Lake Kournas is actually the only large natural lake in Crete and is located in an enchanting landscape, surrounded by high mountains and olive groves. It is located near the village Kournas, 2.5km south of the beach of Georgioupolis, 43km east of Chania and 20km west of Rethymnon.
The lake has been created by the accumulation of groundwater coming from the White Mountains. The water gushes from a spring called Amati or Mati (meaning “eye”), which is over the lake surface in the summer months, while it’s hidden below the surface during winter. There is a second spring, which is always underneath the surface.
The lake is small and circular and covers an area of 579 acres, has maximum depth 22.5 m, maximum length 1080m and maximum width of 880m. The volume of water in summer is approximately 7.5 million cubic meters. The water is transported to the sea via the river Delfinas.
In some parts of the lake, overflow and drainage works can be seen, that are used for diverting water to the farmland and to the sea.
Flora and Fauna
Kournas Lake and its surroundings constitute a very important ecosystem for Greece. Kournas is one of the very few areas of Crete where plenty of fresh water is stored throughout the year. For this reason, it is protected under the Natura 2000 program.
The lake is surrounded by lush vegetation composing of rare aquatic plants and trees. The dark color of the water is caused by the weed.
Many species of birds find shelter here, like moorhens, ducks, herons and cormorants. Also, the lake has always been known for its eels. This wetland also hosts water snakes and terrapins. Especially for the terrapins, a rare type of terrapin lives here (Malaclemys terrapin) with spots on its shell.
Unfortunately, during the last years, goldfish has appeared in the lake. This indicates that someone has released them into the lake, without the considering that this action might disturb the balance of this closed ecosystem.
What to see
Lake Kournas is a favorite destination for visitors of Crete and locals. It is an ideal place for relaxation and a walk. In summer, a stroll around the turquoise lake lasts less than an hour (3.5 km).
On one side of the lake there are cafes and restaurants overlooking the lake. Adjacent to the cafes, small beaches with white sand are formed during the summer, as the water surface reached lower levels. Visitors can swim at these beaches and rent umbrellas.
Read more: http://www.cretanbeaches.com/Lakes/Lakes/kournas-lake/#ixzz3T2anU4U9