Your holiday summary
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Spring flowers of Crete
Our tour offers the flower enthusiast the opportunity to see something of the remarkable 1700 wild plants found on this island, (much larger than Britain which has around 1500), one tenth of which are found no-where else in the world. Among the many bulbs, herbs, shrubs and trees we expect to see during our tour are asphodel, anemones, cyclamen, tulips, poppies, mullein, chrysanthemum, sage, Cretan ebony and the slightly disturbing and profoundly smelly Dragon Arum. One of the highlights of this unique flora is the 60 or so different orchids found on the island, the majority of which flower at this time of year.
This variety of flora is not spread evenly over the island so our itinerary has been planned to ensure we encounter a range of habitats that contribute to the natural beauty of the island; coastal sites, agricultural plains, rolling hills and mountain passes as well as archaeological sites and gorges – a Cretan speciality - where a specialised flora clothe the walls.
Other aspects of what has been described as a ‘continent in miniature’ can also be experienced during our tour; ancient Byzantine churches, traditional village life, relics from the island's long and troubled history and an abundant wildlife, all contribute to give you a special insight into the island.
- Return charter flights from London Gatwick to Heraklion (some regional flights may be available)
- Return transfers from airport to hotel
- Seven nights accommodation on bed and breakfast basis at the three star Ideon hotel in Rethymnon
- Welcome dinner and farewell lunch
- Full touring itinerary as detailed
- Tour Manager and local guide throughout
- Single room supplement
- Regional flight supplement (subject to availability)
- Holiday insurance
- Meals other than those stated
- Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls.
- Porterage and gratuities.
Fly from London Gatwick to Heraklion. On arrival in Heraklion, transfer by coach to Rethymnon (approx. one hour) and the Hotel Ideon. A welcome dinner at a local taverna is included.
Full day botanising at Georgioupolis and Aptera. The tour begins on the long stretch of beach of Georgioupolis where we will spend some time examining coastal plant species. From here we continue on to the archaeological site of Aptera, one of the most extensive archaeological sites in western Crete. Founded in the Geometric period the city reached its commercial peak as a Hellenistic settlement and later developed as a rural town under the Romans. It has a rural position with views of the bay of Souda and will be alive with the colours of spring. You will be able to botanise and gain some insight into Crete’s extensive history.
Full day botanising at the Minoan cemetery of Armeni and Aktounta. Excavation of the Minoan cemetery of Armeni has uncovered more than 200 graves and a wealth of Minoan artefacts, but it is also the main site on the island of the Vallonia oak with its acorns. Having spent some time botanising here we will head to the hill village of Spili for coffee before going on to the site of Aktounta, an area that is exceptional for orchids, particularly rainbow, provence and monkey varieties.
Full day botanising on the plateau of Omalos. Following the north coast in a westerly direction we will join a winding road that will take us high into the hills to reach the plateau of Omalos which, at an altitude of over 1000 metres, is surrounded by the high mountain tops of Lefka Ori. Whilst taking in the fresh mountain air and the views we will look for tulips, anemones and blackwidow iris, which we will hopefully find in abundance.
Full day to relax and explore Rethymnon at your leisure. Rethymnon has a colourful history and owes its character to periods of rule under the Venetians and Turks. Old buildings line narrow streets and the old town is full of cafes, restaurants and small shops selling local crafts and food.
Full day botanising at Kotsifou gorge, Plakias and Kourtalioti gorge. Heading south we journey through the Kotsifou gorge, where we will look for some of the typical flora found in Crete’s many gorges, to reach the coastal village of Plakias. Here we will botanise by the coast before having a lunch stop by the sea and returning to Rethymnon via another spectacular ravine, the Kourtalioti gorge.
Full day botanising on the Gious Kambos plateau. The Gious Kambos plateau is home to a variety of orchids, as well as a rare tulip; we also hope to find anemone, Turban buttercup, iris and fritillary. We will continue on to the Amari hill village of Thronos where our tour comes to an end. The Amari valley is one of the most untouched and fertile regions of Crete, fed year round by mountain springs, which keeps it lush even in the height of summer. Our farewell lunch (included) will be at the local taverna of Lambros Papoutsakis, a genuine local character who offers true village hospitality and Cretan cooking.
Transfer back to Heraklion airport for the return flight to London Gatwick.
NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.
Please note: the itinerary will include gentle walking of up to two to three hours each day in sometimes 'wild' countryside in order to fully experience a representative range of spring plants, so reasonable fitness and decent footwear with sturdy soles is essential.
Please note nothing too strenuous will be undertaken.
Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 20 passengers.
The Ideon hotel is a three star hotel located right next to Rethymnon's Venetian harbour and just a three minute walk from the back streets and narrow alleyways that characterise this old town and where you will find a choice of tavernas, cafes and interesting small shops.
The hotel offers comfortable air-conditioned rooms with private balcony, bath/shower, TV and telephone. The hotel facilities include a swimming pool, street cafe that overlooks the sea, lounge bar and restaurant.
This holiday is booked by phone. Click 'book now' to make a reservation request to our travel partner who will call you back to confirm your booking details and take payment. To speak to a representative now please call 0330 333 6761.
The services of the couriers, botanist Graham and driver Nikos were superb. Such a professional approach to our 20 travellers and a joy to have the above with us for the week. Nothing was too much trouble. We are booked again for 15th August.
A lovely holiday being taken to well chosen sites in beautiful Crete. Hotel staff, dining and bar facilities v. good. Rooms could be stronger on facilities and beds but service v.good I like the personal input that the company gave and am impressed that your staff were there on the ground, on this occasion , anyway to interact with the group. Thank you.
Mrs C Koutelieri