During the implementation of the XENIOS research project, the Creative People team visited Chania, in order to gather site information, since the Samaria Gorge is one of the two pilot areas for implementing the XENIOS system.
The visit lasted 3 days – 2 nights and took place in the period 29/10/2018 -31/10/2018, during which meetings were held with various agencies related to the Samaria Gorge . During their visit, the Creative People team also had to cross the gorge, in order to perform a field survey and the operational needs for the XENIOS system design and implementation.
The visit would not have been successful without the valuable help of the Samaria – West Crete National Park Management Agency, partners in the “XENIOS” program .
During the 1st day of the visit, meetings were held with the gorge management, as well as with Fire Brigade officials, who are in charge of coordinating the site evacuation actions in the case of an emergency.
The purpose of this article is to present the results of crossing the gorge in a nutshell without further discussion or comments on the results of the above meetings.
Crossing the Samaria Gorge
The day began with the pickup of the Creative People team by executives of the Forest Management Agency, from the hotel and transfer them to the entrance of the gorge at “Xyloskalo”, where the entrance of the Forest is located.
Upon arrival, a meeting was held with the staff of the outpost to gather information about the visitors entry process, as well as the needs that they would like the XENIOS system to cover.
Each ticket consists of 3 sections, of which the 1st is cut off at the entrance of the gorge, the 2nd is cut off at the exit, while the 3rd part is kept by the visitor as a souvenir of the visit.
Free entrance to the gorge is allowed for children under 15 years, people serving the armed forces, people with special needs, escort groups, but following the pre-determined procedure for issuing and canceling their zero value tickets. This is particularly important as one of the main questions XENIOS has to respond in real time, is how many people are in the gorge now.
Tickets issued are numbered by the Ministry of Environment-Energy and Climate Change (Chania Forest Directorate) and are counted only at certain times during the day, without any computerized entry-exit system for visitors. Approaching the question “How many people are in the gorge now” from the number of existing tickets is a problematic solution as it’s not realtime. Another approach should be followed as Xenios system needs to calculate the exact number of hikers crossing the gorge.
It makes perfect sense that the count of tickets in the entrance should be exactly the same on the exit. At this point, we must mention that the gorge consists of 2 possible “gates” (“Xyloskalo” and “Agya Roumeli”), which both function as entrances and as exits depending on the route the visitor chooses (and his stamina, above all as taking the route from Agya Roumeli to Xyloskalo is a steep uphill route).
Therefore, the possible routes that the visitor can follow are:
|Agya Roumeli||Agya Roumeli|
After the meeting with the gorge staff, the crossing of the gorge began guided by a person of the gorge management team. Throughout the crossing, the instructions and information received by the gorge team, both for the nature and for the historical part of the Forest, made the route much more interesting and enjoyable.
All along the way, the Creative People team carried out measurements and tests related to the implementation of the XENIOS system and more specifically related to telephone coverage, GPS signal, internet access, as well as points worth mentioning in their report.
As a result of these tests, we can mention that after the first 500 meters there is no telephone coverage (from any mobile phone provider), except from point on the 1st km – at a very specific point- and the bridge at the outpost of the old settlement which is located at the 7th km, once again at a very specific point.
GPS signal is available when accessing the Forest, before entering the gorge. Inside the gorge there is no GPS signal coverage from a smart phone device (Trimble and Garmin devices have but we were investigating the case of ordinary visitors having smartphones), not to neglect no telephone and no internet access. The GPS signal returns just before the gorge exit in “Agya Roumeli”.
Crossing the gorge took 6 ½ hours, time that was consider to be at least decent, if you consider that the Creative People team members are only training their fingers – through frequent repetitions and sets – using keyboards- and exercise their lower jaw muscles for coffee and water intake, to keep their mind alert.
Leaving the gorge, the journey continued -this time by boat- and the team was transferred from Agya Roumeli to the port of Sfakia, where the other members of the organization were waiting by vehicle, for the pickup and transfer of the team to the hotel.
Crossing the gorge of Samaria is undoubtedly in the list of things that one must do when visiting Crete and especially the prefecture of Chania.
The breathtaking scenery and the chance to be close to the “wild beasts” or “Cretan wild goat”, also known as “kri- Kri”, compensate the hiker’s fatigue.
[The route with the main points-stops (POI)]
[Archive of geo-referenced photos]