Crete Flora and Fauna

Apart from its many historic sights and tourist attractions, Crete also lends itself to various activities such as diving and trekking, offering its visitors a chance to immerse themselves in its natural beauty. It boasts an abundance of endemic plants and flowers, wild forests, deep ravines and rare animals.

There are eight different types of habitats: coastal, lowland, sub-mountainous (300-800 meters above sea level), mountainous (800-1,800 m), sub-alpine (1,800-2,200 m), and alpine (over 2,200 m). Other types of ecosystems comprise wetlands, gorges and ravines. With breathtaking flora and fauna, this region is a delight for nature lovers. Many of these zones, such as the Samaria Gorge, have been classified as protected or have been converted into wildlife refuges.

It is estimated that Crete is home to more than 2,000 plant species, including an impressive number of endemic ones (at least 160), which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Some of the more interesting plant species are the sea lily, which figured prominently in Minoan decorative patterns, as well as the sea violet, both of which grow in the coastal regions. Other common plants comprise the Cretan ebony tree, citrus and plane trees, olives and carobs. Of course, there is also a plethora of wildflowers, including over 40 known species of orchids. The semi-mountainous zone is characterized by cyclamens, kermes oaks and spiny broom, while, in the mountainous zone, visitors can see Cretan tulips springing up among maples, chestnuts and cypresses. The island also abounds in world-famous aromatic herbs, the most famous one being dittany (also known as erondas).

In terms of fauna, Chania is famous for the Cretan wild goat also known as kri-kri, which now survives mostly in Samaria Gorge. However, there are also various other rare species, such as the Cretan spiny mouse, the endangered Cretan wild cat (also known as fourogatos), and the Messara (Georgalidiko) horse, a horse breed that is native of Crete and does not exist anywhere else in the world. It has lived on the island at least since the Preminoan era and it is considered the oldest breed on European soil. At the same time, there are numerous bird species, such as badgers, the golden eagle and the rare bearded vulture. Sea turtles, a magnificent species, can also be found in coastal regions.

Nature is at its best in spring when all wildflowers bloom, the countryside is refreshingly beautiful and animals move with a spring in their steps. Exploring the natural beauty of Chania is a truly wonderful experience you should definitely not miss.