The Omalos plateau of Chania is between the imposing tops of the Lefka Mountains (Volakas, Gigilios, Ksiloskalo, Samperos and Psilafi) and 38 kilometers in the south-west of Chania. The plateau is circular and one of the biggest of Crete as its area is 15 square meters.
Omalos is 1100 meters above the sea level and the most of its part falls under the Ano Selinos settlement.
The gorge has three entrances. The first one is in Nerantzoporta on the road that connects the plateau with Chania. The second entrance is in the south-west of the beginning of the Omalos- Sougia road and the third one is in Ksiloskalo, where the Samaria gorge begins.
The Tzani cavern is in the northern entrance of the plateau. It has not been explored as the speleologists had gone only 2520 meters deep where two porticos are.
There is a long asphalted road when you reach the plateau. Old stone houses used by the farmers and the shepherds of the area are on that road.
The gorge is divided into the northern and the southern side. The northern side is called Lakkiotikos Giros and the southern Seliniotikos Giros. The house of the great Cretan hero, Chatzimichalis Giannaris, is in Lakkoi of Lakkiotiokos Giros. Restaurants and small hotels are also there. There is a small settlement with a restaurant in Seliniotikos Giros and a cafeteria in the entrance of the Samaria gorge, in Ksiloskalo. A small natural history museum for the Lefka Mountains and the Samaria gorge is also in that area. A fork leading to the Kallergis mountain refuge of the Greek Mountaineering Club of Chania is a few meters before Ksiloskalo.
The Omalos plateau is an ideal destination for your holidays in winter and spring. In the winter you can enjoy the white, snowy landscape and, in the summer, the wild flora of the area or walk on one of the many paths.
Three E4 European Paths start from the Omalos plateau. The first and more popular is that of the Samaria gorge that ends to Agia Roumeli. The second path connects Omalos with the Kallergis mountain refuge and ends to Katsiveli. The third one is the largest and most difficult path that connects Omalos with the Askifos settlement.
There are many climbing routes in Gigilos.
There are also many caves and springs in the area.
The Omalos plateau played an important role in the revolutions against the Turks as it was a shelter of the Cretan rebels. The Turks managed two times to approach it with great difficulty.
During the German Occupation, a small airport was working in Omalos.
KALLERGIS MOUNTAIN REFUGE
The Kallergis mountain refuge of the Greek Mountaineering Club of Chania is in the south-east of the Omalos plateau, in Chania. It is 1680 meters above the sea level, near the National Park of the Lefka Mountains, in a place with a wonderful view to the Cretan and Libyan Seas, the Samaria gorge and the Gavdos Island.
In order to visit the refuge, you should turn to the fork in Ksiloskalo, where the Samaria gorge starts. After 5 kilometers on the dirt road and walking 1.5 hours, you arrive at the refuge.
The mountain refuge can host 50 people, has stoves and a fireplace and works every day from April to October and only in the weekends from November to March. For hours and information you can call: +30 2821044647, E.O.S. Chania.
In the area there are various myths about fairies, shepherds and Kritogenis Zeus.
It is said that the throne of the god of the gods and goddesses, Zeus, was on the top of the Gigilos Mountain (2080 meters above the sea level). It is said that he held his chariot races on the western hilltops.