As it seems, I have a few posts about Crete coming up. I had been debating about trying to keep them as one but then realised I had way too much to talk about for this particular one. I'll figure out the rest later but for now I have so much to tell you about our amazing trip with Safari Club.
***Long post warning - but don't worry, there are lots of photos!***
What an adventure! Before arriving in Crete, myself and Caitlin (one of my best friends who I traveled with) decided it would be best if we had some kind of idea what we were going to do once we got there as we wanted to be able to see as much of the island as we could in the short time we would be there. Thanks to TripAdvisor, we found some great ideas for what we could do. Ultimately this Jeep Safari stood out by a mile!
With 341 out of 364 reviews giving it 'Excellent' and another 18 being 'Very Good', and 5 out of 5 stars, the people on TripAdvisor convinced us that Safari Club in Crete would be the best option for us to see as much as possible whilst also gaining an experience of a lifetime.
We chose to do the Minoan route as it was the closest to us in Gouves and we'd be able to learn more about the history of Minoan Crete. On the Saturday of our holiday we were picked up from our hotel, greeted by an Australian, Scottish and German (our driver). Our German driver spoke perfect English and communicated between us English speakers and the 4 Germans that we also met, equally. Gladly, he suggested that at almost every stop we would all switch places to allow everyone to have a ride in both the front and back of the jeep.
|On the way up into the mountains. Some fantastic views all the way up!|
|Village of Sfendyli in the distance.|
|Zoomed in photo of the village of Sfendyli.|
Already from the photo you can see how derelict the village of Sfendyli is. Around five years ago this medieval village was home to about 80 people and a Byzantine 14th Century church but now it is completely empty and half submerged underwater. Unfortunately, it was no accident either. The village was deliberately sunk in 2012 as part of the Aposelemis Dam project. The locals living in the village were moved but many originally refused to leave. There's something eerily beautiful about the place.
|Seeing this sign wasn't too comforting!|
The trip took us right up into the mountains and at time I thought we were going to fall off the very narrow roads. We basically zig-zagged our way up. This trip isn't for any one who is scared of heights. That being said, I'm not a fan of heights and I did it!
We stopped off at this little village where we were invited in to their church to light a candle and into their local cafe to try some homemade bread and olive oil, flavoured and non-flavoured Raki and some of their freshly grown olives. Now, I will say I don't drink a lot at all but if I'm offered free shots of their home brewed alcohol, I can't refuse it! I tried the lemon and the cinnamon flavoured Raki and although I don't actually like cinnamon, it was my favourite! I was a really nice subtly sweet taste with a bit of a kick. The bread and olive oil was very nice, but what else do you expect from a country that is covered in olive trees?
We were give about half an hour to walk around the village for us to see what we wanted to see and take as many photos as we wanted. We were warned that locals may invite us in to their houses for some Raki but surprisingly it didn't happy for us. The village was beautiful and I got all sorts of photos, even some arty ones - giving my boyfriend and his photography skills a run for their money!
There was a beautiful little cemetery that got me thinking about their religion. I'm not religious at all but I have an appreciation about other cultures and their way of living. I found it fascinating how they had so many little churches all over the place which made me wonder what they do with their dead. That didn't sound like a good way of putting it but what I mean is, here in England we often have large churches surrounded by large graveyards. Most of Greece is Eastern Orthodox Christian (they are currently celebrating Easter, so Happy Easter Greece!) which is a religion I don't know much about, traditions wise. Turns out they have cemeteries but even then there doesn't seem to be enough graves for the amount of people that will pass away over the centuries. One thing I really respected is that the village put up pictures of those who had passed away recently on lampposts so show their respects. Also throughout the whole journey we kept seeing these tiny churches, often by the side of the roads, those are put up by the families of people who have been killed there, for example, in a car crash or something.
|I wasn't sure what this was supposed to be. It looks like some sort of rocket or bomb shell, which is always nice, but I loved the rustic look and it's use for a plant pot.|
|I'm in love with cacti at the moment (I getting a few from Ikea in the next week or so and I'm excited) so I had to get a photo!|
|I loved this plant/flower! So colourful and vibrant! Thank goodness my old camera did actually have a macro setting on it!|
We carried on walking around the village and got some amazing shots of the buildings, the doors and windows (I found them fascinating) and the wildlife. None of the photos I am posting today have been edited but I can imagine that some of them, with some editing done to them, will look like proper professional photographs!
|Olive factory that is closed for the season until olives can be harvested from the trees.|
Back in the Jeep to go higher and higher up in the mountains. Our driver was always very welcoming and interested in our lives and cultures back home. It was lovely because we ended up making some really great friends. Annoyingly, we didn't get the drivers name or the Scottish woman's name. If either of you read this please comment saying hello! Would love to get in touch! We know the Australian was called Oliver, so if you are reading this Oliver, hope you had a wonderful time in Santorini and a safe journey back home!
|As you can see, we were very high up!|
We got higher and higher and our driver kept stopping off to let us take pictures and often slowed down to show us things.
|'Here marks the spot where the Turkish criminal Tsoulis was executed by locals for his atrocities against Christians...'|
I'd love to be able to tell you more of what it actually says but it was a busier road so we couldn't take a closer look. Basically a Turkish man wasn't very nice to the Christian and he was executed (stoned to death) on this spot and here lies what is called his grave.
|Walking up to Zeus' Cave.|
|Donkey on the way back down.|
Going to Zeus' cave was an experience in itself. There are two routes to get there but vehicles can't go so you've got the choice of walking on hopping on the back of a donkey. Traditionally, people would've always ridden donkeys up to the top but the path has eroded a lot since then so it isn't quite as safe. You can still travel my donkey if you go the easier route though. Being the young and kind-of-healthy people we are, we took the hard route which was 25 minutes of zig-zagging up another mountain. You can see from the photo above that it wasn't quite an even surface either. The next day our calves were hurting so it is most definitely a workout and half.
There was a 6 euros entrance fee at the top but considering that's about £4, it was worth it. The view was beautiful when you got to the top and then when you enter the cave the temperature drops and it's almost like your in whole different world. You can't use your flash in there so my camera was pretty useless but I did video record it all. There's loads of steps down into this big tall cave. It was completely different to any cave I've ever been in before and to be in a place with so much history was simply astonishing! Supposedly it was the birthplace of Zeus as his mother took him there to hide him from being eaten by his father, Cronus. However, apparently there are many other caves that people say the same about. Either way, it was a birthplace or hiding place.
|These little churches are everywhere!|
Finally it was about time to stop off for some food as we were starving! We were given the choice of souvlaki, pork chop, or beef jerky, all served with homemade in olive oil, chips. Whilst we waited for our main meal to come, we were brought jugs of rose wine, bottles of water, and all our starters. The starters were all traditional Greek dishes, from feta cheese, bread with olive oil, garlic tzatziki, something with lentils, and a tomato sauce of this homemade bread thing. Most of it was delicious, other things I didn't like so much. Then the main meal came and I have no words that can describe how delicious my pork chop that I chose was. All the meats were cooked on a BBQ which already gave the pork chop a taste I wasn't used to. It was huge! It was the biggest and most tastiest pork chop I have ever had in my life, and that is saying something because my dad is a cook and loves to make pork chops nearly all the time! The chips were delicious too, just how I like them. I regret not getting a picture. The photos above were of the area where the little family run taverna was.
|There are 24 stone flour mills, in Lissithi Plateau, that date back to the 1800s and were used until WWII. So far, three are restored.|
|Spring water and basins where maids and women of the village come and wash theirs clothes.|
|Sign explaining about the Monumental Plane Tree behind (photo below).|
|Monumental Plane Tree in Hersonissos.|
Our last stop took us to Hersonissos where there is this famous and very large old tree lives. It's width is up to 15 people stood with the arms out touching the next person. That's what we were told any way, but we could clearly see it was a very big tree. There's a myth surrounding it where if a women touches the tree, she will get pregnant, so many people have traveled far and wide if they want a child and have struggled. Some people claim it cured their infertility, others not so much. I didn't even risk it. Would have been an interesting story to tell if I had come back off holiday pregnant. I don't think Ed or my parents would be happy. Neither would I to be honest. This little village was beautifully peaceful. There was in fact a man meditating at the foot of the tree. This tree also has one very unusual feature about it - the branches join together and the grow as one which you very rarely find on any other trees. Especially not any in England! You can just about see it in the photo above.
|View on the way back to the hotel.|
On the way back to our hotel, our driver taught everyone to speak in Greek up to 4 and after we'd repeated it a few times he told up to close our eyes, count to 4 in Greek - éna, dýo, tría, téssera - and then open them. The picture above was what we saw. What an absolutely gorgeous view! We were on a busier road again so we couldn't get out of the jeep but we rolled the windows down and took what pictures we could. Then it was back to the hotel!
I'd like to say a thank you to Safari Club for an absolute fantastic day in Crete. It was an experience and adventure I will never forget and if I ever come back to Crete, which I hopefully will do one day, I'd love to go on one of the other routes! (This isn't a sponsored post by the way, I just really enjoyed it and felt very welcomed.)
Tips for going on a Jeep Safari with Safari Club:
- Take a jacket! - It can get a little cold up in the mountains and when you go down into Zeus' cave.
- Wear plenty of sun tan lotion! - It might get breezy but it's still very sunny and hot at times. I did burn the tops of my shoulders a little.
- Wear trainers or walking boots! - Even though you spend a lot of time driving up into the mountains, you will do a lot of walking too! Especially when you walk up to Zeus' cave.
- Wear flexible trousers! - Shorts will do but you may get a little cold. I wore my black skinny jeans because it was cold in the morning. I just about managed because mine are quite stretchy but I did get a lot warmer later on so I wish I had worn some three quarter leggings or fitness pants or something instead.
- Take some money with you! - Although you've paid for the trip, take some money as the entrance fee of Zeus' cave isn't included and if you're anything like me then you'll also want souvenirs! It's also nice to tip the driver when they've done such a great job of hosting you!
- Book online! - Visit Safari Club Online and choose your route. Before you go to checkout, chat to them online and ask about the trip and it's very likely that they will give you a discount code. We managed to get about 40 euros knocked off for the two of us. You can then choose to pay online straight away, or pay the driver when you get there.
That's it! We got to the end of it! I know this has been a long post, and it has taken me at least a couple of hours to write it but I've loved telling you all about the day, and what a long day it was, and hopefully the photos broke it up a bit for you. I hope it makes you consider going on a similar trip next time you go on holiday!
Thanks for staying with me until the end!
- KC xx
What sort of trips do you like to go on when you go on holiday? Or do you prefer to stay in the hotel?
Read more posts about my trip to Crete: