Dragon Cave, Sfakia

We'd never heard of dragon cave until a German tour guide, Florian Knaack, dropped by at Taverna Koulieris to purchase some of Georgios wonderful honey. During our brief and friendly conversation, he mentioned that he was going there the very next day, privately, together with an old friend, and offered to take us with him. We jumped at the chance, replanning our itenary as one only can do while on holiday.

Cretan Tour Guide Florian Knaack

Florian Knaack

So next morning we drove from Anopoli through Aradena to Aghios Ioanis, where we met Florian and his friend. The journey from there to dragon cave starts by car – through village backstreets and out onto a very rocky dirt road, a half hour drive up into the mountains which I almost balked at in our city car. But we made it, parked and continued on foot. The cave is not signed anywhere, and the path there is literally through the middle of nowhere; it would be almost impossible to find were there not a succession of stone piles roughly marking the way. It's easy walking with a little clambering, no climbing is needed, and it takes about 1½ hours one way.

Our visit to dragon cave was one of the absolute highlights of our holiday – if you can find a guide to take you there, then don't miss it!

From Aghios Ioanis to Dragon Cave - 1

Click on picture for a slideshow
The first 13 pictures document the footpath to get there – although you'll be hard-pressed to keep to it even with them. The mouth of the cave itself is very hard to find, being hidden from view behind a rock outcrop a few meters above what looks like the start of a gorge. The next 7 pictures were taken in the cave itself with a smartphone camera and using its flashlight (indeed we needed to use the flashlight on a permanent basis to light our way - better to bring a headlamp with you). The last 4 shots show the road junctions in Aghios Ioanis in returning order, with our car showing which branch to take.

Dragon Cave is really awesome

Many of us have seen caves made accessible to the public, or on TV. But dragon cave, being so remote and little known, is 100% nature – you'll see no sign of it ever having been trodden by another human being. It's said to have a navigable length of about 2km, whereby a vertical wall requiring climbing gear stops most visitors after about 300m. At the mouth of the cave you must scramble into it down a 45° loose shale slope for about 10m, after which the rest is just careful walking. The daylight quickly fades and after about 50m one is in (felt) total darkness (and rather cool air). Switch off your torch, hum, sing, listen to how the sound waves reverberate... Even more impressive are the stalagmites and stalagtites revealed in the torchlight, as you can see in the slideshow.

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