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Autumn Flowers Of The Peloponnese

 

Dates & Prices

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Dates: October 2018 (exact dates TBC)

Price: £1,195

Single Room Supplement: £none

Deposit: £150 per person


Price Includes: All meal, accommodation, ground transport, services of guides.

Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items.

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to a wildlife charity.

Leader: Yiannis Christofides

Group Size & Travel: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests plus 1-2 leaders. Comfortable vehicles will be used for all travel.

Grade: Gentle pace and generally easy walks in a variety of terrains

Holiday Highlights


  • Enjoy the rich diversity of autumn flowers that this picturesque part of Greece is rightly famous for!
  • Guided by expert botanist Yiannis Christofides
  • Botanical highlights include Colchicums, Cyclamens, Sternbergias, eight species of Crocus, a Galanthus & possibly a Biarum species.
  • See Cyclamen, Crocus & Snowdrops in flower at the same time!
  • Fantastic flowers such as Crocus boryi, Cyclamen graecum, Galanthus reginae-olgae, Colchicum bivonae, Narcissus serotinus, Crocus goulimyi & more!
  • Discover archaeological sites such as the tomb of Atreas and Epidauros
  • Marvel at the Byzantine city of Mystras & Mani peninsula
  • Visit some of the most beautiful caves in Europe and step foot at the gates of the Underworld!

Enjoy a week of spectacular autumn flowers in a place where famous antiquity are combined with natural treasures – the rich and varied landscape of the Peloponnese in southern Greece!

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Our holiday has been timed to see the best of the Mediterranean autumn wildflowers in some of the best areas in the Peloponnese, Tayetos, Parnonas and Mani.

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The Peloponnese has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot dry summers. Spring really starts in the autumn with the coming of the rains; the first plants to flower are the many bulbs of the area. Our holiday has been timed to see the best of the Mediterranean autumn wildflowers in some of the best areas in the Peloponnese, Tayetos, Parnonas and Mani. Tayetos, the highest mountain in the Peloponnese, features a fascinating flora. We can expect to explore up to around 1800m to enjoy the range of flowers and mix of evergreen and deciduous forests. Parnonas and the Mani peninsula both support a diverse range of flowers too.

We expect to see Colchicum, Cyclamen, Sternbergia, several species of Crocus, a Galanthus and possibly a Biarum as well. The focus of the holiday will be on finding and photographing the plants and enjoying the other natural history in this beautiful autumn landscape, as well as soaking up the local culture. We shall take in a number of archaeological areas, such as the tomb of Atreas, (possibly Epidauros) and Mystras, the magnificent Byzantine city on the slopes of the Tayetos and smaller Byzantine churches that we come across. We shall also visit the Mani to see the fortified towers.

The Peloponnese is a peninsula that covers an area of some 21,549.6 square kilometres and constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. It is connected to the mainland by the narrow Isthmus of Corinth. It is said to derive its name, Peloponnesos, or the island of Pelops, from the mythical King of the region.

The area is also steeped in history; this is the land of Mycenae, Sparta and Olympia; the Greek war of independence started here in 1821. The Mycenaean civilization, mainland Greece’s first major civilization, dominated the Peloponnese in the Bronze Age from its stronghold at Mycenae in the north-east of the peninsula.

Central Peloponissos is dominated by Mt Menalos and in the south are two long mountain ranges, the Tayetos and the Parnonas. It is a very diverse area encompassing high snow-capped mountains with extensive woods, rocky scrub, gorges and wetlands. The southern part of the Tayetos is known as the Mani peninsula, a rugged, barren place, home to high towers and feuding Greeks, wonderfully described by Patrick Leigh Fermor in his book ‘Mani’. He writes ‘There is hardly a rock or a stream without a battle or a myth, a miracle or a peasant anecdote or a superstition’

Day 1: Flight from UK to Athens. We shall make our way to the Peloponnese over the Isthmus of Korinth to our first overnight stop at Nafplio. Depending on time we shall visit the ancient theatre at Epidauros. The asclepieion at Epidaurus was the most celebrated healing centre of the Classical world, the place where ill people went in the hope of being cured. The prosperity brought by the Asklepieion enabled Epidaurus to construct civic monuments too: the huge theatre that delighted Pausanias for its symmetry and beauty, which is used once again for dramatic performances.

Day 2: We continue our journey southwards stopping to visit the tomb of Atreas at Mycaenae. This tholos tomb – Treasury of Atreus or Tomb of Agamemnon – is the largest and the best preserved of the nine tholos tomb found in Mycaenae. It is dated about 1350-1330 BC. The stone used as the lintel inside the tholos is 8 metre long, 5 metre wide, 1.2 metre thick, and its weight is estimated to be as much as 120 tonnes. We shall be looking to see our first bulbs, expected to be Sternbergia and Scilla autumnalis. We then make our way to our next base, the town of Mystras, where we will spend the night.

Day 3: We visit Mystras, the spectacular abandoned Byzantine city, once home to 40,000 people, now home to a small order of nuns. We shall look for Crocus boryi and Cyclamen graecum amongst the ruins. Depending on time we take a short walk into the Parori gorge. Overnight stay at Mystras.

Day 4: The Tayetos. A change of habitat today as we venture higher up into the Tayetos to look for Galanthus reginae-olgae, and Cyclamen hederifolium in the Platanus orientalis forest. Hopefully there may be still some Colchicum bivonae, although this is towards the end of its flowering. We shall also see Allium callimischon, Acer sempervirens, Cupressus sempervirens, Quercus coccifera and Quercus ilex and if we are lucky we might come across a salamander. Overnight stay at Gythion and for the remaining three nights.

Day 5: From Gythio we go westwards in search of more Crocus and Colchicum species. We expect to see Crocus niveus and Crocus goulimyi and to search for Biarum species. This is Rock Nuthatch habitat and we shall make a stop to look for some. We visit the spectacular Diros caves, located approximately 12 miles south of Areopolis They are part of an underground river and about 5,000 meters have been exposed and accessible by small boats and through narrow passageways. One is surrounded by impressive formations of stalagmites and stalactites.

Day 6: Mani. The most arid part of Greece but a fine area for autumn flowers. We shall go round the peninsula looking for Crocus boryi,, Sternbergia lutea, Cyclamen graecum, Colchicums, Cyclamen hederifolium, Narcissus serotinus. We shall see the little picturesque port of Gerolimenas and stop to take photos. We then turn westwards past the village Stavri and walk towards the panhandle called Tigani. Walking towards the sea there are now plants typical of this habitat. We find Dianthus arboreus, Inula crithmoides, and Senecio bicolor with leaves similar to those grown in gardens. There is also fine Colchicum and Crocus goulimyi. We then continue round the peninsula and wonder at the famous tower-houses which are going to dominate the landscape.

Day 7: Parnonas. Today we visit the Parnon Mountains, on the east side of the Peloponnese peninsula. We take the coastal road from Gythion, passing over the Evrotas river and at Metamorphosis we turn towards the Parnon. The landscape is characterised by endless olive plantations, too well cultivated for the wild plants to survive. After Metamorphosis the landscape turns to garigue, metamorphosed limestone into which little pockets of soil support a population of shrubs and bulbs. We shall look for Crocus niveus, Crocus boryi, C. laevigatus, Crocus cancellatus and C. hadriaticus. We then drive through Lampokambos, where there are fantastic displays of Crocus goulimyi.

Day 8: Return trip to Athens

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