10.8.2007: From Selakano on Spathi Madharas (2.148 m) in the Dikti Mountains

On my first mountain bike tour I got to know two nice Bavarians, and we played with the cards on some occasions. When I told them about my plans of a long mountain walk in the Dikti - mountains, they spontanuoslyly decided to join me, together with their wifes. Two more Austrian made up our group to seven people, who entered the hired cars at 5.15 a.m. for a a drive to the little hamlet of Selakano, about 40 km afar, on about 1.000 m height and high above the village of Mirtos (on the south coast about 20 km west of Ierapetra).

Selakano only consists of a few scattered groups of houses, however comprising two churches (Greece seems to be the country with the highest density of churches !!!). After some difficulties in the beginning, we find the route, marked as "E4" and by paintings.

Selakano has saved Crete´s largest forest of Mediterranean stone pines (most forests have been stubbed by the Venecians who occupied Crete some hundreds of yeasr ago; the forest could not regenerate due to the climate).


Pinie forest

My comanions (from left to right): Markus from Vienna, Renate, Brigitte, Franz and Koni (Konrad) from Bavaria near Chiem lake, Norbert from Upper Austria.

Special characteristic of Selakano are the thousands of beehives. The bees are "milking" the pine lice, like they do it with the fir tree lice in northern countries. Despite their enormeous count the bees are not seen on the ground, except on the few flowers and on wet places (usually leakages of the water hoses where thousnds of them gather for drinking)


Few, but attractive flowers: squills (urginea maritima) lose all of their leaves in summer, so that the flower stalk, up to 1.5 m high, seems to grow directly from the naked soil.

I can´t identify this beautiful thorny plant with my book about mediterranean flora.

Due to our early start we can go a considerable part of the route in shadow.

One main striking feature of the Cretian mountains is that there is nearly no grass up there: only thorny bushes and dry resistant trees.

Brigitte and Koni need some water, which is essential heree. I carried with me 4 1/2 litres, and I drank it all!

We are now walking across an area with very old Kermes oaks.

 ... where goats are dwelling..

Viewing up to Psari Madhara, 2.142 m, early as high as our today´s goal.

View back to the south - the sea is nearly hidden by today´s dense dust.

Repeatedly fascinating the many prickly thistles.

A small shepherds´ refuge, on a small bank in the high valley we are walking, about 1.600 m high.

At least the dale´s end in sight: From the small saddle right of the middel the route goes to the left on Psari Madhara, and to the right on Spathi madharas.


First glimpse of Spathi Madharas. A considerable part of the distance still missing.

In the dale ground also just thorny bushes.

At least arrived on the saddle. The northern view is not really better than the southern, the sea cannot be seen due to the dense dust.

Lunchtime on the saddle.

The iew in western direction to Psari Madhara (2.142 m)

Five of us turned back now, whereas Koni and I proceed for the summit.

From the ridge we can see a part of the famous, fertile Lasithi - plateau on about 700 metres).

The summit is close now.

Koni on the summit of Spathi Madharas (2.148 m). Even a summit book is there where we made our notice, of course (the last was from three days ago ...).

At least a glimpse of the Lybian sea can be seen now, much more prominent once more the many greenhouses.

View to the northwest with Sarakino (1.586 m) and Toumba moutsouras (1.538 m). The Aegaean sea only can be anticipated.

The famous Lasithi plateau. (For a view in the opposite direction, click on this Link). In former days, the plateau was famous for its numerous windmills, pumping the water up from the underground, for watering the fields.

360 degree panoramic view from the summit of Spathi Madharas (2.148 m), Dikti mountains. Click into the pictures for a larger version.

View over the summit ridge of Spathi Madharas to Psari Madhara (2.148 m) in the Dikti - mountains.

View in eastern direction to Lazaros (2.085 m), behind the summit in the dust Afendis Stavramenos (1.476 m, Thripti mountains)

Once more the Lasithi plateau, behind to the right is Selena (1.558 m)

A glimpse through the dust to Merambelo - cove with Agios Nikolaos

On the descent, this time shortened by directly walking down a side ridge in western direction to the shepherds refuge we have seen on the ascent, then back on the same path. View back to Spathi Madaras

Psari Madhara, with the high dale behind, in wich we ascended to the saddle.

Once more a view back to the saddle, where the others have turned back.

I can´t identify this blooming thistle, which grows quite frequently here.

Back in the area of the Kermes oaks.

Cretian kind of "strawflower" (Helichrysum microphyllum)

Back to the zome of the pines.

Back near Selakano

The road up to Selakano leadws through some keen rocks ...

 ... and along a rock wall