Grade

Moderate

Accommodation

Quality 4* Hotel

Transportation

Minibus

Cost

1795

Flights

Excluded

Single Supplement

300

Group

10-12

Tour Booklet

On Arrival

Dates

5-12 April 2023

Lunches

7

Breakfast

8

Welcome Drinks

Included

Dinners

Included

05 Apr 2023 - 12 Apr 2022

1,7952,095

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Tour Description

Inspired by famous plant hunters of the past, we are organizing a botanical expedition to Greece in Spring 2023 to discover orchids and flowers growing in the wild. Places on this all-inclusive tour are limited to 12. If a botanical adventure is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, then this is the tour for you !

We travel from Athens to Crete; a charming island full of botanical interest.  Although Crete is a popular destination for sun seekers, we avoid contact with them choosing instead areas of the island popular with nature lovers. No beach resorts on this tour! Just a comfortable hotel surrounded by nature, a rocky coastline and the sea.The temperature during our tour will be pleasant and the sun will be shining over the shores and rocky outcrops that are our hunting grounds for spring orchids and wild flowers.

Your tour guide is a leading expert in his field and can recognize and name all different types of Orchid. He also knows exactly where they grow! The genera of wild orchids that we might find is impressive: Serapias, Orchis, Ophrys, Dactylrhiza, Barlia, Cephelanthera, Anacamptis and many others. All should be in flower during our visit. There is also an excellent chance you will see several species of each. Other spring flowers you will see during our expeditions are Ranunculus, Cyclamen, Cistus, Fritillaria, Iris, Allium, Ferula and many more. All will be growing in their natural habitat and flowering before the intensity of the sun increases and the land become arid.

We eat lunch and dinner together at local restaurants where the a freshly grilled ‘catch of the day’ with a glass of local wine is the norm! No buffet lunches here!

Tour Itinerary

DAY 1 – HERAKION, CRETE / WELCOME DRINKS

  • Make your own way to Heraklion (Crete) airport and we’ll arrange travel for you to our hotel in Georgioupoli where our local guide will join us for a welcome drink. Afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to either view very beautiful dune vegetation near the hotel with us or have a short walk around Georgioupoli town.   We all meet again later at the hotel for a group dinner.

Accommodation: Kalyves Beach Hotel

DAY 2 –  BREAKFAST, RODOPOU PENINSULA, RAVDOUCHA BEACH, LAKE AGIA/ LUNCH & DINNER INCLUDED

  • In the morning we go on an excursion to the Rodopou peninsula. On the way we pass an area where we can find a fossilized starfish site and meadows with wild orchids from the genus Ophrys; some of the most beautiful that you’ve ever seen. They grow everywhere on the island. Other spring flowers you will see here and during our expeditions across the island are Ranunculus, Cyclamen, Cistus, Fritillaria, Iris, Allium, Ferula and many more.   For lunch we head to a great restaurant at Ravdoucha Beach which itself is of great geological interest. After lunch we visit Lake Agia which was originally built to hold drinking water for Chania town but today is an wetland area where we can find interesting plants and birds.   We return to our restaurant for dinner.  Remainder of the evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Kalyves Beach Hotel

DAY 3 –  BREAKFAST, KOURTALIOTI GEORGE, KOTSIFOU GEORGE / LUNCH & DINNER INCLUDED

  • After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we travel by minibus to Kourtalioti George where we’re almost guaranteed to find Griffon Vultures – sometimes as many as 20 of them !  We can stop at the beginning and end of the george to look at the many rock plants as well as chasmophytes growing on the steep rock faces. We’ll have lunch in Mariou or Plakias and will then travel to Kotsifou George, which is even more interesting than the george which we just visited: here we find Symphytum creticum, Verbascum arcturus en Senecio squalidus amongst others.  At the end of the day we return to our hotel for a group meal and an evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Kalyves Beach Hotel

DAY 4 –  BREAKFAST, FOURNES, OMALOS PLATEAU, SAMARIA GEORGE / LUNCH & DINNER INCLUDED

  • After breakfast, we travel Fournes to visit Crete’s Botanical Garden.  Established in 2003, there are many non-native tropical fruit plants and fruit trees as well as many edible and medicinal Cretian plants.   We’ll have lunch here and then travel onwards to visit the Omalos plateau where in cool conditions we’ll find Tulipa bakeri, Cerastium comatum, Romulea
    bulbocodium
    and various species of Myosotis.  We’ll also have time to visit the Samaria George before we return to the hotel for dinner.

Accommodation: Kalyves Beach Hotel

DAY 5 –  BREAKFAST, TOPOLIA GEORGE, PLEMENIANA, KANDANOS / LUNCH & DINNER INCLUDED

  • Today we visit Topolia George where we’ll find some special species of plants such as Centaurea argentea, C. redempta, Euphorbia sultan-hassei, Ebenus cretica, Salvia pomifera to cite just a few.   Afterwards, we drive through part primeval forest to Plemeniana where we will have lunch and if we have time we might stop off at various locations along the way to see what plants we can find.  After lunch in Plemeniana we’ll visit the nearby chestnut and plane tree forests in Western Crete.  Sections of these forests are primeval!  If we have time, we’ll stop along the road where we’ll find streams and limestone rocks breaking through the ground – an ideal habitat for Campanula cretica and Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree). Before returning to our hotel we’ll visit Kandanos and its monuments to the atrocities that were committed here during the  Second World War. After a full day, we return to our hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Kalyves Beach Hotel

DAY 6 –  BREAKFAST / ARGYROUPOLI / GEORGIOUPOLI / LUNCH & DINNER INCLUDED

  • This morning, we visit the Church of the 5 Virgins near Argyroupoli where the largest plane tree in Crete is located as well as some ancient ruins which are adjacent to the church. As we drive there we will botanize near Episkopi town.  Lunch today will be in one of the many fish restaurants in Argyroupoli and where they serve trout and sturgeon farmed in nearby basins which are fed by mountain streams. Don’t worry if you don’t like eating fish – there is plenty of choice for meat and vegetable lovers, after all this is Greece! After lunch we’ll visit the Georgioupoli swamp and then take the  ‘old road’ from Vryses to Kalyves where we will see cypress forests and other places of interest along the way.  After another full day, we return to our hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Kalyves Beach Hotel

DAY 7 – BREAKFAST / GIOUS KAMPBOS / SPILI / AGIA GALINI / LUNCH & DINNER INCLUDED

  • Today we’ll visit the plateau between Spili and Gerakari which is known as Gious Kambos.  This area is rich with Orchis pauciflora, O. italica, O. boryi, O. quadripunctata, Ophrys iricolor, O. bombyliflora, O. sicula and O. spruneri.  Depending on how early/late spring is, we’ll probably find various orchid hybrids here as well as the red tulip of Crete ‘Tulipa doerfleri’ along with Fritillaria messanensis and possibly the Snake Iris [Hermodactylus tuberosus] and Crete Iris [Iris unguicularis ssp. cretensis].  After lunch in Spili, we travel along the road to Agia Galini and stop after 8km to botanize on some interesting roadside slopes.  Then back to hotel for the dinner and our last night in Crete and evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Kalyves Beach Hotel

DAY 8 – CRETE – ATHENS / BREAKFAST INCLUDED

  • After breakfast  we check-out of our hotel and travel to Heraklion Airport in time for our return flight to Athens airport and from which point you can continue your onward journey.

Tour Images

Tour Destination

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