharo Plateau to Kastelli
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Road trip Dikti Mountains with Eurodriver
Quick stop for a beauty shot!
So right now you are dealing with a seriously frazzled blogger. I have to be honest, I am a technophobe, and the shear effort and amount of hours it has taken me to learn to edit a video and to make a simple map for you guys for this post has almost driven me to the brink. Some of the tracks we took were off road and over the mountains have been removed,and replaced by road routes. Sadly google won't believe me, so I will try to fumble along with a description. So here it is. I really hope that you enjoy it! So this was our latest trip!
Setting off from Heraklion we made our way east along the national road to Agios Nicolaos. Today was an extra exciting day for us because our good friend Silvio Schmit and our son Aris were keeping us company. So we were a band of one Tenere, two XT 660r and of course the Pegasus.
Road from Kritsa to Katharo Plateau with Agios Nikolaos in the distance
We turned right at the junction at Agios Nicolaos and continued for about 10km to the village of Kritsa. This is where the journey got interesting, from sea level we were heading up the mountainside and fast. Of course that can only mean tight turns and extreme sharp corners ever climbing upwards. It didn't take long before we could get the benifits of a good view.
The road from Kritsa to Katharo Plateau
Beauty shot for the bikes Aprillia Pegasus, Tenere 660, XT 660R
As you can see from these shots, the roads weren't in too bad shape, but the bends were tight. This is the only road that will get you from Kritsa to Katharo Plateau so it isn't a hard route to follow at this point. Its about 16-17 km of tight bends and a narrow strip of asphalt as you climb.
Yamaha XT 660R and Aprillia Pegasus 650
Make the most of the many good vantage points on the way up. Don't rush make sure you have a good look over to Agios Nikolaos and Mirabello gulf in the distance.
Road to Katharo Plateau with Mt. Tsivi in the distance
There is only one road from Kritsa to Katharo Plateau, we didn't see any traffic. There is a chance in the summer time that you might bump into the odd group of jeep safari fans other than that it is just used by farmers to get to there land..Oh and of course sheep! As you can see, it is very narrow it is fairly well maintained but there were parts where gravel and stones had been washed onto the road so take care.
So we arrived at Katharo Plateau which sits at a height of about 1200m. It is overshadowed by Mount Tsivi. Protected by winds and isolated by the mountains, with over 370 species of flowers 40 of which are endemic it is an isolated mini ecosystem. All this information we gathered from Mr. Yannis who has a simply built snack bar at the start of the Plateau. His little snack bar is brimmed with ecological and geological references about the plateau. He also had a collection of elephant and hippo fossils from the plain. We stopped there to have a village herbal tea The herbs in which are picked locally in the mountains. The tea is then sweetened with local honey yum!
pit stop at Mr. yannis' snack bar
snack bar/ natural history museum on the Katharo Plateau
Katharo Plateau is interlaced by a network of dirt tracks mainly used by farmers to access their plots. Just beyond the snack bar, the dirt road forks, we took the right side that took us past the Havga gorge. From this point it is off road. Our road led us up the mountainside and passed the gorge of Havga and is roughly ten kms long. Starting off easy, as we passed several outbuildings and stables, it soon got tougher as we navigated our way over the mountain top. This route is for single riders only. Loose stones and rocks, ravines washed into the dirt tracks and super sharp turns and a very steep incline would make it incredible uncomfortable for a passenger and dangerous. The dirt track eventually winds its way over the mountain and onto the plain of Lassithi. Our point of entry being the tiny hamlet of Marmaketo.
Katharo Plateau we took the road to the right passed the Havga Gorge
Beauty shot for Tenere
Coming over the mountain the divides Katharo and Lassithi Plateau
What goes up must come down! and that we did as we wound are way down the flank of the mountain and into the Lassithi Plateau.
Lassithi is disected by plots of grazing land and vegetable lots
Lassithi plateau is one of the richest argricultural plateaus on the island. Many tiny hamlets cling to the mountainside on the edge of the plateau. It is completely flat, and as far as the eye can see, the land has been disected into little arible plots where vegetables, fruit orchards grow and livestock graze. The air is heady with the aroma of tyme and sage which grows wild on the scrubby mountainside.
The roads here were in excellent condition and it was plesant passing through the traditional stone hamlets where time seems to have stood still. We followed the road to the east and passed the village of Tzemiado.
This is where my route differs from google maps, we didn't turn north for Mochos, we passed the turn off for Mochos and turned off at this dirt track. I got to add to my skills sheep hustler, as we tried to make our way through the indifferent sheep. This track was really quite bad. hardly used and in bad repair it winds over the mountain side on the east flank of the gorge and took us down into the village of Amariano. it was incredibly thrilling run. Impossibly tight turns and steep banks, but with the reward of the most incredible views. Really I felt like I was on top of the world.
In some of these photos we are above the clouds spoiling my view a little at times.
Still climbing upwards we are above the clouds.
Having crossed the peak we had to get down the other side. This was tough for me, as I am admittedly not as confident as my son or husband or our good friend Silvio. Steep descent with bolders and rocks on sandy paths, often that had been washed away. The path became narrower and narrower, with nothing but rocks and huge drops either side. I really felt the fear factor on this one.
The benifits aside from the thrill where see up close huge eagles totally oblivious to our presence as hovered in the air almost parrallel to us, and of course the feeling of being on top of the world.
A long way down
A far more difficult route to navigate than the one at Katharo Plateau, we offer this as a guided tour, without back up or a team support this route isn't a good idea. However, if you'd like the challenge we can arrange guided tours incorperating this route.
So down we went, and eventually hit the asphalt. The adventure wasn't over yet, serpentining and zig zaging as we spiralled down passed the village of Amariano and on to the town of Kastelli.
The last leg of our journey had us revisiting part of the tour we made in previous blogs, this time we took the route from Kastelli to Peza. Good asphalt and a fast trip. From Peza we connected to the new national road for Heraklion. We turned left at the junction of Skalani so that we could pass by the archalogical site of Knossos and from there into the city of Heraklion.
A cracking day out. A total of 196 km most of it in the most beautiful and remote environment. All the bikes handled the challenge excellently. Dual sports are an ideal choice for the mountains of Crete.
If you are interested in touring the island of Crete with a motorcycle and would like more information on motorcycle hire or would like to arrange a guided tour or motorcycle holiday, feel free to contact me or you can visit our website www.motorbikerentalcrete.com