Hiking Pachnes: Trip to the Top of the World
At 2453 meters altitude, Pachnes is the highest peak of the White Mountains and the second highest on Crete. Located in the municipality of Sfakia, in the Lefká Óri mountain range, it is a popular hiking destination, as its routes are not as difficult as others, and the views are spellbinding.
The eerie terrain of the mountaintop reminds of scenes from SciFi movies with Mars landscapes at the core. Some have described Pachnes as a lunar desert, others describe it in simpler terms: an alpine wilderness. Whatever words you choose to talk about the hike, nothing quite compares to the experience of actually reaching the summit: more than 45 mountain tops are visible from here and although the landscape seems lifeless, the flora will surprise you with rare blooms – particularly Colchicum Cretense – and shrubs. Pachnes is covered in snow half a year and the blossoms only come after the autumn rains.
One of the main attractions on Pachnes is Anópoli, a traditional Cretan village, home of Dhaskaloyiannis, the first of the great Cretan rebels against the Turks, a celebrated personality locally – there’s even a statue in his honor in the main square of the village. It is a beautiful hamlet, high on the peak, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. One of its main landmarks is Agía Aikaterini, a small Orthodox church on a high hill.
Some hikers call Pachnes the “high desert” – and for a good reason. If you are not into hikes, there are also 4×4 rides offered by local companies. Ask your concierge to organize a trip for you. For hikers, it’s important to wear good footwear and windproof clothing. Ideally, you will take your time to explore the mountain and bring along a sleeping bag and tent to have more time in nature. Always have food and water supplies. There are also local guides – like Aori Walks – ready to offer custom trips.