2.1 Sougia- Chora Sfakion- Vrisses- Kournas Lake- Argiroupoli
63 km | 1.725 vertical meters | Category 3
I was seasick when I reached Chora Sfakion. After a rough crossing by ship from the west, I was happy to go ashore.
Showered by the spray from the waves on arriving, I did not even felt refreshed and had only one desire: I longed for a difficult mountain stage.
The road with its steep ascents up to the Askifou plateau went forth and back again in a way I had never encountered before. It turned sideways in steep turns, and finally made me throw up my frugal breakfast, just when a cheerful crowd on a jeep safari drove past me. From now on I inhaled deeply the surrounding scent of pine on this breathtaking climb up the serpentine road to the plateau.
Explore the fantastic mountain scenery, going over the pass at 890m and straight to the main village Amoudari, surmounted by the distinctive cone of the Kastro (2.219m). Karst mountain ranges typically feature potholes and closed basins (poljes) that look almost flat, but which are littered with debris caused by the weather scouring the surrounding mountain slopes, which enables the land to be used for agricultural purposes. Swallets (or ponors) allow the water that reaches the potholes to flow off below the ground, but if there is no drain, the plateau will turn into a temporary pond.
Climb the northern mountain ridge at 800m and speed up downhill to the water-rich village of Vrisses, situated under large sycamore trees. The friendly atmosphere invites you for a rest. Try the special Sfakion yogurt they make here from sheep milk.
The route leads through Georgiopoli to Lake Kournas, the only natural freshwater lake of Crete. Overlooking the wide water surface and the surrounding, up to 1.400m high Mt. Fourni, it seems as if you are in the high mountains. But the lake is located just 60m above sea level.
Now there are still 20km to go, until you reach the outskirts of the village Argiroupoli, the ancient Lappa. A unique mild and peaceful atmosphere lies above this place with its rushing fountains.