“ Country: Greece / World Region: Europe „
The lake is in Crete near Georgiopolis.
We drove from Gerani near Rethmynon to Lake Kournas in about 15 minutes; it is just off the main highway near Georgiopolis on Crete. The road meanders around and then you come to a tiny signpost pointing down between two houses only just wide enough for a car to squeeze through. We turned in thinking that this must be a mistake, but it was indeed the road. No wonder all cars on Crete seem to have some scrape or other on their body work. I am pretty certain that it is only possible to get to this place by car so you will need to hire one or get a taxi from Georgiopolis I guess.
When we arrived there was plenty of parking under trees for shade just near a tavern. We did notice that as we were leaving at about 2pm that there were not so many spaces so going early was a good plan.
This large beautiful fresh water lake is surrounded by mountains or hills and gets its name from a derivation of the Arabic word for lake . We were told it was the only freshwater lake on Crete but on some websites they state that there are two freshwater lakes so I don't know. The lake reaches a depth of 25metres and covers an area of about 160,000 square metres.
There is a 360° photo view which does give an excellent idea of the lake and its setting at this link:
After visiting the toilet facilities at the tavern we headed down to the lake. It was a splendid sight. The lake was such an obvious 3 colours, clearer olive green at the shore then turquoise then as it got deeper it was a dark sapphire blue, the whole lake was surrounded by hills and the sky was bright blue - truly idyllic. Once you waked in the water it was as clear as glass and the two boys had a wonderful time looking for interesting pebbles (dinosaur fossils!)
There is a sandy beach along the lake edge with sun loungers and umbrellas which we soon discovered came at a price (4 Euros for two sun loungers and one umbrella) which is okay if you plan on staying all day but as we only had them for about an hour and a half and had two sets made it quite expensive really. There were lots of scrubby trees which you could also sit under to get some shade and we might have been better there except we had nothing to sit on - all the locals brought their own chairs etc and camped under the trees.
In order to get into the lake for a swim you did have to negotiate quite a long stretch of rocky lake bed which was also quite slippery - not very easy at all. I left my trusty crocs behind so I hobbled across carefully. Once you were in it was delightful but you then had to hobble you way out again - definitely recommend water shoes for this visit in future. It was nice to have a beach with no waves and fresh water as the boys were not too keen on the salt water splashing in their eyes.
We hired a pedalo ( 7 Euros a half hour) and pedalled across the lake - easy going out but the current/wind was against us on the way back and it was extremely hard work and took twice as long to return. My daughter and son-in-law jumped off to have a swim and my husband joined them. When I saw how difficult it was to climb back in I was glad that I volunteered to stay with the grandsons.
There are a number of geese that wander round and become very friendly when they think you might have something to eat. They didn't really bother us but did come very close to our sun beds and one was trying to read my book with me. Despite having umbrellas we didn't stay in the sun too long and after having a relax on the sun loungers for about 20 minutes we were persuaded by two hungry boys that it was lunch time.
We went up to the little taverna overlooking the lake for lunch. We sat under the shade of trees listening to cicadas which were singing so loudly that it hard to hear each other talk at times. Much to the excitement of our grandsons the waiter caught a cicada and showed them it singing, up close before he let it go. We were able to enjoy our meal and the view and while we were waiting for our food the boys played on a little play area. The food was normal Greek fare and the boys shared squid and chips, while others had souvlaki and mousaka, I had a Greek salad as I am very fussy about my meat and only eat it when I am 100% sure of not finding fatty bits!
Apparently there is a legend or myth about this lake which tells that the villagers of Kournas were so sinful that there was only one virgin left in the village. God decided he had had enough of all this sinfulness and sent rain which flooded the valley and the village. The priest's daughter's soul being pure was saved and released to look after the local wildlife in and on the shores of Lake Kournas.The myth continues that every night at midnight, she rises up from the waters with her long hair flowing over her body to feed the fish.
In order to keep the purity of the lake it has been decided that no motorised transport is allowed to cross the lake so that the lady of lake remains uncontaminated. Today you can hire the pedaloes but there is no waterskiing or other motor boat activity and this not only keeps the lady of the lake uncontaminated but also makes it a beautiful peaceful place to relax.
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A picturesque lake, 48 km east of Chania.