KOURNAS LAKE & NATURE RESERVE

 

Kournas situated in Apokoronas region of Crete 47 km from Hania on the boarder of Rethymnon Prefecture and is a fairly large village perched on a hill overlooking the lake and gave its name to the water, which is Crete's single fresh water lake that serves mainly the irrigation of the surrounding fields. Kournas is still a working village and has seen less depopulation than some of its neighbours. Lake Kournas is just 3 km from the village of Yeorgioupolis and the sea, yet deeply embedded in the Cretan mountains is where you find this only natural freshwater lake on the island. The Lake is relatively large, with a perimeter of 3.5 km. It used to be called 'Korisia' after ancient 'Korion', a city thought to be in the area which had a temple to the Goddess Athena and took its name from the Arabic word 'kourna' meaning lake.  

 

With a panorama almost reminiscent of an alpine mountain lake, set in the spurs of the Lefka Ori and as with all alpine lakes, the mountains and sky are reflected in the water, which changes greatly during the course of the days sunlight from pale green to deep blue. The surrounding hillsides have a height difference of 550 metres which creates a strong air currents around the lake which ensures a unique flight if you enjoy parascending. The almost circular lake has a diameter of about 1.5 km and has in places a depth of 45 m albeit, it is not easily measured because the water sources comes up out of the ground under high pressure. However, it does reach a maximum depth . Although dependent on what you read the depth still remains something of a mystery!  It is thought there may be an underground lake nearby. It is fed by springs, beautifully described by the local people as the 'eyes of the lake'. It is said that the lake used to be full of eels but now is better known for its terrapins. 

 

Kournas still retains its serenity and beauty, with the mountains reflected in the mirror-like waters. The crystal clear water of the lake serve to supply drinking water of a high quality as well irrigating the fields. The lake used to be reportedly full of eels but now is better known for its terrapins. A small sandy strip edges the shore in summer, while in winter after many rainy days, nearby trees and bushes are under water. A narrow path allows the visitor to walk around the lake is only in the late summer and autumn with low water and can take about an hour.

 

 

It is pleasant to bathe in the lake but it is also good fun to take one of the pedal boats and get close to nature. If your lucky and patient enough, the observant ones of you may catch a glimpse of  the lakes inhabitants kingfishers, crabs and terrapins as well as geese and ducks.  The lake with its highly transparent water is also gladly used as a drink by the numerous goats whose bells can often be heard from the surrounding slopes.

 

There are several legends as always around a lake. One story says that every Saturday the virgin of the lake comes to sit at the waters edge whilst combing her long hair!  

 

Between Kournas Lake and the village of Kournas, is the cave of Kournas with an excellent view of the lake. The cave is not big, 35 metres in depth, but it has many stalactites, stalagmites, and natural pillars. The cave may be reached by a path from the main road, near the taverna.

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  More Round the Island pages
: Beaches - Western Crete : Apokoronas : Hania Town : Kournas Lake : Aptera :
: Frangokastello : Gramvousa : Spinalonga : Monasteries

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