Dates & Prices


Dates: Late April 2020 (TBC)

Price: £1,295

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: Yiannis Christofides

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+ 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
  • Led by leading botanist and guide Yiannis Christofides
  • Spring butterflies such as the endemic Cretan Festoon
  • 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
  • Relaxing 2 centre holidays with leisurely walks and the opportunity to enjoy the beach too!

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!


Join us in the Greek island of Crete this spring for a fine mix of eastern Mediterranean flora and fauna!

Crete is famous for its wild flowers and has around 1600 species to enjoy, including numerous endemics! We visit in April, an optimum time for a mixture of flowers, butterflies, birds on migration and general wildlife. We should enjoy ample sunshine and warm temperatures too, all in all a very relaxing week spent on a Greek island wander!

We will split our week between two bases in Western Crete. From Chania we’ll take a leisurely drive for an hour or so due south, to our first hotel in the hills. Here we will spend first two nights. 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.

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 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.

Next we will head southeast to Plakias, a traditional village situated on one of the most spectacular and unspoilt stretches of Crete’s southern coast. We will spend the rest of the holiday based here, which will give us the chance of a dip in the ocean to go with our wildlife watching and island exploring!

It won’t be long before we’re amongst the rich tapestry of plants, 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.


Day 1: Arrival at Chania airport and transfer to our hotel

Day 2: 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,  Cupressus trees, Tulipa bakeri

Day 3. Transfer to Plakias. Stop  at the Armeni Minoan cemetery, which is also a good place for orchids and other flowers. We will  look for Cyclamen creticum and Serapias lingua

Day 4.  Spili and the famous meadows above, the most orchid-rich area of the entire island! We can expect to see: Anacamptis pyramidalis, Ophrys creberrima, Ophrys cressa, Ophrus creticola, Ophrys episcopalis, Ophrys gortynia, Ophrys heldreichii,  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, Ranunculus asiaticus, and Tulipa doerfleri

Day 5.  Plakias and Kakomouri headland.  Initially we walk along the beach towards the headland, exploring and looking at the sand-dune plants. We should see  Silene colorata,  Echium arenarium, Medicago marina, Scorzonera cretica, Cakile maritima, Glaucium glaucum and Euphorbia paralias. We then  walk up to the headland at the end of Plakias bay. We also expect to see some orchids such as Ophrys candica,  Anacamptis pyramidalis and  Orchis italica, Ophrys gortynia  and Ophrys episcopalis. Aristolochia cretica the food plant of the Cretan Festoon grows on the higher terraces. Both Gynandriris sisyrinchium and G. monophylla grow here.  Butterflies should be on the wing, with  Cretan Festoon,  Swallowtail, Wall Brown and  Eastern Dappled White expected. Depending on time we may visit the endemic palm tree Phoenix theophrasti groves at the other end of the bay

Day 6. Kotsifou gorge.  Today we descent through the Kotsifos Gorge. First though we head for the village of Agios Ioannis   and we spent the first hour or so meandering along a forest track where we see the  Cupressus sempervirens forest together with a rich shrub layer of Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree), Cistus salvifolius, C. creticus, Osyris alba (Sandalwood family) and Erica arborea. We will look for Orchis simia (Monkey orchid) and Ophrys candica. We then descend through the gorge looking at the endemic chasmophytic plants such as Procopiana cretica,   Linum arborescens,  Verbascum arcturus, Verbascum macrurum, Ricotia cretica  and Scrophularia peregrina.  Crag martins should be flying  up and down the gorge   Butterflies should  also  be very  abundant during  and Cleopatra, Cretan Heath, Eastern festoon, and Southern Comma should be seen. Balkan green lizards are common to be seen basking on the road verges. Traditional Cretan lunch at Mirthios

Day 7. The Amari valley lies nestled between the Psiloritis to the north and the Kedors range to the south-east. A dozen villages lie in the valley, untouched by mass tourism and traditional ways of life have not changed for centuries. Every Amari village possesses at least one church, and many of these have interiors decorated with stunning 14th- and 15th-century frescoes. We shall visit two churches, one built on the ruins of a 4th century basilica. Our journey will take us round the valley, stopping here and there to check the flowers and we shall end up in the village of Meronas for a late lunch. On the top of the hill above the village lie the ruins of the ancient city of Sibrita and, depending on time we shall walk there. The town was settled  before the end of the Minoan period,  and it survived into the first Byzantine period. T

Day 8. Departure

Testimonials to follow