Dates & Prices


Dates: 28th June – 5th July 2023 (TBC)

Price: £1,295

Single Room Supplement: £150

Deposit: £150 per person

Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides, holiday report

Not Included: International & internal flights, travel insurance, drinks & any other personal items

Conservation Donation: Butterfly Conservation

Leader(s): Dr Simon Spencer & Anne Spencer

Group Size: Minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 guests plus 1-2 leaders.

Grade: Slow paced in mountain terrain

Holiday Highlights

  • Exclusive opportunity to join an exploration and survey tour of the area for its butterflies
  • Led by expert Lepidopterist Dr Simon Spencer & his wife Anne, both regular visitors to Greece
  • One centre tour, staying in a local family run hotel for the entire week
  • Highlights/target species include Dils’ Grayling, Black Ringlet, Higgin’s Anomalous Blue, Little Tiger Blue, Russian Heath, Gliders, Eros Blue, Yellow-banded Skipper, Nettle-tree & many more!
  • Take part in valuable survey efforts for the Dil’s Grayling
  • Experience one of the less visited parts of Greece
  • Relaxed pace ideally suited to photography & full enjoyment of the wildlife & scenery
  • Contribute to Butterfly Conservation

Explore Mount Falakron in Northern Greece for its rich butterfly fauna, including Dils’ Grayling, Black Ringlet, & at least 4 different anomalous  blues!


Holiday Guide

Dr Simon Spencer was trained as an entomologist and has worked on the conservation of butterflies in Wales and Shropshire for 25 years having been interested in butterflies all his life. He has led many informal trips to Europe to see butterflies and was the chairman of Butterfly Conservation’s European Butterflies Group (EBG) for many years. He is a part time farmer and is particularly interested in the effect of changes in grazing on butterflies.

He and his wife have travelled extensively in Europe in a camper van looking for butterflies and occasionally filming them.  He has been part of several collaborative projects in Europe where UK butterfly people work with local butterfly enthusiasts to survey and monitor butterflies.

Join butterfly expert Dr Simon Spencer for an exploration & survey of Mount Falakron in Northern Greece

We invite you to come with us to verdant Northeast Greece to stay at a welcoming local family run hotel in the small town of Volakas, situated at 830m above sea level. It is the gateway to the mighty Mount Falakron, home to one of the country’s largest ski resorts & rich in flora & butterfly fauna. This tranquil & beautiful mountainous region rewards the fairly infrequent visitor with lush quiet valleys, slopes & peaks clothes in forest & meadow, and to the north the wooded valley & deep gorges of the Nestos River, one of the largest & most ecologically important rivers in Greece.

Mount Falakron itself features several high peaks – Vardina 2,194 m, Chionotrypa 2,211 m and Agios Pavlos 1,768 m), with the highest being Profitis Ilias (2,232 m). In Greek the mountain is known as “Φαλακρό όρος”, meaning “bald mountain”. The mountain covers an area of 960 km2 and will be the main focus of our exploration, although we will also aim to venture further afield to visit one or more other excellent butterfly locations in the area.

The vegetation of Mount Falakron can generally be described as pseudomaquis at lower altitudes on southern slopes, dominated by Quercus coccifera & Carpinus orientalis. Above the maquis Pinus nigra forests are found, along with deciduous oak forest on the northeastern slopes. On higher and in damper areas (mainly the northern slopes) there are stands of Fagus sylvatica inside the Pinus nigra forests. Once above the tree line (at about 1,800m+) there are mountainous and subalpine grasslands, which cover a large area of the mountain and characterise it – hence its ‘Bald Mountain’ name.

Alongside a general exploration of the area for butterflies our group will assist in the long-term ambition of Butterfly Conservation’s European Butterfly Group to map the distribution of Dils’ Grayling Pseudochazara orestes which in Greece is only known to occur in this limited area around the Mount Falakron, Mount Orvilos & Mount Melikion massif.

Previous expeditions have been too late, but a 2018 visit established that the species emerges in late June. The butterfly then aestivates and can be found again in subsequent months.

Mount Falakron has a rich butterfly fauna with Black Ringlet Erebia melas to be found at higher altitudes. Here we could also see no less than 4 anomalous blues, including the very local Higgins Anomalous Blue (Polyommatus (=Agrodiaetus) nephohiptamenos). The word nephohiptamenos means ‘flying in the clouds’ and is an apt description for a species normally found on the tops of mountains where even in good weather there is usually lots of cloud.

The others are the widespread Ripart’s Anomalous Blue (P. ripartii), the newly described Falakron Anomalous Blue P. eleniae and Anomalous Blue (P. admetus).

Eastern Festoon Zerynthia cerysii is found at lower altitudes where many other species can also be found. Other target species include Powdered Brimstone G. farinosa, Oriental Meadow Brown H. lupina, Lattice Brown Kirinia roxelana, Lesser Spotted Fritillary M. trivia, Little Tiger Blue T. balkanicus, Lesser Fiery Copper L. thersamon, Russian Heath C. leander. 

 If weather and time permit, we will make a trip to the Rhodopi and hopefully find one or two Gliders N. sapho and rivularis and possibly Freyer’s Purple Emperor A. metis.

We hope to welcome you on this exciting & exclusive trip!

Day 1: Arrival & meet at Thessaloniki airport. Transfer to hotel (approx 3 hours). If time permits we will have our first excursion in the afternoon.

Days 2 – 7: Explore Mount Falakron & surroundings.

Day 8: Departure. Transfer to Thessaloniki airport.

To follow later

To follow later