After looking on TripAdvisor to get some ideas about what to do in Chania, I ran across a 4×4 Jeep Tour up into the White Mountains. It sounded like fun, so I booked us on a tour!
They picked us up in a 4×4 Land Cruiser near our hotel and then we went and picked up some other people in a another area of Chania. It was cool to see a different part of Chania, outside of Old Town. There was another family that joined our vehicle – a mom and her 2 older kids. They stayed pretty quiet, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to them much.
The tour was about 8 hours long, and we went up into the White Mountains of Crete. Our guide was named Thanasis, and he loved to tell stories, and was incredibly knowledgeable about Chania, Crete, and everything we saw.
Driving up into the mountains, it was interesting to see very old homes next to brand new ones. These were directly across the street from each other.
We crossed a bridge (that was American made!)
People of Crete greatly depend on bees to help their orchards thrive. Olive oil is their largest export, but they also have a large citrus fruit export as well. Depending on how warm or cold it is, they move the bee hives up and down the mountains so they can be near water.
Thanasis told us that this past winter had been their warmest winter on record, and that they did not get any snow. It also hasn’t rained as much and their reservoir was only about half full. If you look – you can see a distinct line between the brown and green vegetation where the water line usually is.
Driving up, we drove through many grape orchards and olive tree orchards.
The views were beautiful!
We made it to a winery where we got a tour and tasted some very nice wines!
The tree trunks are white with chalk to help keep parasites and insects off the trees.
We saw how they made their wines.
And then we got to sample! Yummy! So good in fact, we ordered some cases to be shipped home!
The girls got to go pick some oranges and have their own fresh squeezed orange juice!
This was the plantation dog! She fell in love with the girls and followed them around the entire time we were there.
This tree is a fusion of lemons and oranges – they are grafting them together into the same tree!
After our tasty wine tour, we drove further up into the mountains. Sheep herders live up in these mountains, and they make yummy cheese called Mizithra. It’s a combination of sheep and goat milk. The land up in the mountains is remote, with little no communication to other towns.
We met a sheep herder who agrees to let people from this tour see his hut, and his process of getting milk and making cheese. The man in the black shirt on the left is the sheep herder (he reminded me of Mr. Edwards from Little House on the Prairie!!). Almost all of the men who live in these tiny mountain villages are herders, and have been for generations.
His land and where he stays when he’s with the herd. There is no A/C, bathroom, running water, electricity, etc. It’s strictly a place to eat and sleep.
Some of the sheep.
Where he makes his cheese (the tall guy on the left is Thanasis – our guide). Once the cheese is molded into shape, it is taken into some caves higher in the mountains to mature for several months. Once cured, it is then sold in markets and to local restaurants. And you thought it was made in a nice, clean factory! Hahaha!
Once we leave the herder’s place, we continue on through the mountains to the village where the herder we met is from. His family owns and runs a restaurant in a tiny village, where we stopped to have lunch.
Oldest was happy because we let her sit up front for a small leg of the journey! Everyone rotated seats when we stopped, so no one was ever in the back for the whole trip.
You can see there nestled in the valley of these mountains is a tiny village that has a population of less than 200.
We visited an old old house. It was neat because there is a garden in front of the house where the restaurant in town gets many of it’s vegetables. The outdoor oven was the kitchen for this house. No kitchen was inside.
The family of the sheep herder owns and runs this restaurant. And man, was the food delicious!! We also all got a huge piece of lamb as our main course, but of course, I forgot to take a picture, as I was too busy eating it up!
Once we had our fill of food, it was time to head back. We came back through some gorges that criss cross through Crete. We saw some wild goats along the side of the road as well.
We passed these guys, and Thanasis said that they were about to rock climb up the cliff you see.
We finally made it back after a long, interesting day! We learned a lot about Crete, the people, and their culture. It was all very fascinating and we had a great time!