Back to the Roots of Cretan Tradition

Thank you GeoDali

Thank you GeoDali

A review of our program in Trip Advisor

Samaria Experience: The Programme

The Samaria Experience – back to the roots of Cretan traditions

The “Samaria Experience” is a unique programme of activities created and run by a prominent family from the villages of Samaria and Agia Roumeli.

For many years Roussos Viglis has been dreaming of conveying his intimate knowledge and deep love of one of the most remote and wildest places in Europe. Finally the time is ripe and the “Samaria Experience” started running from spring 2014.

In 4 days of activities centered around the village of Agia Roumeli and the gorge of Samaria you will get an understanding of what it was like to live in this beautiful but harsh place: how people lived and how they survived in almost complete isolation, what they ate, how they cooked.

You will also discover the gorge of Samaria as very few see it: away from crowds and through the eyes of people who were born and grew up there.

Threadding the honeycombs: sometimes this happens!

Threadding the honeycombs: sometimes this happens!

Ο Σταύρος περνάει τα σύρματα στα πλαίσια. Χρησιμεύουν ώς στήριγμα για το φύλλο κεριού που θα τοποθετήσουμε αργότερα. Εκεί θα ξεκινήσουν οι μέλισσες να πλέκουν τα κέρινα κελιά τους!
This is how Stavros threads the wires through the new honeycombs. These wires will be supporting a molded sheet of wax (made from the wax we collected from the bees last year). The bees will use this layer in order to start creating their wax cells, thus forming the honeycomb!

The Programme – 4 days of discovery

The Samaria Experience is a very personal endeavour by our family to show you the life and the natural environment of one of the most remote and traditional regions of Crete. Passing through the gorge of Samaria on a day trip may be spectacular but being in a stream of tourists on a sightseeing walk will not give you any opportunity to learn and experience what life in such a place was – and to some extent still can be.

The old village of Agia Roumeli - click to enlarge

The compact 4 days programme that we offer can give you a taste of our life, an insight into our history and roots as well as an appreciation of the wilderness surrounding us.

If you are a keen photographer you will also have plenty of great opportunities to take photos.

Day 1

Morning – We will visit the old village of Agia Roumeli as well as a few local chapels. Then a walk up to the Turkish castle which sits on a ridge above Agia Roumeli will help give you a good idea of the settings of the place and why people have lived here for so long. It is also an occasion to explore the history of the place and maybe do a litle bit of herbs gathering

Spyros baking bread in our wood oven - click to enlarge

Afternoon – Traditional bread and paximadi baking in our wood oven. We will do this in time to be able to sample it with our dinner.

Day 2

Whole day – Your private visit of the gorge of Samaria is probably the highlight of this programme. We will leave very early in the morning and slowly make our way up through the narrow canyon-like section of the gorge up to the village of Samaria. It is unlikely that we will meet anyone on our way because the day trip walkers come from the top and even the fast ones won’t get as far down so quickly. It will also be a good time to show you some of the herbs (and in the spring time the flowers) that grow in the gorge.

In the gorge of Samaria - click to enlarge

Once we arrive in the village we will show you our ancestral home, the olive factory and will of course be able to tell you many stories about how life was for the people who lived here – one of the remotest places in Europe – until 50 years ago.

By that time the village will start to get a little busy with walkers who come here for a break before proceeding down to Agia Roumeli so we’ll find a nice quiet place a little away from the village to take a long lunch break, maybe take a little nap, keep an eye out for the shy Cretan wild goat, do a little bit of bird watching, or simply enjoy being in wild nature. Eventually, by around 15.00 almost all the walkers will have passed through and we can return back to Agia Roumeli, again enjoying the peace of the place and the cool shade because the sun will now be hiding behing the tall cliffs of the gorge. We get back to Agia Roumeli in the evening, in time for a short refreshing swim in the sea before dinner.

Checking the beehives - click to enlarge

Day 3

Morning – Cooking a local dish or two – an informal introduction to local cooking, the ways of cooking and the ingredients we use.

Afternoon – Roussos Viglis is also a beekeeper. This is something that he learned from his father and grandfather. Besides being work that provides an income it is also a passion and his bees, his ‘girls’ as he says, are very much part of his family.
In the later part of the afternoon we will go and visit a few beehives for an introduction to Cretan beekeeping, an activity that is probably over 4000 years old on this island. The more questions you ask him about his bees the happier he will be.

Day 4

Morning – We will take a walk towards the East to visit the lower part of the little known gorge of Elygias which runs parallel to the gorge of Samaria. Here again you will find beautiful trees and undisturbed nature. It will also be a good occasion to collect some more wild herbs. This can be a short walk (a couple of hours) or quite a long one depending on your mood.

Afternoon – The afternoon will be free until the evening where we gather again for a barbecue on a local beach. We’ll look for a place that is a little away from any village lights so that we can have a good look at the fantastic night sky that can generally be seen from Agia Roumeli.