Join our popular guide Dr Yiannis Christofides for a brand new orchid focused tour in Sicily!
Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island. It has a Mediterranean flora rich in orchids, a number of which are endemic. A range of mountains, notably the active volcano Etna reach a height of 3,329 metres, further adding to the botanical diversity. We shall spend our time in the south-eastern corner of Sicily, visiting the nature reserves there, exploring the countryside for flowers, plants, butterflies and other wildlife.
We expect to see typical Mediterranean plants shrubs such as Olea europaea, Pistacia lentiscus, Erica multiflora, herbs such as Anthyllis vulneraria, Borago officinalis, Euphorbia characias, Ajuga chamaepitys, bulbs such as Anemone hortensis. Gynandriris sisyrinchium, Muscari comosum, Iris pseudopumila, Hermodactylus tuberosus and drifts of annuals such as Silene colorata, Lotus purpureus and Lathyrus clymenum carpeting whole areas.
But the highlight of the week will be the many orchids, including several Sicilian endemics such as Ophrys biancae and Ophrys lunulata. A dozen or more bewildering Ophrys are on the list including the beautiful Ophrys oxyrhynchos, Ophrys lacaitae, Ophrys speculum and Ophrys calliantha. Several species of Orchis, Anacamptis, Neotinea and Serapias will also be in flower.
We will see a number of early butterfly species such as Green-underside Blues, Little and Holly Blues, Green Hairstreak, Cleopatra, Clouded Yellow and Southern Festoon.
Birds such as Sardinian warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Blackcap, Hoopoe, Woodlark and Stonechat should be everywhere. Sicilian and Italian Wall Lizards and Moorish Gecko are the common reptile species here to see.
We shall visit one of the coastal reserves for the typical salt-marsh plants, as well as to see Greater Flamingo and a variety of water birds.
We shall also take in any archaeological remains with our area. We will visit the Necropoli di Pantalica, dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC, with and amazing 5,000 tombs excavated into the rock faces.