Written and explored by “Peripeton”
While the inhabitants of Western Crete are lucky enough to enjoy four mountain refuges of the Greek Mountaineering Club, in Heraklion they have only one - but one of the best! The particularity of this mountain refuge, located on the eastern slope of Mount Ida (Psiloritis), is that it offers an unobstructed view of a vast region spanning the entire island, from the city of Heraklion to Asterousia Mountains.
To reach the mountain refuge of Prinos we first had to drive from Heraklion to the semi-mountainous village of Kato Asites (about half an hour’s drive away), following the road Heraklion-Voutes-Agios Mironas. There are actually two ways to access the refuge: either from Ano Asites (altitude 500m) walking up the trail for about 2 hours (or more, if there is snow), or from Kato Asites. There, things are a bit more complicated but potentially easier: from Kato Asites starts a rough dirt road, only accessible by 4x4 vehicles – especially in winter. This road, however, brings us just 45 minutes away from the refuge on foot, following a trail along the hillside with stunning views (we took the second option and found someone in the village to drive us there with a small fee).
The feeling of seeing at the same time the island of Dia, Heraklion, the Cretan Sea, Mount Dikti, Mount Youchtas, Asterousia Mountains and the Libyan Sea is something unique.
The feeling of seeing at the same time the island of Dia, Heraklion, the Cretan Sea, Mount Dikti, Mount Youchtas, Asterousia Mountains and the Libyan Sea is something unique. The snowy landscape around us contrasts the green valley at the foot of the mountain and the blue sea further away, composing a rare scenery that rewards us as we climb from 480 m. up to 1085 m. where the refuge is located.
Getting there is so easy, it took us less than 3 hours in total to arrive there from Heraklion, making the route doable even for a day trip. In fact, we met several hikers in the refuge that just came to spend the afternoon.
For the more adventurous, there is the option to walk on European E4 trail to the forest of Rouvas (4 hours) and the plateau of Nida (8 hours). The nearest summits with magnificent panoramic views is Koudouni (1.860 m.) and Giristi (1.779 m.).
If you decide to spend the night, the refuge offers a warm and pleasant space that accommodates up to 30 persons. The two rooms of the refuge are heated with wood-burning stoves. There is a kitchen stove with gas and wood, utensils, dishes and whatever else one may need to cook. In the second floor there are two rooms with bunk beds and large closets with blankets for everyone.
Keep in mind that the refuge depends on the self-organization and self-reliance skills of its guests. This means, you are responsible for keeping it pretty and clean and you need to bring your own supplies (food, coffee, toothpaste, toilet paper, ect). You also need to divide your trash to organic, recyclable -and not- and take it with you when you leave. As the old hikers used to say “when we depart from a place, we need to leave it better than we found it”.
The first step to organizing your trip to Prinos Mountain Refuge is to call the Greek Mountaineering Club of Heraklion to make sure the refuge is open and that there is space.
Monday to Friday from 20:30 to 22:30: Tel. +30 2810 227 609, Cellular: 697 153 5328* (*only on weekends)
Refuge tel.: 697 657 6070