local products Kournas

art, jewellery and more...

activities and walks

In Mandali  you will find products from local producers: olive oil, honey, raki, olives, herbs, essentail oils and olive soap.

In the silent, rural area of Kournas you will discover a variety of flowers, trees, herbs and some wildlife. 


local products
memories of Crete
Mandali shop

 olive oil, honey and other local products from Crete

In the centre of the village Kournas, 4 kilometres north of the Kournas Lake and 7 kilometres from Georgioupolis,  you will find the shop "Mandali".

Here you buy olive oil from Crete and thymehoney straight from the farmer.

Also other local products from Crete and unique items made by craftsmen, artists, and manufacturers are for sale here.


Barbara, from the Netherlands, opened the shop in 2016 with the aim to support the local farmers, the craftsmen and artists and to make the small traditional village Kournas more lively.


Come to Kournas to taste and see for yourself!


Information about Kournas village, holiday accommodation, events and activities you can get at Mandali. Barbara will be pleased to help you to make your stay on Crete unforgettable.

Inspired by nature and made from natural materials are the symbols of the unique artworks and jewellery in Mandali.

Mandali is closed in wintertime

we will be open in April 2022

shop inside

videos from Mandali 

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Do you want to order local products from Mandali?

Click HERE for the order list

My name is Barbara, I am from The Netherlands and my husband Arno and I spent a lot of our holidays here on Crete. We travelled all over the island and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, hospitable Cretans, the delicious, healthy food and fine climate.


We visited almost all major towns and villages, attractions and "places-to-be" and every time we discovered special places, we met lovely, exceptional people, and were impressed by all aspects of this beautiful island.


In the southwest of Crete, we organized walking holidays and in 2010 Arno and I made our dream come true and we moved to Crete.

The beautiful green municipality Apokoronas in the prefecture Chania had our preference. We found a house in the village of Kournas. A small, traditional village, just 4 kilometres from the Kournaslake and only 5 kilometres from the north coast, with a sandy beach. 

about Mandali and me


the traditional mountainvillage  Kournas

I enjoy life in the small village of Kournas and during my work in tourism, I also noticed that tourists like to visit the traditional mountain villages. But sometimes these visits have some obstacles: where to park the car, what can you do, what is interesting to visit, etc.


So I began to think: the village Kournas might get more visitors and should become a little more "alive and kicking". Visitors should be given the opportunity to discover the daily village life.

But how?


With a lot of support (and hard work) from my husband Arno, in March 2016 my dream came true and my shop was a fact: "Mandali, local products and more..."
Looking for a name for my shop I choose "Mandali". This word comes from Mandala, it is in the old Sanskrit language and it means circle, connection, community. 

The logo, the circle of life, fits it well, I thought. "Mandali" also means a circle of people dancing together.

And ... I like to draw and color mandalas.

I got an idea and with this idea, I got the chance to follow the study "Women Innovators for Social Businesses in Europe" at the ESA (European Sustainable Academy) in Drapanos, here on Crete. 

I learned a lot about starting a social business and slowly my idea became a plan, and finally it became a reality.


I would start with opening a shop in Kournas where I could sell the local products, such as olive oil and honey, straight from the farmer and producer. And I could give visitors and tourists some information about Kournas.


Activities in Kournas

In the future I would like to expand the activities in cooperation with the villagers and organize cooking-courses, picking herbs, workshops Cretan dances, helping farmers with harvesting olives, pressing grapes, building a museum with tools, pictures and stories from yesterday etc.


In this way, Kournas could become alive and kicking again. And the locals can get the opportunity to share their knowledge, their talents en their stories.



And I would like to bring the donkeys back to Kournas. In 2018 this wish came through: we bought 2 donkeys and in 2019 we adopted an adult donkey and one of our donkeys gave birth to a foal. Now we have a herd with 4 donkeys.

Mandali in Kournas


you are welcome to join me

at Mandali, at the story table


Do you want to stay informed of new activities of Mandali and the latest news from Kournas?
Sign up for the Mandali Mail

Donkeys and us
Barbara ,Bartje and Mandali



Also this year our holiday destination was Crete. And for the first time, our son and daughter would join us for a week.
We wanted to let them enjoy all the beauty that Crete has to offer.

We were in Georgioupolis, in Loutro, in the cities of Chania and Rethymnon and also drove and walked many kilometres around Georgioupolis.

You can read our experiences and adventures here.



This year we did not only spent our holiday on Crete, but we were also in Nafplion on the mainland of Greece.
In Crete we were in Georgioupolis and Loutro, and we went to the west side of the island.


There we visited Elafonissi, Elos and on the north coast Skoutelonas, Afrata and Kolimbari. If you want to read what we experienced during this holiday, read on here.

Sheep on the road
butterfly gorge



In May we organized a walking week in Loutro with 5 guests from the Netherlands and Belgium. After this, we stayed for another 2 weeks in Crete and we went on another journey of discovery to the west of the island.
Just like in previous years, we were in Georgioupolis and the surrounding area.

You can read here what we experienced during this holiday.

Aradena kloof

Many people who spend their holidays on Crete are often surprised by the versatility of the island: Crete has everything: beautiful, untouched nature, mountains and plateaus, sea and lakes with freshwater, picturesque villages and large cities, simple rooms for rent and luxurious hotels, many hours of sunshine and heavy rain showers.

And I haven't even mentioned the friendly, hospitable people, the delicious, healthy food, the relaxed lifestyle and much more ...
And with this surprise, our first introduction to Crete started.


It started with a holiday on Crete
Since 2000 we came to Crete every year, to enjoy a wonderful relaxing, but also a sportive holiday.

At one point we even came twice a year: in May and September.
And every time as we arrived at the airport and breathed the warm Cretan air, we felt like we were coming home. And every time we went back to the Netherlands, it was hard to say goodbye.


During one of our holidays on Crete, we wondered if it would be possible to live (and work) on this beautiful island. We asked many Cretan friends and acquaintances for information, and we also talked a lot with people who already lived and worked here.


And this year, 2022, we have been living and working here for 12 years now!


Experiences on Crete
Because many people regularly ask us how we ended up in Crete, I looked for our holiday experiences, and I am happy to share them with you.


our holidays on Crete



Our first holiday to Crete was in 2000 when we stayed in Gouves, on the East side of Crete, in an apartment owned by Michalis and his family called "John and Mary".


Would you like to read how our first introduction to Crete was?
Click here for a report with some photos, still made with a roll of film. Unfortunately, the quality of the photos is not that good.



In 2001 Crete was again our holiday destination.
Now we went to the south-east coast and stayed in Mirtos, Achlia and Agia Fotia.

Do you want to read what we experienced and what we saw during this holiday? Click here for a report.


These photos were also taken with a roll of film, so not very good quality.



In this year too, Crete became our holiday destination.
This time we discovered the "Wild-West" of Crete and we were in Paleochora, Loutro and Georgioupolis.

You can read our experiences and adventures on the west side of the island here.
And also in this year, we used a camera with rolls of film, so the quality of these scanned photos is not that great.



In May we went to Crete again, to enjoy a wonderful holiday.
This year we started in Georgioupolis, but we were also in Plakias and Loutro. Before we went back to the Netherlands we also visited our 1st-holiday address in Gouves.


And even now we still took pictures with an analogue camera.

Here you can read where we were and what we experienced.


Do you want to know what our life on Crete looks like now?
Read it on the BLOG page

olive oil, honey and more local products

The local products with the "Kournas" label we buy directly from the farmers and small producers in Kournas and surrounding. I am proud to offer you fair products from Crete with high quality for a good price.

Of course, you can taste and test the products, so you know what you are buying.



Crete is famous for the thyme honey and this tasteful honey you can buy and taste at Mandali.
In Kournas we have several beekeepers who have their beehives in the areas where the thyme is blooming. 



olive oil



The Cretan wines are getting more and more wellknown and also in this area  you will see a lot of vineyards. 

The Red and white wine are very popular, and in the hot summer people also drink the rose wine. 




The most famous herb of Crete is the thyme, but there are much more healthy and tastful herbs growing here. We don't only  use them in the food, also in a healthy tea they will taste perfect. 


Very special is the "Malotira", the Cretan mountain tea and the "diktamos"

raki with coffee

Lavender oil


Just outside Kournas, is the small farm  "Lavender Way", where Gill and Derek cultivate the colorful and fragrant lavender.

They produce organic, essential lavender oil and a refreshing aromatic lavender hydrosol spray.

Looking for items to make the assortment in Mandali complete I have found some special products, made in small businesses here on Crete.

local products from Crete

Olive oil

The olive oil "Kournas" is produced in the olive oil factory in the village. The olives are growing near the village and for the farmer and his family the quality of the olive oil is very important. They ensure that the trees and the fruit remain healthy in a natural way, without the use of chemicals.

Tsikoudia raki


The traditional drink raki is called "tsikoudia" on Crete and it is distilled from the residues after pressing the grapes.

It is a strong drink, it contains nearly 40% alcohol.
A good raki you can recognize by the taste and flavor of the grapes.

raki liqueur


Many people find the raki too strong. But added with fruit, herbs or honey.

It becomes a delicious sweet liqueur and it contains less alcohol.
Mandali offers you raki liqueur with honey, with lemon and with coffee.



Crete is famous for its olives and especially in the area of ​​Kournas you will see the olivetrees with the small type "Koronaika" olive. The "Kournas" green olives are preserved with salt, lemon and water and the black olives are preserved with some herbs in salt water.



Not typical Cretan, but very tasty is the marmelade, made with the delicious lemons, figs and the Quince that grow here on Crete.


Do you want to stay informed of new activities of Mandali and the latest news from Kournas?
Sign up for the Mandali Mail

Eladia oliveoil soap


The olive oil soap from Eladia is handmade, from the collection of raw materials to the packaging. This mild soap is moisturizing your skin and contains the therapeutic herbs from Crete. We have also 2 soaps for your hair.

Eladia soap

Essential oil


The essential oils and hydrosols are distilled by ourselves from herbs picked in the area of  Kournas.


Vitex Kriti is a special hydrosol distilled from the chaste tree.



New in our range is the Cretan Ouzo, a herbal distillate of various herbs, including anise.
A delicious   aperitif, without sugar.

art, jewelery and more ...

At Mandali I offer you a wide selection of unique products from the skilful hands of local artists and craftsmen. Decorated candles, paintings, jewelery, gift cards, wooden treasure boxes and other small gifts that you will definitely appreciate.

And if you are looking for a special gift for your friends and relatives, just don't forget to take home a little something for yourself as well.


hand made, original gift cards with envelop, for men, women and

Colorful stones with painted mandala and nature motifs.



unique handmade paintings from the local artist Katy, inspired by the beautiful beaches of




Colliers made from Tagua nuts, the eco-ivory, every piece is unique.

Colored and natural, small and larger. Made and designed by Icor

treasure boxes


small and bigger wooden boxes for your treasures, jewellery or diary.

Unique and beautifully decorated

Glass jewellery


colliers and bracelets made from glass and inspired by the Cretan beaches and shells.  

Made by the local artist Katy


Wood Necklaces


unique, natural necklaces made from the wood of the mulberry trees

Tagua orange
mulberry collier
collier glass



Using a good detailed map helps you to discover  the real Crete. The walking and hiking maps from "Anavasi" also contain extra information for walkers.


Walking books


A must have  for walkers of the E4 path in the "Cretan Way". With routes, suggestions for staying overnight and  a lot of background information

Cretan knives


The Cretan knives play an important role in the Cretan culture. The knives are handmade by "Armenis" and have an engraved Cretan Mantinade (poem) 




The postcards from Kournas village and surroundings are unique and designed by Mandali.




With the walkingbooks from "Discover Crete on foot" you can make a lot of walks in the province Apokoronas

walking booklets
walking booklet
Tagua naturel
Cretan way


Handmade ceramics from one of the oldest potteries on Crete  "Tsikalario", is now available at Mandali. Small en bigger bowls, oil lamps and candlelights.



 A "friend" with whom you can share all the fun, worries and grief. And who helps to put everything in a row, while the worry beads quietly slip through your fingers.


We choose komboloi made from natural. materials such as wood from walnut. Also wooden bracelets you will find at Mandali.

Do you want to stay informed of new activities of Mandali and the latest news from Kournas?
Sign up for the Mandali Mail


On Crete, the kitchen attributes made of olive wood are very popular. We have in our shop various spoons, cutting boards, honey pots and even soup spoons.


All products are handmade from well-dried olive wood and are intended for years of use in the kitchen.

Kournas, a traditional village with character

view Kournas

In the small villages of Crete, you will find the friendly hospitality and proud tradition of receiving guests. The Cretans are known for their generosity and their friendly reception of travelers, guests and visitors.

In Kournas you can still experience the simple village life, here you will experience the real Crete. Here you can smell the fresh herbs, you can wander in the olive groves and taste the local products, from olives, olive oil to fresh fruit, wine and raki.

It seems as if time has stood still in Kournas: the men of the village are discussing the news of the day in the kafenion, the women ask each other what they will cook today and the children play safely in the street.

Who makes a walk through the village will see many old and renovated traditional houses. The narrow streets are just wide enough to let pass a donkey. Cars drive on the new, wider roads.

Outside the village you can still see the ladies who pick the herbs and wild vegetables for the daily meal.

Kournas is located 5 kilometers from the beach of Kavros (Georgioupoli municipality) and 4 km from the lake Kournas. Situated at the foot of the mountain Dafnomadaras (1680 meters) the village is safe at a height of nearly 250 meters.

In 1583 Kournas was already mentioned as a village with plenty of activities and the town has played an important role during the Ottoman occupation. In 1866 Kournas was the center of the Revolutionary Government and in 1897 the village was the seat of the Cretan Assembly.

Kournas is a small village that still has the traditional Cretan character: a small square with a beautiful view and surrounded by a tavern, a small supermarket, a local shop and of course the statue of a local hero. Mulberry trees and large planetree provide wonderful shade in the hot summer months.

At various places in the village there are beautiful views. You can see the Almyros Bay, the villages Georgioupolis and Kavros and along the countryside, in the direction of Rethymnon you can see the villages Kastellos, Dramia and Episkopi.

Also the first mountains of the imposing Lefka Ori (White Mountains) are visible from Kournas. In winter and spring the white snow on the mountain peaks and the bluest sky gives us a spectacular panorama.

There are approximately 550 people living in Kournas and in the centre you will find a small supermarket, a kafenion, a bakery,

a ouzeri, a shop with local products "Mandali" a ceramics shop and three restaurants. There is also a primary school, which is visited by more than 120 children from Kournas and surrounding villages.

Just before the centre of the village, you will see the community centre with a large square and a stage wherein summertime weddings, baptisms, plays, and parties are being held.
Next to the community centre there is the football pitch and a children's playground.

Across the playground is the olive oil factory, where every year from November, olives are being pressed.

The Greek Orthodox faith is very important in the life of the Cretans and the church and the many small churches and chapels are being maintained very well by the locals.

In and around Kournas there are 11 churches and the most special, and also two of the oldest Byzantine churches on Crete,  are the Agia Irini and the Agios Georgios, built in 1200 AD.

On April 23 is the celebration of the name day of Agios Georgios Church and on May 5, the name day of Agia Irini is celebrated.

Kournas is a year-round lively village: in summer and in winter there is live music in the taverns, in September people press the grapes at various locations in the village and in October it is time to distill the "tsikoudia" (the Cretan raki) in the two "Kazanis"

On August 16 the Community of Kournas is organizing its annual festival on the square of the community center with a performance by the popular musician-singer Nikos Zoiidakis.

On August 29 the villagers celebrate the feast of St. John the Baptist, along with friends, family and tourists. On the terraces of the taverns "Babis" and "Kali Kardia"  you can enjoy live music and dancing.


So, get on the bus, start the car, grab the bike or motorbike,

put on your walking shoes and come to Kournas,

you are welcome !!!

men with goats

daily life


traditional village

old house

center of the village

religious celebrations

party time

Agios Geogios Church

If you want to get to know the area and the village a little bit better, then you are welcome at the hikes with one of the donkeys or the botanical walk EXTRA.

You can read more information about this on the page walking

where you can meet donkeys

Man on donkey

walking with donkeys


Take a look at our Facebook page for the latest news and pictures


eat, drink and celebrate in Kournas

In Kournas are three restaurants, where still the traditional Cretan dishes are cooked. From many miles away people come to enjoy the delicious home-made food.  Also the locals are regular guests in the taverns, especially on Sunday, when mostly the "kokoretsi" or the "Anti Christo" is on the menu.

music and dance

In the summer months in almost all the villages you can enjoy the "panagiri", the feast of the village, And also in Kournas there is regularly something to celebrate.
Not only the villagers, but also tourists from the region come to the village to celebrate the feast.


So if you're in the area ... come over and let's celebrate!!!

The first party is on April 23, when the name day of St. Georgios is celebrated in the church with the same name in Kournas. The Papas (priest) of the village is also called Georgios, so you understand that this festival will be celebrated in a good way. After the service, everyone is welcome at the square at the church where the tables and chairs are already in place with the blessed bread, pilaf rice, meat and wine.

On August 16, the annual village-festival is celebrated with a live performance of the famous musician and singer Nikos Zoiidakis. On the square next to the community-centre there is room enough for the hundreds of guests who celebrate this party until the early hours.  Like at most of the parties, you can enjoy your meal here and taste the local wine.

Two weeks later, on August 29 the villagers and also many tourists,  celebrate the name day of St. John. The festival begins with a service in the church of St. John in the "backyard" of Kournas. In the evening the main street in the village will turn into a big party with plenty of food and drink and of course music and dance.

Cretan food and drinks

On the village square, you will find the tavern "Kournas", run by Nikos and Maria Kokolakis; a little further, past the square, you will see on the right side the tavern "Kali Kardia", run by Andreas Anagnostakis and here in front of you are welcome at Babis in his tavern "Babis".

Just beyond the village square, next to the bakery Polenta you will find the ouzeri "Aetofolia" and a little bit more uphill on the same road you can visit the village cafe, "kafenion" from the Piperakis family.

So in Kournas you do not have to be hungry and your thirst can be quenched in many places.

For more than 25 years Maria and Nikos Kokolakis run the tavern "Kournas", also known as "Kanarina". And equally long every summer tourists come back here to greet the family and enjoy the Cretan cooking of Maria and the meat from the grills, Nikos' speciality.
Sometimes the terrace is spontaneously used in the summer months as a dance floor for the famous Cretan dances.

An ouzeri is a cafe where people enjoy a drink whith a small snacks. You may know them: rolled grape leaves, olives, small cheese biscuits, sausages "loukaniko", etc. The ouzeri is run by the family Dramilaris and has the name "Aetofolia" (Eagle's Nest).
Just like the kafenion is this the place where people tell eachother the news, talk about the daily business and share their experiences.

Agios Georgios

Tavern Kournas

tavern Kournas

Ouzeri "Aetofolia"


Tavern Kali Kardia

The tavern "Kali Kardia" is a famous name in Kournas. Together with his wife Evangelia, Kosta Anagnostakis opened his tavern in 1959 and from

faraway people came to Kournas to enjoy the traditional Cretan dishes and many delicious homemade specialties such as the "galaktoboureko" and "Kokoretsi".


Since 2013 Kali Kardia is run by Andreas Anagnostakis. Together with the support of his wife Melina and friends the old days revive in Kournas. On the menu are delicious, healthy Cretan dishes, including the "Kokoretsi" (only on Sundays), homemade appetizers and the famous "Salad Kali Kardia" and the lovely desert "galaktoboureko".

The weekend is dedicated to music: local and regional musicians are playing on the terrace in the summertime and in the winter months they perform in the tavern. Usually, the performances start after 21:00, so you have time to enjoy your meal with musical accompaniment.

And of course on those nights people will be dancing the well known "Cretan dances".

kali kapdia grill
kali kardia kapdia

Tavern Babis

For several years the tavern "Babis" is located in front of "Kali Kardia" and lovers of the traditional Cretan cuisine are here at the right address.

The delicious "Salad Babis" and on Sunday the "Antichristo" are just some examples.
At the entrance of his tavern Babis has set up a small museum with special ancient utensils, the Cretan flag, a large pedigree and much more.

During the quiet winter months Babis is busy making the Cretan stick,  the "Katsouna" which is still used by the shepherds.

Tavern "Babis" also organize live music in the summer months and these parties often last until the early hours.

tavern Babis

Kafenion Piperakis

Over 35 years ago, there were as many as 11 kafenions in Kournas!

The last decades a lot of villagers left the village and the kafenion of the Piperakis family is the only one that remained.

But it is not just only a kafenion. It has a wine cellar, a small mini-market with the major daily necessaries, it is the "post office" of the village and here are pressed many thousands of kilos of grapes in September.

The wine from Piperakis is loved and served in many Cretan restaurants and is even exported to many countries all over the world.

The owner of the kafenion, Dimitri Piperakis died in 2021. He was 92 years old  and he was formerly the mayor of Kournas, so he knew almost everything and everyone. His brother, Spiros and the children and grandchildren now run the kafenion. Many people will miss Dimitri.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

In summertime you are welcome to the cosy terrace for a cup of Greek coffee, a beer or a glass of house wine. During the winter a wood stove warms the kafenion and this is the place to be to hear all the news and adventures.


Would you like to know more about Kournas and real village life?  

Almost every day, Arno is making a village-walk and he tells you about the all-day life in Kournas.
More information about this walk you can read here

shopping in Kournas

You won't find large stores where you can shop extensively in Kournas. All year round, practically every day, traders in their cars come to the village to sell their wares: fruit and vegetables, chicken, clothes and shoes, plants, flowerpots and potting soil, bread, carpets, everything is for sale.

And for other purchases, we go to Kavros, Georgioupolis or to the cities of Rethymnon only 25 kilometers away or to Chania, 48 kilometers to the west.


For daily necessities, you can visit the small supermarket "Kontarida" in the village square. Kostas' shop is open every day from 8:00 till 21:00. Sunday afternoon, the supermarket is closed.

You can also buy here a delicious ice cream or a cold bottle of water.

Hair Salon

Next door to her parents' bakery, Vivian opened her hair salon for ladies, children and men. You can also contact Vivian for manicure, pedicure and bridal make-up.

The salon is open from 10:00 till 13:00 and from 17:00 till 21:00. 

The salon is closed on Sunday.


Next to the kafenion you can discover a small shop. This dates from the time that there were no shops in the village at all. For the most important necessities of life people then went to the kafenion.

The range is no longer so extensive, but even now you can buy there some essential products, such as matches, flour, sugar and coffee.

His own use wine, raki and oliveoil are also sold here.

The kafenion is open every day.



A little further on the right side of the street, Mimi Polentas is running his traditional bakery for many years. Every morning the fresh bread is ready for you. His son, Pantelis, delivers every morning the fresh bread in the village and in the area of Kournas. Katerina, the wife if the baker, is responsible for the traditional Cretan biscuits and the delicious, healthy "breadsticks".

Also, the healthy Cretan "Paximadi", the double baked bread, is baked here. The bakery is open every day, also on Sunday.



To complete this page I will mention "Mandali", the local shop, which you will find at the square, just next to the tavern "Kournas".

Mandali is open in summer from 10:30 till 16:30 and on Saturday and Sunday we are closed.


Do you want to stay informed of the latest news from Kournas?

Sign up for the Mandali Mail

do  you know...









donekys and us
strawberry tree

... that there used to be many sources of water in Kournas?

... that there is a river flowing just outside Kournas that has water almost the whole year?

... that this river is called "Sfakas" and as soon as he leaves Kournas he is called "Kournas"?

... that the Kournas cave has been closed for more than 10 year due to the danger of collapse?

... that Kournas is at more than 200 meters altitude?

... that only a few streets in the village have a name?

... that Kournas has 11 churches?

... that there are donkeys in Kournas?

... that in Kournas there used to be more than 10 kafenions, several small shops, 3 olive oil factories

     and a number of cheese factories?

... there is a walking path to Kavros and that it is marked with brown-white signs?

... that the climate in Kournas is very healthy? Usually a cool breeze in the summer and low

    humidity in the winter.

... that the old walking path "Monopati Azilakas Street" was made accessible again by volunteers of

    Kournas in 2011?

... that many residents still slaughter their chicken, pig or sheep at home?

... that Kournas has a cultural community that organizes various activities? 
... some activities are giving music- and dance lessons, organizing excursions to special places in

    Crete and the annual theatre performance of the Kournas Theatre Group?


... that the houses do not have a number or a postbox?
... that the postman Alexandros delivers most of the mail at the kafenion?
... that we pick up the mail here, and then we also hear all the news ?
... that more than 50 foreigners permanently live in Kournas?
... that they come from, England, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Albania, 
    Austria, Morocco and Belgium?


do you follow Mandali on Facebook or Instagram?

In the traditional mountain village of Kournas you won't see many tourist activities: there is no tourist office with organized trips, no car or bike rental, no souvenir shops, even a hotel you will not find here.

"What am I supposed to do," you may think. Well, nothing. You are allowed to "do" nothing in Kournas, just enjoy village life. Experience the tranquility, the space, the sound of the cock crowing and the music of the goat bells. Hear the music of the grocer to let you know that he is coming with his car and see the villagers enjoying everyday life.


botanical walk EXTRA



In summer months, the daily life in the mountain villages of Kournas takes place mainly outdoors: around the house, in the garden, on the balcony, in the street or on the sidewalk in front of the house.
On the village square, on the terraces of the taverns and in the kafenions (village cafes) there are always visitors exchanging the latest news and gossip.
You are also welcome in the taverns, the cafe or on a bench in the square to find out how village life can be.

village walk

Kournas is a small village, where you can easily make a short or longer walk.

Just strolling through the narrow streets, walking criss-cross through the village or explore the village and surrounding area with a plan or a walking book. The choice is yours.
You can get a free map of the village and the area at Mandali and also a hiking booklet including two walks in Kournas is available here.

If you want to hear some information about the village and the village life, you are welcome at the village walk with Arno.

More information you can read here.


Activities in Kournas

botanical walk with donkeys

Almost every day Arno makes with his donkeys a botanical walk in the backyard of Kournas.

More information you can read on the page walking

You can make an adventurous walk in the forest and at the feet of the mountains just outside Kournas.
Here you can read more about this walk

Would you like to stay informed about new Mandali activities and the latest news from Kournas?
Then sign up for the Mandali Mail

donkeys in Kournas

One of the most frequently asked questions from the tourists in Crete is: where are the donkeys? And this question is not so easy to answer. About 35 years ago, in Kournas, the donkeys were seen in all the streets and on the fields.

They ensured the transport of branches, raw materials and also of people. 

loaded donkey
light donkey
man with donkey

now there are donkeys in Kournas again

One of our wishes was to have a couple of donkeys in the village, to take for a walk, who would help us carry the herbs and the water. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a few donkeys in Kournas again?
For more than a year we were searching for donkeys, but this was not so easy. We wanted two donkeys because a donkey is a companion animal and does not like to be alone.


Finally, after a long search, we succeeded and since 2018 Arno and I are the proud owners of 2 donkeys.
Both donkeys are females and the eldest is called Eos, 12 years old and the youngest donkey listens to the name Cleo, and she is 6 years old.

February 2019, we adopted a third donkey, named Popy (Penelope). She is an older lady, 24 years old. She had a difficult life, but we hope she will forget about this here in Kournas. Popy is a smaller, Cretan donkey, and she gets along with the others very well. She seems very happy with her new family. Eos is her best friend.

At that time Kavros did not exist yet and the area on the coast was called "Paralia Kournas" (beach Kournas). In this agricultural area the farmers from Kournas cultivated their potatoes, watermelons, courgettes and also a lot of peanuts. During the harvest of the peanuts, the donkeys were loaded with the peanuts, they got a slap and walked uphill to Kournas. Here someone took the load of the donkey. He then got a slap and walked down again, to Kavros. They knew the way. 


The children from Kournas also went to the beach riding a donkey. They left in the morning and at four o'clock the donkey began to bray and the children knew that it was time to return home.

The village of Kournas and the "back yard" offer plenty of opportunities for walks with donkeys and if you want to join them on one of the walks, read more information on the page walking


Almost 8 years ago three donkeys lived in Kournas. They were used by their owners as a beast of burden in the transportation of timber, harvest and tools. One man also used his donkey as a mean of transport. He could not walk so good any more, but thanks to his donkey he could still go to his plot to work it. Unfortunately, these last 3 donkeys have died.

4 donkeys
donkey Popy

a foal in Kournas
On Thursday afternoon, April 3 2019, Cleo got her first foal. What a surprise!
Cleo was only 3 years old then, but she took care of her foal like an experienced mother: she never lost sight of her, adjusted her when she went the wrong way, sniffed her regularly to check if everything was ok, it was awesome!

mother and foal
Arno and foal
junmping foal

In the stable

the foal is so curious

practising jumpin and kicking


All 4

Eos and Popy

Zoë is doing great. She is an active, young donkey, very curious and sometimes mischievous. Like the other donkeys, we also train with her. She learns to walk right next to us, not to pull and not to eat when we walk. She really enjoys running and playing. Usually she plays with her mother. Eos isn't that playful, and Popy isn't always in the mood.
Like the other donkeys, she neatly lifts her legs when they need to be checked. In short, an exemplary donkey.


Zoë is now 2 years old and since December 2020 she doesn't drink milk from mother Cleo. Cleo allowed this less and less often so that the amount of milk also decreased. One day we saw that her udder had returned to its normal shape and that no more milk came out of the udders. Zoë sometimes tries to drink but is quickly pushed away by Cleo. We are happy with this because now Cleo can regain her old weight, and she does not have to eat for 2 any more. She looked so thin at times.


We took Zoë and Eos for a walk once, and Cleo was fine with this. Zoë loved it too. When Arno wanted to take Zoë alone once, he had to motivate her. But once on the road, it went well. Until they were almost in Kavros. Zoë did not want to continue and could no longer be motivated. She even lay down on the path. Then Arno walked back with her and Zoë walked so fast !!!

We keep trying now and then, and it will get better and better.

Update about Zoë

Birthday Breakfast
mother Cleo and daughter Zoë
Zoë 1 year old



Eos has some problems with her legs lately. In December, Eos stepped into a deep hole with her hind leg. It looked serious, but luckily it was not too bad. At the beginning of this year, after New Year's Day, she suddenly limped. Arno has checked her front hoof, but everything was fine. Nothing could be seen or felt on her leg either. It kept getting worse and one day she walked with her right front leg only on tiptoe and very difficult. With a weight of about 250 kilograms, it is not easy to walk on 3 legs.
We left her in the stable with a lot of straw on the ground so she could lie down. And she did.



On the entire island of Crete, you can hardly find a vet who knows about donkeys, so we looked for a vet who knows about horses. Fortunately, a good veterinarian comes to the riding school in Kavros and by chance, he would be coming to Crete soon. We asked him over the phone for advice and got painkillers for Eos. These worked well. We had the suspicion that Eos had stumbled a lot or might have slipped and therefore had pain in her shoulder (muscle pain or perhaps pain in the tendons).


Eos didn't like being alone in the stable. She regularly looked down at the field where the other 3 donkeys were. And the other 3 were often on a small piece of land, just below the stable, where they could hear and smell each other.


Arno and I went to Eos regularly to keep her company. I read her entire chapters from my book, with her head on my lap. Arno was busy with the donkeys' carrying baskets and did this in the stable with the radio on.

Slowly things got better and after 5 days we stopped giving her painkillers. Arno massaged her leg and shoulder with olive oil and herbal oil a few times a day and she was fine with this.
Since January 10, the day the vet was due to arrive, things suddenly went much better. She wanted to leave the stable, she wanted te to eat fresh green food and most of all she wanted to go to her friends, who walked downstairs in the field.


Walking downhill was the hardest for Eos, but very carefully and very slowly she walked down the path to the field, where Cleo, Zoe, and Popy were already waiting for her. They were happy to be together again. Eos found a quiet place where she could overlook and enjoy everything.
After an hour we all walked uphill again. Arno went for a walk with 3 donkeys and Eos walked back into the stable. Tired, but satisfied she lay down in the straw.


Eos is completely fine again. She walks normally, runs again and makes strange caper jumps.

We are still not sure what she had and the vet still hasn't been here (very strange).

We found another vet who has experience with donkeys. He will meet us when he is in the area.



relaxing during the reading session

Cleo likes the coffee

Eos in the stable

and they have theri own Instagram account

This year Barbara will make the adventurous botanical walk EXTRA on request only. This walk is possible at 7:30 a.m. and in the afternoon at 15:30 p.m.

We start at "Mandali", in the village square and the walk will last about 2,5 hour. 

The walk is also suitable for children from ± 6 years.  


Please send me a message, or call me to make a reservation.

With normal, sturdy shoes, you can easily walk this route. Do not forget your camera and/or binoculars, and also a bottle of water can be useful because sometimes it can be warm going uphill.


If you like walking with a walking stick, take it with you. A stick can be useful in some places. If you didn't bring your walking stick, you can choose a stick at "Mandali" and use it during the walk.

Sign up at Barbara by phone: 0030-6951337205, by  email  or at Facebook


walking in and around Kournas

We walk at a calm pace and stop at beautiful, unusual plants, fragrant flowers, ancient trees and spicy herbs.  Every season, every month, even every week,  nature changes its color and its smell.  That makes this herb walk so fascinating: we never know what nature will show us.


Often we encounter the goats and sheep on our path or we see and hear them on the mountain slopes. Birds of prey such as buzzards and vultures often fly above our heads.

The walk takes us slowly uphill and at the highest point, we have a beautiful view over the village of Kournas and the coast of the Almyros Bay.

Through a narrow goat path we descend to the forest with ancient oaks, plane trees,  "strawberry trees" and in autumn a lot of mushrooms.

Following the footpath called "Azilakas Street," we walk into the forest.

This trail is maintained by volunteers of Kournas and, if necessary, again equipped with handrails and "stair steps".

The name "Azilakas" is the Greek word for stone-oak, and we will see a lot of them.


We walk in the forest high above and along the river "Sfakas" in which water flows almost all year round. A few times we even will cross the small river. Until in June you will see many small waterfalls in the river.

The narrow path goes uphill and downhill and takes us along an old lime kiln. Once we leave the forest, we walk on the broader dirt roads past olive trees and vineyards back towards Kournas.

footpath "Azilakas'


"Azilakas Street" through the forest

downhill towards the forest

strawberry trees

botanical walk with donkeys

botanical walk EXTRA

In the morning Arno walks with the donkeys in the direction of the back yard of Kournas to show you which herbs, plants, flowers and trees you can find here. The walk takes about 2 hours, with several stops.

We walk on dirt roads and asphalt, so also your children can also enjoy this walk.


This botanical walk is on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and starts at "Mandali" in the village square at 9:30 am and at about 12:30 you are back here again.

Because the donkeys and we prefer small groups we advise you to make a reservation for all the walks by email, at Facebook or just call us 0030-6951337205. We keep our distance and can allow a maximum of 8 persons for the walk.

Donkeys do not like rain and strong winds, so on wet, stormy days, the donkeys stay on their land or in the stable.

Cleo and her Foal will also join you at the walk.

donkey area

where are we going and what do we experience

strawberry trees
in the jungle

Reservation for all the walks by email, by Facebook or just call or text us 0030-6951337205

The village of Kournas and the surrounding area offer plenty of opportunities for short and longer walks. You can choose what suits you: a walk on your own, a botanical walk together with Arno and his donkeys,  a villagewalk with Arno or together with Barbara you can make an adventurous botanical walk EXTRA   

holidays in Kournas


 Casa Belvedere

2 houses, fully equipped with 2 bedrooms each and additional sleeping accommodation for 4 people (total capacity of 8 people per apartment).
The upper floor house also offers 1 extra room on 2 floors and access to the private roof terrace with panoramic sea-mountain views and jacuzzi.
All guests have access to the pool including sun loungers, barbecue etc.
Can be booked separately or as a complete villa (up to 16 people)

Kournas apartmenst

Villa Iasonas

A beautifully renovated stone house with traditional elements and modern decor. On the terrace you have a beautiful view on the 'backyard' of the village. Here you can also enjoy the swimming pool on the roofterrace.

Villa Iasonas
Acrothea Villa
villa Acrothea

Villa Acrothea

This villa, renovated in Cretan style, was completely renovated in 2014 and  also has a swimming pool.

A magnificent view on the sea and the mountains, plenty of privacy and tranquility make your holiday unforgettable.

If you want to discover more in the area of the beach of Georgioupolis and Kavros and enjoy the quiet village life, you can book your next holiday here in Kournas. Scattered throughout the village there are beautiful holiday homes available: for singles, for couples and groups of friends or for large and small families.


I have collected a couple of websites of holiday homes for you and who knows, maybe we will meet each other this summer in Kournas.

Villa Caliz 

A modern Villa with amazing sea view and mountain view, a private heated pool, a BBQ dining terrace and a good fixed line internet.


The Villa has 3 double bedrooms with en-suites toilet, shower and toilet.

Villa Caliz
Villa Caliz pool

Villa Karin

This villa is built in a valley on the outskirts of the village, with a beautiful, colorful garden, with a swimming pool and several sun terraces.

The villa has 3 bedrooms.


Villa Aloni

This villa is suitable for a large family or group of friends. Spread over 3 floors there are 5 bedrooms. The villa is built in Cretan style with all the luxury you want.

The house is on the edge of the village and also has a swimming pool and a large garden with terraces.

To spiti mas

A family house in the centre of Kournas lovely decorated in Cretan style. The house has  a beautiful mountain view, a private courtyard, a garden with well, pergola and BBQ and wood oven. There are 3 bedrooms and the maximum of guests is 6.

villa Karin
villa Karin
villa Aloni
to spiti mas
to spiti mas

usefull links 

In the area of Kournas you will find much more for an unforgettable holiday or daytrip. The most interesting items you will see on this page. Also some more general and useful information on Crete you will find here.

If you have questions about certain things or if you want some "inside information" about something,

just send me an email or a message on Facebook and I'll try to help you.

The island Crete has so much to offer you and I can imagine it is difficult for you to choose: what to do, where to go and what to see. I will try to help you by giving you some links to websites with good information about spectacular excursions, nice experiences, special places and much more ...


It is very easy to discover Crete on your own. In a lot of places you can rent a car or motorcycle and plan your own discovery-trip. Also with a moped you can make beautiful tours through the small villages in the area.

You don't have to travel for hours to taste the real Crete! In the area of Kournas you can enjoy some adventurous trips.

jeep safari

A spectacular experience is the day-trip with

Georgioupolis Safari.
Your driver Stelios let you discover, smell and taste the real Crete. 
This day will become unique and unforgetable.

On the internet you can find a lot of information about Crete, the beautiful nature and special places to visit.  

Some websites deserve extra attention and that is the reason that I would like to share these most remarkable and extensive websites with you.

Nkos bike

If you want to spend a realxing day on the water, you can book a boat-trip with captain Georgios on his yacht "Aphrodite" 

You can swim, snorkel, relax in the sun, visit caves and try to catch a fish.


You always dreamed of an exciting beach ride, a mini-safari or a riding holiday?
Zoraida Horse Riding can offer you various riding trips.

Beginners or non-experienced riders are also welcome.

When you love walking and also want to learn something about the nature of Crete, you are welcome at Mandali.

Every day there are several walks in and  around Kournas.

botanical walk

special places on Crete

For a sporty day out, please contact Nikos bycicles in Kavros. 
He has for you a bike with many gears and a handy map with routes in the area.

adventures in the area of Kournas

I hope the information on this page is useful for you and I hope you will have got some inspiration for your next holiday.

I wish you a lot of fun preparing your holiday on Crete and If you have questions, I am here to help you.


Just send me an email or a message on Facebook and I will try to answer your questions as best as possible.

Also suggestions, additions or interesting information are always welcome. 

walking guide area Petres, Mousellas, Embrosneros and Kato Poros

If you like walking in the area of Kournas, you can have a look at the walking guide written by Victor Law. He lives in Kastellos, a small village next to Kournas and he discovered a lot of walking paths in the area of Petres, Kato Poros, Embrosneros and the Mousellas river. Even a "coast to coast" walk is included.

You can read the map here and you are free to download it for personal use.

a lot of information about Crete and Greece, with a lot of pictures and a helpful community.

a complete travel guide for Crete, with an

up-to-date travel app

flowers of Crete
with beautiful pictures and a lot of information about the special and endemic flowers of Crete

with  information about Crete and also recipes and a cultural agenda.

 Botanical Park
where fruit trees, herbs, flowers and medicinal plants are growing like in paradise. There is a tavern with delicious food.

To promote tourism on Crete there were made some very beautiful movies about Crete and some of them even won prices on the Tourism Film Festival
One of them I can show you here. When you watch it on YouTube you will discover the other special movies about all the aspects of beautiful Crete.

a picture tells more than 1000 words...


On the  Mandali's YouTube kanaal van Mandali you can find more videos about Kournas, the area and Crete in general.

Kretenzer roos

Do you recognize this? You are back home after your holiday on Crete, and then you realize that you have missed several highlights at your holiday destination or that you had to adjust your program due to time constraints.

I would like to give you some tips that can help you plan your stay in Crete better and enjoy your holiday even more.


The travel time in Crete does not correspond to the travel time in Northern Europe.

Every week I hear enthusiastic stories from tourists who visit the beautiful island of Crete: it is so beautiful here, lots of natural beauty, many authentic villages, friendly people, very varied, etc. But there is often one disadvantage, namely the travel time.


maximum speed

There is only one highway on Crete, the "new national road", but don't compare this with a highway in Northern Europe. This highway is located on the north coast of the island and is only four lanes in a few places. The maximum speed is 90 kilometres per hour, but in more and more places you are only allowed to drive 80 or 70 kilometres per hour. At busy intersections and exits, the maximum speed is often 60 kilometres per hour.

The distance of 80 kilometres on the highway usually takes more than an hour.



Cameras make sure that most people stick to the speed. It may take a while before you get a fine sent home, but it's coming. And the myth that the cameras don't work isn't quite true. Not all of them work, but we never know which ones do and which ones don't. They also know where to find you if you rent a car. The car rental company receives the fine and forwards it to the customer or settles it with him.



Many tourists on Crete like to stay in the small town of Rethymnon on the north coast of Crete, about 75 kilometres west of Heraklion and about 80 kilometres east of Chania. Rethymnon is centrally located on Crete and directly on the highway.

From Rethymnon you can drive easily and quickly to the west or east. There is also a very good secondary road to the south here.

If you want to visit many places in the central part of Crete, this city is a good base.


secondary roads

On the secondary roads on Crete you can drive a maximum of 70 kilometres per hour. Many roads have been re-surfaced and widened in recent years. But usually you will be happy when you reach 50 kilometres per hour on these roads. On many roads there is still overdue maintenance, with potholes, or the road is sometimes unexpectedly narrow, because part of the road is missing. Also, these roads often wind through the beautiful landscape or the roads go steeply uphill, making overtaking almost impossible.


busy roads

The highway is frequently used by tourists to drive fast from A to B. Buses and trucks also use this road as much as possible. It is especially busy in the mornings between 8.30 am and 10.00 am and in the afternoon after 5 pm there is also a lot of traffic on the highway. There are no traffic jams, but sometimes you can’t drive faster than about 40 kilometres per hour for miles.

If you want to travel further afield on Crete, leave early in the morning or, for example, take an alternative route via the secondary road and then drive back via the highway (or vice versa). Or stay overnight and drive back the next day.


road map

In every rental car, there is usually a road map of the entire island. This map is useful to get an overview and the most important roads are signed out. But this map is not suitable for a real journey of discovery in the inland of Crete. We prefer to use the maps of “Anavasi” when we are travelling by car in an unknown area.


Google Maps

Google Maps is also doing very well on the island and is used by most of the tourists. Since a few years, the internet in Crete has greatly improved, and almost everywhere you have signal. Only in mountainous areas the connection sometimes disappear, but mostly it is fine again a little higher on the mountain.

Sometimes Google sends you to your destination via surprising routes, but this often leads to nice discoveries.

In many rental cars navigation is available, so you can easily map out your route.


Insider tip

We regularly have to pick up people from or to the airport in Heraklion, and normally we drive this track on the “new national road”. But we have experienced that driving on the “old national road” from Rethymnon  to Heraklion is 15 minutes longer, but this route is more beautiful, relaxing and varied, and it is much less crowded.


Tip from tourists

In our shop I meet tourists who are out for a day with their car and when I ask them what their plan is for the rest of the day. Sometimes I get the answer: “We'll just drive somewhere and see where we end up”.

Such a road trip often provides the most beautiful discoveries and unique experiences that you don’t read in the tourist guides.



Do you have questions about travelling on Crete, or do you want more information about Crete?

Take a look at our website, our Facebook page or visit us in Kournas, in our shop "Mandali, local products and more..."


On this website about our shop "Mandali" in Kournas, you will find a lot of information about us and our life here on Crete. But Arno and I have so much more to tell about our lives here on beautiful Crete.


We would like to share our experiences with you through this BLOG.

Many people who spend their holidays on Crete are often particularly surprised by the versatility of the island: Crete has everything: beautiful, untouched nature, mountains and plateaus, sea and lakes with freshwater, picturesque villages and large cities, simple rooms for rent and luxurious hotels, many hours of sunshine and heavy rain showers.

And I haven't even mentioned the friendly, hospitable people, the delicious, healthy food, the relaxed lifestyle and much more ...
And with this surprise, our first introduction to Crete also started.


It started with a holiday on Crete
Since 2000 we came to Crete every year to enjoy a wonderful relaxing, but also sporty holiday. At one point we even came twice a year: in May and September.
And every time we arrived at the airport and breathed the warm Cretan air, we felt like we were coming home. And every time we went back to the Netherlands it was hard to say goodbye.

During one of our holidays on Crete we wondered if it would be possible to live (and work) on this beautiful island. We asked many Cretan friends and acquaintances for information and we also asked people who already lived and worked here.


Emigrate to Crete
How exciting is it to move abroad? Leave your family, friends, and dear acquaintances behind in the Netherlands? Are we doing it or not? And what if it doesn't go well?
All questions that haunted our minds in 2008.
In 2010 we left: all the important things fitted in our car and on March 1 we arrived in Crete.


How is life on Crete?
We have been living on Crete for more than 10 years now and many people ask us whether we like living on Crete and what live is like here. We can only say that we absolutely don't regret our decision to live and work here. We like it very much, we feel at home here in the village of Kournas, we have many friends and acquaintances, we enjoy working in and on our shop Mandali, we love our donkeys, we have adapted well and we are doing well.


more than 10 years later
Now, more than 10 years later, we look back on a period in which we had fun, cheered and laughed, but we also cried and were angry. We were sad at times, but often very happy.

In the past 10 years we have achieved a lot, we have also had to solve some necessary problems and we have learned a lot.
In short, we feel right at home here!


our experiences in Crete
Would you like to read more about our experiences on Crete, our life here or do you want to know more about Crete in general? In the blogs below I have already written something about various topics and more will follow.


our holiday experiences on Crete
Would you like to read more about our holiday experiences in Crete? Then read on here.


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Do you want to stay informed about the activities in our shop Mandali, in the village of Kournas or do you like to read how our donkeys are doing?  Then sign up for the Mandali Mail, a newsletter with news, facts, recipes, photos and much more.

I send the Mandali Mail once a month and topics that were discussed in previous newsletters were items like Cretan Mountain Tea, Oregano, How are olives harvested and pressed? What is a komboloi? Life in Crete in the winter.


I like to keep you informed about news about Crete, about the village of Kournas and the surrounding area, (Georgioupolis, Kournas lake and Kavros) about nature, customs and traditions in Crete, possibilities for day trips in the area and much more.


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Get API key from Google and insert it to plugin properties to enable maps on your website.

Subscribe to our  Mandali Maii with the latest news from Mandali, Kournas and Crete.

We would like to grow with our store Mandali and the activities we organise in Kournas and would like to get more name recognition. We therefore appeal to you to help us.

We like it if you want to share special experiences, pleasant experiences, beautiful adventures or fun memories through the different social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
Also, a review on Tripadvisor or Google helps us very well to be found better.

We do our best to inform you as well as possible, but if you have tips for improvements, we would like to read that.


Are you in the area of Rethymnon or Chania on holiday and do you want to come to Kournas? With a rental car, you can follow the National Road in the direction of Georgioupolis and then follow the signs for Kournas.

Kournas can also be reached by regular bus. The bus stops on the National Road in Kavros (Paralia Kournas), at the BP gas station. To go to Kournas you can take a taxi in Kavros or you go on foot. It is about 5 kilometres.
The taxi station is in the shopping street next to the "train station" or you can ask at the gas station if they want to call you a taxi.

Thank you for your interest in our website and we look forward to seeing you in Kournas.

Mandali                  tel: 0030 6951337205 (also What's app and Viber)
73007 Kournas     email: info@mandali-kournas.com

Thank you for your interest in our website and we would love to see you in Kournas.