Hotel/tour package that features kayaking along the southern coast of Crete, the largest island in Greece, plus hiking along its majestic White Mountains and exploring seaside villages and Roman ruins.
The real deal: Seven nights' accommodations, some meals, public transportation, and sea kayaking for $1,160 per person.
When: Depart Sept. 9, Oct. 7, 21, 2007.
The fine print: The $1,160 price is divided between $1,025 that you pay upfront and $135 (EUR100) that you pay upon arrival. Seven breakfasts and five lunches and dinners are included. Expect to pay $200 (EUR150) for additional meals and to tip your guide about $27-$34 (EUR20-25) per week. G.A.P requires its participants to purchase medical insurance; the cost varies based on factors such as the duration of a tour and a traveler's age. Group sizes average 10 people and are limited to 12. The code for this package is GCK. Based on double occupancy; no single supplement because solo travelers are paired in twin rooms with someone of the same sex. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: G.A.P Adventures, 800/708-7761, gapadventures.com.
Why it's a deal: The package price of $1,160 breaks down to about $166 a day, and it includes accommodations, most meals, transportation by bus, three full days of kayaking, two full-day hikes and the services of an English-speaking tour guide.
Trip details: The escorted tour package includes seven nights' accommodations in local hotels chosen by the tour organizers. The journey begins in Chania, the second-largest city on Crete. Since there are no activities planned for the day, aside from a dinner and orientation, you'll be free to wander about town at your own pace, uncovering traces of the city's Byzantine, Venetian, Turkish, and German past. You'll stay overnight at the 98-room Hotel Kriti, located close to the lively Koum Kapi beach and the old Venetian harbor.
On day two, you'll travel south to Paleochora, erected on ancient Kalamidi ruins close to the Samaria, Agia Irini, and Anidri gorges. Once you complete your kayaking lessons, you can spend the remainder of the day beach-hopping and splashing in the Mediterranean Sea. (Note than no prior kayaking experience is necessary, but participants are expected to be able to swim.)
Your kayaking skills will be put to use the following day, when you'll paddle to Sougia (which roughly translates as "Pigtown"), a secluded harbor and home to a beautiful beach, a village church with 6th-century mosaics, and plenty of fresh seafood.
Next on the agenda is a fairly steep walk up the Agia Irini gorge. You'll climb 1,968 feet to the top of the gorge to have lunch while taking in the picturesque scenery. Afterwards, you'll take a bus to the plateau of Omalos, in the White Mountains (Lefka Ori), where you'll stay overnight. The Omalos highland outpost, nestled between the high crowns of the mountain, has played an important role during wars against invaders, such as the Turkish occupation.
Your fifth day will begin with a downhill forest hike to the bottom of the Samaria gorge, the deepest and narrowest gorge in all of Europe. The six-hour walk along the riverbed, with a stop to eat your packed lunch by the river, will take you to the fishing village of Agia Roumeli, where you can get some much-deserved rest and enjoy the beach. You'll spend the night in this remote village, built on the ancient site of Tarra.
Early the next morning, you'll hop in your kayak and make your way to Loutro, a fishing village nestled at the end of Cape Mouri, stopping by the church of Agios Pavlos and Marmara Beach along the way to have lunch.
On the following day, you'll paddle east, taking a swim break at Glyka Nera (Sweet Water) beach before reaching Sfakia, a large geographically isolated village on the shore of the Libyan Sea. The only relic of ancient times found in the village is a 15th-century Venetian castle.
You'll return by minibus to Chania the same day, taking the scenic route across the Imbros gorge and the Askifou plateau and around the White Mountains. You'll spend the final night of your trip in Hotel Kriti.
Optional activities include museums visits that cost about $3-$4 (EUR2-3) per person and scuba diving for $67-$108 (EUR50-80).
Bonus: You can get a 5 percent discount on your next G.A.P vacation if you submit feedback online within 30 days of completing your trip.
Getting there: The lowest round-trip fares we found on Sidestep for travel to Chania on September 9 are $1,049 from New York (multiple carriers), $1,368 from Chicago (multiple carriers), and $1,429 from Los Angeles (multiple carriers). The lowest fares departing on October 7 are $1,016 from New York City (Olympic), $1,213 from Chicago (multiple carriers), and $1,246 from Los Angeles (multiple carriers).
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.