Click on the thumbnails to enlarge

Gingilos seen from the plateau of Omalos

Reaching the end of the first part

On the path to the spring

Passing the arch

Strange rock formations

The spring of Linoseli

Part  two of the walk

Leaving the saddle

Almost at the summit

Summit view to the South: the Libyan sea and the island of Gavdos

Summit view to the East: Pachnes

Summit view to the North: the Omalos plateau

Walk to the summit of Gingilos

The summit of Gingilos (1980 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 there.
  • with its vertical north face the summit is probably the most impressive looking in Crete.
  • 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 White Mountains to the East.
  • the path as been substantially improved some years ago (at least two thirds of the way) and makes the walk 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 in three parts, the return is by the same route and the total walking time is approximately 5 hours.

Part 1
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.
Part 2
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 1700 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, 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).
Part 3
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 summit).
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 you will notice that there is a second summit a little further on. They are at about the same altitude and the scramble to the second summit doesn't give you much better views than from the first. The return is by the same route.

Towards the South you will see the higher summit of Volakias (2116m). It is possible to go there by going straight down and up to the summit but the walk is tiring in extremely rocky terrain (it takes one to two hours). From the summit of Volakias you can return straight to the saddle by passing below the summit of Gingilos (i.e. you head in the general direction of the saddle without going back up to the summit of Gingilos).

Some words of warning
Gingilos is one of the first mountains to the West of the 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.