Crete Explorer Ride

Crete Greece: (IT-GR-LAS)

Crete Greece
Ride across Crete through the mountains to the Libyan Sea.

Surrounded by the clear and blue Mediterranean seas and with its rough and wild rolling landscape of mountains reaching 2,5 km high, you will find horseback riding here on Crete is rather special. Here you ride in the coveted silence and peace that only a tiny island covered with olive-trees, historical sites and timeless myth can offer. 

From the moment you arrive on the hillside of the 4-star country hotel you will immediately be enchanted by the stunning panoramic views of a countryside which beckons for you to mount up and hit the trails. Imagine riding through the Gorge of Gonies, climbing up from sea level to 1100 meters high, or trekking across the remote Lassithi Plateau, a beautifully fertile plateau between the tops of the Dikti Mountains. Enjoy the pleasing views of a quaint local countryside comprised of white windmills still irrigating the lands, rough yet friendly shepherds supervising their herds and workers whom continue to tend to their fields traditionally with their donkeys under the hot Mediterranean sun. Ride along the pretty olive groves and wine yards and pass through Greek villages which have been curiously caught in tradition and time. Traverse desert lands that have been cultivated by the Southern winds of the very close and mysterious continent of Africa. Meet the largest colony of Egyptian Vultures in Europe, nestled up high in mountains. And if conditions are just right, you can take a refreshing swim in the beautiful Libyan Sea with the horses and after we will follow the Anapodaris River and the impressive 5 km gorge it has carved out from the solid Earth. There will also be time to visit the nearby and charming town of Avdou and partake in a drink of Ouzo with the locals at the village square. The trail is an adventurous one - 100 miles through the Dikti Mountains - 6 riding days and 32 riding hours.

There is a Self Guided trip Option available any time with 2+ riders from March-May and Sept to Dec - suitable for Experienced riders ONLY

The Unguided Option - truly alone with horse and nature
Only for the very experienced rider who has complete knowledge horse care it is possible to do this trail without our guide. You will have the help of a map, a route description and painted arrows on every cross road marking the entire trail while all your personal luggage needed are taken in your saddlebags. 2 times during the week you will be able to have a luggage change.
For this option there is a minimum of 2 guests required for safety reasons.

The route for the unguided trek is exactly the same as the route of the guided trek.


This is a progressive ride, so nights are spent in different accommodations.

Accommodations are in small hotels and guesthouses with private facilities.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Nights 1 & 2: Country Hotel near Avdou
Night 3: Hotel Dionissos in Magoulas or Hotel Kourites in Dzermiado
Night 4: Country Hotel near Avdou
Night 5: Giannis Rooms (previously known as Finikas Rooms) in Keratokambos
Nights 6 & 7: Country Hotel near Avdou

Country Hotel near Avdou
The hotel suits its surroundings. It is built with real natural stones collected from the land it stands on, which give it a robust and natural look. The main building houses the reception and a café with a large balcony on which you can drink your Greek coffee or Rakí. In the main building, you also find the Restaurant with its large terrace overlooking the riding place and the valley. The terrace is surrounded by moveable glass walls and a roof that can be opened or closed depending on the weather conditions.
Next to the main building lays the naturally formed large swimming pool of 100 m2 (130 – 160 m deep) with a separate children pool of 11m2 (40 cm deep). The pools are open year round but are not heated. There is also a Jacuzzi with a lounge area that can be rented by the hour during the summer months (comes with Cretan sparkling wine and a fruit platter).
Private outdoor massages and wellness treatments are also available at an extra fee.  
The 12 hotel rooms are grouped into 2 bungalows each housing 6 rooms. The rooms are large and comfortable and all have a tremendous view over the valley. All rooms have central heating and air conditioning, a fridge, a flat screen TV with international channels, a private bathroom with hairdryer as well as coffee and tea making facilities.
Since 2020 the rooms feature new luxury cotton satin bedding, anti-allergic duvet and summer cotton sheets as well as 2 pillow choices (soft and hard).
The hotel has WIFI on the entire property.
Laundry is available for an additional fee.

Taverna Hotel Dionyssos in Magoulas
This small hotel offers simple accommodations on the Lasithi Plateau. All rooms feature a balcony with a view, a private bathroom and a free Wi-Fi access.

Giannis Rooms in Keratokambos
Tonight you sleep in air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and great views over the sea. The accommodations are basic but comfortable. There is no Wi-Fi access.

Room Occupancy
Triple rooms are available in Avdou.
If we are unable to find another rider to share a room with you, the single supplement fee does not apply.

All meals are included but drinks are to be paid extra (water, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks not included).

The chef will prepare traditional Cretan/Greek food with local products. The hotel’s restaurant has its own vegetable, herb and fruit gardens. Ripened under the Cretan sun and grown organically they have a rich and delicious taste. Food is prepared with extra virgin olive oil from our own olive grove.
Some of the local produce used in the restaurant includes meat from the free ranging goats and sheep of our neighbors, cheese made by the local shepherd, homemade raki and honey from a local beekeeper.
Meals are cooked in our wood fire oven and include many vegetable, mezedes, or grilled meat.
All meals are served with good Cretan wines (to be paid extra), made with grape varieties that have been used since Minoan times.
Dinner is your choice from the menu and includes a starter, main dish and salad. Drinks, desserts and other foods are not included.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to most dietary restrictions with prior notice.


Riding Experience

This ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders.  You must be able to control your horse at a trot and canter riding outdoors in a group.

Pace & Terrain
The program includes 6 riding days with a total of 32 riding hours, averaging 5 hours in the saddle per day. We cover a total of about 160 km.
We travel for a week through the Dikti Mountain Range, over the Lassithi high plateau, the Cretan south coast and the Greek countryside. The trail includes 3 days of riding across the mountains (slow pace over rocky paths) and 3 days of active riding across flat plateaus or through the country side.

We use English saddles. Every horse has his own saddle and bridle custom fit for every horse, regularly maintained and refit to follow the changes in the horse body. For bridles, we use a broken or double broken K&K Aurigan bit.

Here we stable 18 lovely horses and 1 pony. We have Arabians, Thoroughbreds and Warmblood horses. These breeds have a long breath and a never tiring will for the long distance riding. They are beautiful and well-trained holiday horses. Always eager to go, very relaxed in the mind, surefooted in the mountains and human orientated.
For the children we have a Welsh B pony. A real children’s pony, very sweat, safe and with speed.
Our horses are trained following the classical dressage method (inspired by the Greek general Xenophon) to maintain the horse healthy and well balanced in its body. Or better explained by his own words: ‘Anything forced and misunderstood can never be beautiful.’
Our horse work very hard on the long distances and in a warm climate. We believe we must do everything we can within our reach to make them feel as good as possible.
On 5 hectares of land, we built the stables by using natural materials like stones and wood. The stables are designed to be as close as possible to the physical needs of the horses.
We feed our horses by placing the hay in a slow feeder on the paddock floor. This means our horses are eating all day long creating a natural grazing behaviour, preventing colics or stumic sores and creating a healthy darm flora.


Sample itinerary - subject to changes

Note: There is a Self Guided trip Option available any time with 2+ riders from March-May and Sept to Dec - suitable for Experienced riders ONLY. The route for the unguided trek is exactly the same as the route of the guided trek.

This is an adventurous trail of 160 km through the mountains. We make a quick canter over the Lassithi high plateau and meet the biggest colony vultures of Europe in the high mountains. We sleep on the south coast where we eat fresh fish and swim with the horses. The trail has 3 days over mountainous area where we travel slowly as we decent and ascent over rocky paths and 3 trail days we ride over the flat plateau or through the country side with its villages, olive groves, and wine yards.

Day 1 (Sunday): Arrival
Arrival in Heraklion (also known as Iraklion) and transfer to the four-star equestrian resort, Country Hotel Velani****, located near Chersonissos.
Meals included: Dinner
Overnight at  Country Hotel Velani****

Day 2 (Monday): Ride to Sfendili hills
Today we take an active trip in northerly direction. We ride up the hills of Sfendili, cross the Byzantine church of Avdou, ride quickly over the "Plateau of Mochos" and have an excellent view of the Psiloritis Mountains, the highest peaks of the island.
3 hours in the saddle.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at  Country Hotel Velani****

Day 3 (Tuesday): Ride through the Gorge of Gonies
Today the trail starts with a spectacular climb, riding through the Gorge of Gonies up from sea level to 1100 meters high, over the old and narrow donkey route. In the past, it was the only possible path to the Lassithi Plateau. We enjoy the breathtaking views and eat a lunch cooked in a traditional Greek oven. At the end of the day, we ride over the Lassithi Plateau. This fertile Plateau between the tops of the Dikti Mountains is known for its white windmills irrigating the land and the locals still working with their donkeys. Here, we will have a quick canter over the nice, flat plateau.
6 hours in the saddle.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in either Magoulas, Hotel Dionissos or in Dzermiado Hotel Kourites (subject to availability)

Day 4 (Wednesday): Ride across the Dikti mountains
Today, we cross through the Dikti mountain range in a southern direction and you will experience the unique feeling of being truly alone with the horses, the mountains, and unspoiled nature. A good kind of loneliness. We may come across some rough, but friendly shepherds as well along the way. Transport to Country Hotel Velani **** for overnight, while the horses stay in the mountains 
5 hours in the saddle.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at  Country Hotel Velani****

Day 5 (Thursday): Ride to the Libyan Sea
Today, we ride downhill through desert lands dried by the southern winds out of the very close continent of Africa. We will eventually meet the clear blue waters of the Libyan Sea and go for a refreshing dive. We can normally also go swimming with our horses, but only if sea conditions are safe to do so. Tonight, we will sleep next to the great sea and, of course, here we shall dine on fresh fish from the wood-fire.
6 hours in the saddle and swimming with the horses.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Finikas Rooms in Keratokambos

Day 6 (Friday): Ride along the Anapodaris River
Today, we start with a ride along the sea and coast before we will turn inland again. We follow the Anapodaris River which has cut out an impressive 5-km long gorge. Still now, the water continues to cut the gorge deeper. Careful you may grow dizzy from the incredible depth! Suddenly the land will become more friendly and accessible again; softer hills with many olive and wine yards. We cross through villages and let the horses drink in Lake Ini.  Transport to Country Hotel Veláni**** while horses stay on trail
6 hours in the saddle.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at  Country Hotel Velani****

Day 7 (Saturday): Ride back to Avdou
We ride back to Avdou through the typical Greek countryside. We pass Greek villages where time has stood still. Feel welcome to stop and drink an Ouzo with the Cretans at one of the village squares. Next to our path rises the Dikti Mountains, which we will never forget. 
5 hours in the saddle.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at  Country Hotel Velani****

Day 8 (Sunday): Departure
Breakfast and departure.
Meals included: Breakfast

Non Riders
There are many activity options available - from Para-gliding to Caving, Mountain Biking and Hiking to Golfing (5 miles away), and Massages.

Rates and Dates for Crete Explorer Ride

Rates include:

Accommodations (Classic room while in Avdou), All meals, 6 guided riding days & Government taxes.
Riding helmets and mini chaps are available for free in the stables.

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    20228 day ride, AP (High)€1355$1625
  • B
    20228 day ride, AP (Low)€1285$1545
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.2

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:

2022 Transfer from Heraklion airport one way, per car (up to 4 pax)
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
50 $60
2022 Transfer from Heraklion city center one way, per car (up to 4 pax)
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
55 $65
2022 Transfer from Hersonissos one way, per car (up to 4 pax)
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
25 $30
2022 Single supplement (requested) 210 $250
2022 Non-rider, dbl, pp -660 $-790
2022 Child rates- please inquire 0 $0
2022 Upgrade to Deluxe room, per room 420 $505
2022 Upgrade to Panorama wellness suite, per room 910 $1,095
2022 Upgrade to Superior wellness suite, dbl, per room 1,050 $1,260

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2022 03/13 - 03/20 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
A 2022 04/03 - 04/10 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
A 2022 05/01 - 05/08 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
A 2022 05/22 - 05/29 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
A 2022 06/12 - 06/19 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
A 2022 09/11 - 09/18 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
A 2022 09/25 - 10/02 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
A 2022 10/09 - 10/16 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Reserve
B 2022 11/06 - 11/13 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (Low) 3 /10 Reserve

Dates Note:
There is a Self Guided trip Option available any time with 2+ riders from March-May and Sept to Dec - suitable for Experienced riders ONLY

Rates do not include:

Drinks, Gratuities & Transfers from/to Heraklion


Due to COVID-19 Corona virus pandemic and certain travel restrictions we are applying some temporary policy changes to some of our tours.

For Crete Mountain Explorer Ride (IT-GR-LAS):

For all guests that reserved a riding holiday with us in March and April, we would be happy to change your holiday to a new date. It is also possible to move your holiday to a new date in 2022. Of course, any changes in the reservation like extra booked nights or riding will be charged.

We have strict protocols for hotels in Greece. Staff must follow 4 day training and a 150 page book with all the regulations to follow.
However i am sure that we will have new rules for 2021. At the moment they are not know yet as we are in full lockdown. We will keep you informed when we are opening again.

All our staff needs to wear masks during work, with the exception of the guide during the horse treks or outdoor lessons.
All our staff gets their temperature checked daily.

Reception desk is moved outdoors and indoor contact is kept at a minimum.
Guests are requested to use the toilets inside their own room.
Check in times have changed to 15pm and departure time to 11am. So after cleaning and disinfection, the rooms are left to ventilate with open windows.

As our hotel has plenty of outdoor space we have room enough for all guests to eat at the same time and keep all the necessary physical distance.
The pool is open but we do have a maximum amount of guests that can be in the water at the same time.
Massage and face/body treatments are not possible at this time

We apologise to the guests for the use of 1 time packed products in the restaurant and rooms. But at the moment even napkins or pepper/salt are prohibited for use and are provided in 1 packed portions.

We are not allowed to enter the rooms of the guests. Not even for the cleaning. Except if the guests invite us to do so.
So guests are given the choice to have the room cleaned as normal or to have us put the clean towel on the balcony from where we will also collect the dirty wash.
We ask guests daily if they like full cleaning or just towels out.

Disinfectant gels are provided in all areas and inside the rooms.

Hotel rooms have recently been renovated to make them more spacious.
We created 3 new room types that can be booked at an extra charge:

  • Wellness rooms feature a 2 person Infrared Sauna cabin as well as a radio system, aromatherapy and colour therapy. The Superior wellness suite is located at the highest point of the hotel and it has a fantastic view on the surrounding. It also has a private balcony and a private garden with a furnished veranda and a sun deck with sunbeds. The room is equipped with the same amenities as the wellness rooms. It comes equipped with a sitting area with fireplace, a king size bed and a split level extra bedroom for an extra person.

  • Deluxe double suites (2 persons) have a private garden with sunbeds, and an open plan sitting area with a fireplace.
  • Family rooms. Families now have the choice to book the one-bedroom family suite which has a double and a single bed as well as a split level bedroom for another single bed OR the Superior family suite which consists of two connecting bedrooms.

Rooms included in the horse riding holidays are the Classic double room for 2 persons, the Family panorama suite for 3 persons and the Superior family suite for 4 persons.

The swimming pool area has a new closed off area with a 6 person heated jacuzzi with hydro massage and a lounge area for relaxing. The jacuzzi can be rented by the hour and includes Cretan sparkling wine and a fruit platter. The jacuzzi has led lights and a sound system for romantic evenings.

If guests stay in the wellness room for 7 nights they have a 1-hour jacuzzi for free.
The restaurant has now an extra 2 new verandas for all weather outdoor dining and a tremendous view of the lake. Under warm conditions the glass walls can be opened electronically from all 3 sides and the roof can also be opened/closed.
The outdoor terrace has been enlarged and covered with an electronic roof closure.


For more information please visit our COVID-19 Updates page at

Other Info
Meeting: Avdou
Airport: Heraklion International Airport
Transfer: Heraklion (Iraklion) Airport by taxi or public bus

                                            Heraklion area














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Source: NOAA

The island of Crete has a temperate Mediterranean climate. This means it experiences hot, dry summers and mild winters. Crete has the mildest climate of anywhere in Greece. Average temperatures are at their peak in July and August while January and February see the coldest temperatures of the year on average.

Different parts of Crete can experience very different weather patterns, due to the weather barrier created by the mountain ranges that stretch from east to west across the island. The south is on average a couple of degrees warmer than the north and is also drier. Similarly eastern Crete is drier and warmer than those regions in the west.

Crete straddles 2 climatic zones – Mediterranean and North African. Southern Crete falls into the North African climate zone, enjoying warmer weather and averaging over 2800 hours of sunshine a year. The varying climates on the island are reflected by the landscape and vegetation. The south can be very arid, especially in summer, while the north is more green and verdant. Southern Crete’s similarities with the North African climate are evident in the fact that African swallows remain year round rather than migrating south.

Sea temperatures around Crete are generally warm, and bathers can always swim comfortably from May right up to November. The water remains above 20 ºC during these months, peaking at 25 ºC in high summer. The sea temperature will drop to about 15 ºC in February before beginning to warm again with the onset of spring.

Springtime weather on the island can still see a number of rainy days, especially in the North, though clear and mild days are frequent as well. Temperatures can begin to hit the 20 ºCs and the sea begins to warm up.

Summer begins in earnest from June. The period June to September sees almost no rainfall and average temperatures of around 25 ºC. Daytime temperatures in mid summer are often in the low 30 ºCs, though it can sometimes reach up to 40 ºC!

Winter months, especially December to February, can be quite wet. In winter the temperature rarely falls much below double figures in lowland and coastal Crete. Normally, snow is very rare anywhere on the island apart from in the higher mountains. The mountainous regions can experience heavy snowfall in winter due to their high elevation. Snow can often remain on the higher peaks such as Mt Ida until June.

Temperatures begin to cool off in late September again and the now dry island begins to receive some much needed rainfall. Early autumn is a pleasant time with calm, clear days. The weather becomes more unstable from November on as rainy and windy days increase, though sunny days with temperatures in the low 20s C are not uncommon.

Special note – Sirocco wind
The winds that visit Crete have an important role in shaping the island’s weather patterns. Cold, wet and windy winter days are experienced when the strong northern winds hit the island. The sirocco winds arrive from the southeast bringing hot, sand filled air from the deserts of Africa. When the sirocco winds arrive the island becomes very dusty and hot and visibility can fall. However, when they blow in winter they bring warm air and pleasant temperatures. Southerly winds in the summer months can sometimes bring stifling temperatures of up to 45 ºC. On other summer days the welcome ‘meltimi’ winds arrive from the north-west bringing a much needed cooling breeze to the island. When the wind blows from the east, Crete usually experiences calm and clear weather.

What To Bring:
In the mountains it can also be cold in May or September. The hotel has laundry available.

This list is only a guideline for you


Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Visa (check with your consulate)


Riding pants or Jodhpurs (used if possible!). No jeans.
Riding boots that are also comfortable for walking. Mini chaps.
Riding helmet. Best if you bring you own. We have simple helmets for free in the stables.
Riding gloves
Hat (with chin strap) for sun protection
Lightweight Rain coat


Jacket or sweater for cool evenings
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Underwear and socks
Bag for dirty clothes
Trekking boots/ comfortable shoes
Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for the emergency)
Sewing kit
Adapter for electric appliances
Camera and enough extra film or batteries
Belt pack
Address book and pen (for postcards!)
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm