Most of the visitors of the island who seek to discover the luscious flora and fauna of Crete have visited or will visit the lake of Kournas. It is the only natural, freshwater lake in Crete, just 2.5 km from the sea and 4 km from the seaside town of Georgioupolis. Adjacent is located the mountain village of Kournas and the edges of the White Mountains (“Lefka Ori”) that create a magical landscape and offer a unique experience to the people who will come to visit it.
Home to a large number of birds and animals, Lake Kournas is the place where you can encounter moorhens, ducks, geese, herons, cormorants, eels, water snakes, goldfish and rare species of turtles who are permanent residents of this friendly wetland.
The scenery at the lake is truly majestic and creates the illusion that you fell into the pages of a fairy tale! It makes you feel like fairies and spirits will jump out of their hideouts and start dancing on the tranquil waters. So, even though most people have heard about the lake, how many of you know the tale that hides behind it…? Just like any lake that respects itself the lake of Kournas has its own legend and of course, its own nymph.
According to the myth and the folk narrations, the nymph of the water was once the daughter of a villager who sat down with her father on the spot where the lake is today. Her father, bewitched by her beauty, was tempted and approached her with wicked intentions. The girl, terrified, cried out “Sink , Lake, sink, and I a spirit in the lake!” The spirits of the lake heard her cry, took pity on her and made her wish come true. The ground shook and sank with a terrible noise, leaving a lake where the valley had been, and the unfortunate maiden took refuge in its dark waters.
The locals like to narrate that, even nowadays, the nymph rises from the depths of the lake to sit under the moonlight and brush her hair… If you are interested in discovering forgotten myths and chasing beautiful nymphs, the Lake of Kournas is a place you must visit during your stay on Crete!
This time of year the lake changes size, as the locals say, as the level drops in late summer, revealing a thick layer of white sand which forms temporary beaches. These months, the lucky visitors can walk along the bank all the way round the lake. The full circuit takes no more than an hour. If you visit Lake Kournas in winter or spring, remember that the lake rises as far as the steps down from the road, so the beaches disappear.
Feel like a genuine Cretan explorer and have a look at the following video: