About 20kms up from the coast lies Selakano on the southeastern part of the Dikti mountains at an altitude of 930m. Both the picturesque little village as the forested mountain area carry the name Selakano.
Selakano Woods is a lush green valley and one of the most beautiful and most important surviving ecosystems of the island, and a major pine forest for the entire Mediterranean Sea.
The pine forest is the most productive apiculture (beekeeping) spot in Crete. Other trees include kermes oaks, plane trees, maples, cypresses and cultivated fruit trees. The woods have many paths for excellent hiking in any season. The famous E4-path goes through the valley. When you follow it westwards it heads up the Dikti mountains to Varsami (2,5 hours), and east you can walk up to the Katharo plateau (1,5 hours) or down to Males and, further on to Prina (5,5 hours).
There’s also a gorge to hike, between Selakano and Metaxochori, called Parsas. And then there is the cave of the fairies, Neraidogoula, a mysterious place where sometimes (even in August), inexplicably, large quantities of water flow out. According to legend, it happens when the fairies get angry. The cave lies at an altitude of 1320m against the mountains. Walking there from the village takes about 1,5 to 2 hours. If you have a 4WD you can also drive a big part up and from there it takes a good half hour to the cave.
There is a path that goes there, passing the rock of the bees ((which also has a legend attached to it), fresh water streams, a beautiful view point and goes through the densest part of the pine forest. To get to the entrance is a little tricky and you have to be very careful there. Inside it’s very cold and of course pitch dark. A good lamp is essential. After crawling through a small space, and through another opening, the cave opens up to a large room with stalagmites and a small lake.
A dusty road goes all around the valley through the forest and is beautiful to drive. Goats and sheep are everywhere and the view down to the sea keeps popping up through the trees. For the west part of the road you do need a 4WD. The area is amazingly beautiful, full of pine trees and beehives, gorges, springs and steep slopes. Selakano is surrounded by the high peaks of the Dikti mountains, and you can look down at the Lybian sea in the distance. Birds like hawks and vultures fly high over head, and bees are everywhere from July till September. A tip from the local kafenion: don’t wear anything red when you go into the forests in summer, the bees don’t like it (or like it too much). In winter it can be quite cold up there and sometimes it is covered in snow, making it very hard to get there (or away from it). After the hiking go for a coffee or some good local food in Stella’s little kafenion in the middle of the village, opposite the church. Highly recommended to go, most amazing place to walk and hike, in any season. My absolute top tip for hiking in Lasithi!
Other sights in the same area:
- Dikti mountains
- Panagia Exakousti
- Sarakania gorge