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A Detailed Tour Of the Area
The tour of Asterousia starts from the East and heads to the West. Starting either from Tsoutsouras or Mesochori village one can visit the Monastery of Saint Nikitas, with the great beach next to it, and the small palm wood of Saint Anthony. Driving along the steep slopes of the gorge of Achentrias leads to the small oasis with plane trees in Maridaki settlement. However, as it may sound strange, walking the amazing footpath to Maridaki from Tsoutsouras takes 25’, while driving in the rough dirt road aside Achentrias Gorge takes one and a half hours! In order to head to the west from Maridaki, you should drive back to Messara plain, as there is no other way. When returning, it is worth driving through the traditional village of Ethia or end up in Pirgos.
Near Pirgos starts a road to the village Paranymfi and then to the seaside village of Tris Ekklisies, where the largest natural carob wood in Crete is located. The scenery while driving in the paved track is unbelievable, with sharp cliffs and steep bare rocks ending in the sea. Near Paranymfi you should visit the spectacular waterfall of Ambas, in the beginning of the homonymous gorge. The surrounding area of the canyon is home to the largest insular colony of birds of prey in Europe.
After returning to the plain of Messara, you can try driving in the most impressive track on Asterousia Mountains, the road to the monastery Koudoumas. The road runs from the village Sternes, but there is an alternative through the restored village of Kapetaniana and passes next to the highest peak of Asteroussia, Kofinas (1231m). The view from there is spectacular and climbing on the mountain is certainly worth every inconvenience. A narrow dirt road, with amazing views to the sea, descends from an altitude of 1000 meters to the sea level, passing through a scenic pine forest and the wild Koudoumas gorge. The road stops on the nice beach, next to the Monastery Koudoumas. From there you can walk westbound to the Cave of Saint Anthony and later to the settlement of Agios Ioannis. Agios Ioannis can be alternatively accessed by car only via a dirt road starting from Kapetaniana.
Continuing, following the road heading southwest of the village of Vassiliki will take you to the gorge of Tripiti, with the church of Panagia built in the rock. The road runs in the gorge, passes through the large olive wood of Agios Savvas, and leads through very narrow passages to the stunning beach of Tripiti. From Tripiti starts a second dirt road that continues west towards Krotos, across the wild and eerie landscape of arid Asterousia.