Guided butterfly, botanical & birdwatching holidays
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The Flowers of Crete

 

Dates & Prices

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Dates: 1 – 8 April 2017 Guaranteed departure!

Price: £1,195

Single Room Supplement: £none

Deposit: £150 per person


Price Includes: All meal, accommodation with private facilities and air conditioning, ground transport, services of guides, holiday report, 10% donation to a wildlife charity

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

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

Leader: Sotiris Alexiou

Group Size: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests plus 1-2 leaders.

Grade: Gentle paced walks in a variety of terrains. Ideally suited to photography.

Holiday Highlights


  • See 30-40 species of Orchid
  • Endemic / regional Orchid species such as Orchis prisca, Orchis sitiaca & Ophrys cretica
  • Crete is home to 1,600 plant species, including many endemics
  • Beautiful carpets of Tulips and Anemones
  • Spring butterflies such as the endemic Cretan Festoon
  • English speaking guide with expert knowledge
  • Birds such as Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Alpine Chough, Cirl Bunting, Fan-tailed Warbler
  • Walk deep amongst limestone gorges and on high plateaus for a wide range of flora & fauna
  • Visit the beautiful old town of Chania, with time to soak up the history & culture of the area
  • Stroll along pretty venetian ports, take a dip in the ocean and even head underground into caves

Witness the majesty and beauty of Western Crete in spring with orchids & other flowers providing carpets of colour, set against backdrops of dramatic scenery and historical sites!

BOOK HOLIDAY NOW

Witness the majesty and beauty of  Western Crete in spring with orchids & other flowers providing carpets of colour, set against backdrops of dramatic scenery and historical sites!

Ophrys ariadnae

Our home for the week on Crete is on the outskirts of Chania, the most beautiful city in Crete and for some in the whole of Greece.

Chania has a natural, privileged, well-protected beauty. Sleepless guardians to the south stand the gigantic White Mountains in all their indestructible, panoramic glory. To the north stretches the multi-coloured immensity of the Sea of Crete, embraced by its gorgeous, long-armed capes. And all around lies its land, scarlet and green-haired, sown with wild silver gorges. A land that seems to be made flesh, so spirited and alive that you hesitate to tread on it.” (Manolis Skouloudis)

The setting provides a perfect base for what will be a relaxing holiday filled with a feast of flowers for which the island is famous for, along with an interesting range of other wildlife. The Chania prefecture is the greenest part of the island, thanks to all the rainfall provided by the White Mountains. These limestone guardians of the landscape  dominate the region and we’ll be ideally located for exploring some of the best sites in the area, without having to venture too far, perfect for those that wish to maximise the time they can enjoy being amidst the nature they’ve come to see.

Upon our arrival it won’t be long before we’re amongst the rich tapestry of plants which cloth the mountainous scenery, which include between 30-40 species of orchid, various Tulips, Anemones, Fritillaries, Campanulas, Cyclamens and many more! During the week there will be many special and endemic plant species to enjoy, such as the impressive Cretan Arum, the rare and bright red coloured Tulipa doerfleri, the endemic Tulipa cretica & Crocus sieberi, soft pink Tulipa saxatilis, delightful Iris cretensis and what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful flowers on Crete, the White Peony Paeonia clusii.

Orchids will be one of our main target groups and we’ll enjoy a wealth of species, including endemics such as Orchis prisca & Orchis sitiaca. Other highlights include Ophrys heldreichii, the colourful Rainbow Ophrys Ophrys iricolor, the Cretan Bee orchid Ophrys Cretica and several forms of Ophyrs fusca such as the subspecies creberrima along with creticola and cressa.

We’ll also take breaks from looking down at the flora and spend some time observing the varied bird species on the island. These can include Griffon Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Buzzard, Cetti`s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Fan-tailed Warbler, Crested Lark and Italian Sparrow. In higher ground and at the gorges and plateaus we may also find Alpine & Red-billed Chough, Woodlark, Cirl Bunting and Black-eared Wheatear. On and close to water we’ll look out for Little Bittern, Little Crake, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Egrets and more. There will also butterflies to hold our interest, including the endemic Cretan Festoon Allancastria cretica.

Amongst the magnificent grandeur of the White Mountains we’ll also zoom in on small treasures such as the Snow or Cretan Crocus Crocus sieberi and mats of the bright blue Anchusa caespitose. The Imbros and Aradena Gorges also provide dramatic landscapes, where we’ll walk in wonder of our surroundings, whilst finding plenty of flowers of interest, such as Paeonia clusii. On the high Omalos plateau we’ll look for the Lammergeiers that inhabit the area and try to see the Cretan Wild Goats too. Here we’ll also be dazzled by the swathes of Tulips, Anemones and Orchids.

 
 
 
 

Day 1: Arrival at Chania airport and transfer to our hotel near Chania and right next to the sea. We’ll venture out to have a look at some of our first Cretan flora and fauna. Later, we’ll either eat at the hotel or perhaps take a stroll along the pretty Venetian harbour of Chania and dine in one of the many waterfront restaurants.

Day 2:  Spili and the famous meadows above, the most orchid-rich area of the entire island! We can expect to see: Anacamptis pyramidalis, Ophrys creberima, Ophrys cressa, Ophrus creticola, Ophrys episcoplalis, Ophrys gortynia, Ophrys heldreichii, Ophrys iricolor, Ophrys omegaifera, Ophrys spruneri, Orchis boryi, Orchis italica, Orchis quadripunctata, Orchis pauciflora, Orchis provincialis, Orchis simia, Serapias bergonii and Serapias lingua. Of course the area is also rich in other flora, such as Anemones, Cyclamen creticum, Fritillaria messanensis, Iris cretensis, Origanum dictamus, Ranunculus asiaticus, Tulipa doerfleri, Tulipa saxatilis, Viola cretica and so on.

Day 3: Kournas Lake. Here we’ll see waders, Little Crakes, Ruff, Little Bittern, Great Egret, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Squacco Heron and more. Other wildlife to see includes European Tree Frog, Dice snake, plus spring butterflies and flora.

Day 4: Gorges day! There are around 50 gorges in the White Mountains. We will drive through the east foothills of Lefka Ori down to the south of the island, to see the Imbros and Aradena gorges. The dramatic scenery of these wonderful places makes for some pleasurable botanizing. There are some beautiful endemic plant species to look for, mostly chasmophytes, such as Campanula laciniata, Stahaelina petiolata Origanum dictamus and Petromarula pinnata.

Day 5: The White Mountains “Lefka Ori” and Omalos plateau (1,000m above sea level). Beautiful flowers are expected here against the backdrop of some stunning views. Plant species on the menu for the day include the endemic Orchis prisca and several other orchids, Anchusa caespitosa, Crocus sieberi, Scilla nana, Cupressus trees, Paeonia clusii, Tulipa bakeri and many more. We can also see the endemic kri-kri or Agrimi (Cretan or Wild Goat) here.

Day 6: A visit at Akrotiri peninsula to visit two remarkable Orthodox monasteries-castles and botanize in the surrounding rocky terrain.

Day 7: Today we will drive to the westernmost part of the island. On our way we will pass through Kasteli, to arrive at Korikos peninsula, where we botanize this rocky and phryganic terrain, finding all kinds of interesting and endemic plants, such as Tulipa goulimyi and several orchids! We may also take time out and visit the magnificent sandy Balos beach and the Grambousa islands. The waters here are shallow and warm, brilliantly blue and the golden beach is full of shells. On our way back, we will drive through Topolia gorge, an impressive 1.5 km long, very narrow and deep gorge, full of smaller and bigger caves. We will visit one of them, the Agia Sophia cave, with a small chapel inside!

Day 8: Transfer to airport and departure. If time permits we’ll have a final excursion beforehand.

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