Katharo

cyclists rides uphill to Katharo Plateau

the cool oasis of Dikti mountains


Start point
Moni Kristalenias (Lasithi Plateau)
Distance
38,5 km
Altitude
825m↑ / 824m ↓
Max / Min points
1204m / 840m
Duration
3,5h
Finish point
Moni Kristalenias (Lasithi Plateau)

Highlights


  • The famous Lasithi Plateau
  • The Katharo plateau inside Dikti mountains
  • the wild goats
  • The perenial Prinos trees (Cretan Oak)
  • The cooler temperatures of the higher altitude during the summer
  • The amazing and fast downhill
  • Havgas canyon
  • The fresh water from the fountain at Perivola
  • The taverns at Avdeliako village

Description

Katharo plateau is the second largest plateau of the Dikti mountains where there is an unusual property ownership system as only permanent residents of Kritsa village have the right to exploit the pastures and fields. The shepherds drove their cattle at katharo in early April to graze and spring follows them which here comes a little bit later than the rest of Crete because of the altitude, but is an oasis in the summer months when the temperature in the lowlands is higher.

With the exception of the shepherds and a few taverns operating during the summer months Katharo has no permanent residents, but thousands of years ago here were living dwarf hippopotamus and elephants. Today you will not see hippopotamus but sheep and goats which climb even on the trees to graze and give them strange and stunning shapes especially the Prinos Oaks.

The climb from Lassithi plateau to the highest point is relatively easy except a few short steeper sections. From 1204 meters of altitude, the view of Lasithi Plateau and Dikti mountains is amazing, everybody stops here for photos and to admire the view. As we descend the landscape changes and Katharo appears as a huge garden in the harsh rocky landscape of the mountains, and Havgas the big canyon outflows the waters of Dikti to Lassithi plateau

The Katharo is beautiful whenever you visit it. In winter you may ride in snow but the taverns are closed. In spring it is green and colorful by the myriad of flowers, many of them grow only here. In summer when it is getting hotter at Katharo the temperature is always lower and in autumn you will taste the tiny but delicious apples.

Our suggestion is to ride inside Katharo counterclockwise in order to stop at the end at a tavern in Avdeliako so that you will rest before the last short climb on the way back. At the location Perivola there is a spring with cold water. Here come the locals to fill their bottles.

...and explore Crete from your own!

Maps


Asphalt road


Dirt road


Single track


Carrying / pushing


Alternative route

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