Explore the ancient world and wander upon some of the most celebrated butterfly mountains in the southern Greece!
For this holiday we invite you to join us in southern Greece for a relaxing week exploring two of the most celebrated butterfly mountains in the area, Mount Parnassos and Mount Chelmos. Our expert butterfly guide is accompanied by an equally expert local Greek botanist and all round naturalist. Together they will delight in showing you the best the region has to offer for summer flora and fauna, focusing largely on butterflies and flowers but also observing birds, reptiles, other invertebrates and any other wildlife of interest that may be discovered. Over fifty species of butterfly can be seen in a day on both mountains and we expect to enjoy a nice range of species with a total of somewhere between 80 – 100, possibly more depending on the season.
The habitats we’ll encounter during the week are wide ranging; meadow, alpine pasture & meadow, Olive & Cherry groves, pine forest, Mediterranean scrub, mountain streams & rivers, mountain gorges, archaeological sites and even spots in the town and surrounding villages, as numerous butterfly species can also be found there. As mentioned our wildlife spotting won’t be restricted to butterflies, although that is our main focus. We’ll also be on the lookout for flowers, birds, (such as Alpine Chough & Rock Nuthatch) dragonflies, (such as Beautiful Demoiselle & Greek Goldenring) and reptiles (such as the endemic Peloponnese Wall Lizard).
Upon arrival in Athens we’ll head north of the Gulf of Corinth, to Aráchova village, nestled in the foothills of Mount Parnassos, a place legendary amongst lepidopterists for its treasure trove of butterflies. Aráchova, at approx. 960m above sea level makes a convenient base from which to explore the mountain for the first two days of our holiday.
We’ll venture out at various altitudes of Mount Parnassos (which at its highest peak is approx. 2,250m) looking for both butterflies and numerous and interesting flower species. Some of the butterflies we will be looking out for include White-banded Grayling, Freyer’s Grayling, Krueper’s Small White, Amanda’s Blue, Blue Argus, Chapman’s Blue, Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Lesser Fiery Copper, Balkan Marbled White, Oriental Meadow Brown and Powdered Brimstone. In alpine meadows of higher altitudes we may find Greek Clouded Yellow, Clouded Apollo and Purple-shot Copper, amongst others. In accompaniment may be some interesting birds such as Alpine Chough and Blue Rock Thrush.
With the historic Delphi so close we’ll make a morning visit to wander amongst this magnificent archaeological site of international importance. Butterflies will still be on the menu and we may also enjoy some other interesting wildlife, such as reptiles amongst the ruins and birds such as Rock Nuthatch and Black-eared Wheatear. Later we’ll descend from the slopes and go on a quest to find Europe’s smallest butterfly – the Grass Jewel. We’ll need to fine tune our butterfly senses to find this tiny gem! But with our expert botanist on hand we should be at an advantage, by first seeking out Heliotrope, its local larval food plant.
For the second part of the week we will cross the Gulf of Corinth via the spectacular Rio bridge and on into the Peloponnese region. We will stay at a very comfortable hotel in the small and charming village of Kalavryta, on the north-west slopes of Mount Chelmos (pronounced Helmos), which is the Aroanian mountain range in the Peloponnese region of Greece. We’ll be spending several days exploring the mountain and some other interesting sites nearby.
During our stay we can expect to see a whole host of butterfly species on Chelmos; it is possible to see as many species in one day as there are in the whole of the UK! But that doesn’t mean rushing around or ticking a list. We want to give you every opportunity to indulge your passion for wildlife, by observing, photographing or sketching, and simply by being there to just inhale the wonders before your eyes and ears! Not only are there so many species of butterfly to encounter, at times we will be able to watch large numbers of individual species. Who wouldn’t want to pause and take in a show of dozens of Balkan Marbled White, Clouded Yellow or Black-veined White!
Whilst we’re on Chelmos we will of course be keen to seek out the famous Chelmos Blue. There are many other delights though; Southern White Admiral, Two-tailed Pasha, Clouded Apollo, Cleopatra, Lattice Brown, Large Wall Brown, Camberwell Beauty, Powdered Brimstone, Southern Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, Grecian Copper, Nettle Tree Butterfly, Large Tortoiseshell, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Spotted Fritillary, Cardinal, Great Banded Grayling, Mountain Small White, Escher’s Blue, Iolas Blue (a stunner and bigger than the Large Blue!) Anomalous Blue, Amanda’s Blue, Ilex Hairstreak, Greek Clouded Yellow, Olive Skipper, Oriental Marbled Skipper, Blue Argus, Osiris Blue, Odd-spot Blue, Pontic Blue, Greek Mazarine Blue (helena, often considered a distinct species), Balkan Grayling, Grecian Grayling, Blue-spot Hairstreak, Adonis Blue, Zephyr Blue, Ripart’s Anomalous Blue (pelopi, often considered a distinct species), Meleager’s Blue, Great Sooty Satyr, White-banded Grayling and many more!
Along the way we’ll be able to sample other local treasures too, like freshly picked cherries from local orchards, wild strawberries from hidden forest glades and the delicious honey that the many local beekeepers produce; a taste of mountain flowers and the Mediterranean sun in a jar!
The warm Greek climate and hospitality, a wealth of wildlife, breathtaking natural scenery, a hint of history and a bonanza of butterflies make for a truly memorable wildlife holiday!