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GINGILOS  and  VOLAKIAS

From the starting point at Xyloskalo, at 1300M above sea level, Gingilos rises a further 850M, and Volakias a further 150M above that. To the  summit of Gingilos and back should take roughly 6 to 7 hours. If you proceed to the summit of Volakias, reckon on adding a further 2hours 30 mins. to the total journey time. The mountain can remain snow covered until late May. The snow covers up sink holes and caves, and is prone to collapse in early spring, so this then is not the time of year for the amateur rambler to go scrambling up there.
The walk starts close to the start of the Samaria Gorge, behind the Xenia hut. Something of a misnomer as it is a stone built multi storey building with terraces, serving drinks and limited food. At one time it offered overnight accommodation, but now it lies within a National Park this is no longer permitted. The drive up to the hut and a drink on the terrace is a rewarding experience in itself.
If you have taken the bus to Omalos, the walk from there to Xylokalo is 3 km. However much of this walk you do it will be a good day out and consideration must be given to getting back before nightfall. Towards the summit the going gets a bit steep and may not be to the liking of vertigo sufferers. The good thing about this walk though is that if you feel its getting too tough or you’re running out of time, you can just turn round and come back again. However much of it you do, you will be rewarded with some spectacular views, in any event.
Pick up the path behind the hut and follow it as it zigzags steeply upwards. After around half an hour it starts to descend slightly, affording views across the Samaria Gorge to your left. Carry on through a rock arch and after about an hour and a half from setting off you will come to the Linoseli spring which flows all year round. This is the only spring on the walk. Beyond the spring the path narrows and becomes much more rocky and zigzags steeply upwards. After about 40 mins. You will arrive at the saddle, where there are some impressive views of the Libyan sea and the island of Gavdos, and also the north coast. It can get very windy at this point. From here to the summit the route becomes quite steep and requires a head for heights and you may possibly need to use your hands to balance. This last stretch is not an obvious path, but rather a route marked with red markers and cairns, of which there are a few variants, but they all lead to the top. Eventually you arrive at the summit which levels out and is marked by a stone pyramid. There is a second summit a little further on and at approximately the same altitude, though the view there is not significantly different to the first.


If you want to carry on from here to the summit of Volakias, the path descends a short way and levels out a little before the 150M climb to the top of Volakias. It is quite hard going on the rocky ground, and debatable as to whether the effort is worth it, but if you do go, you can by pass the summit of Gingilos on the return, and cut straight back to the saddle. Other than that, the return journey is back the way you came, which as with many things in life, is much easier to say than do.