Wildlife Holiday Tour Autumn Bulbs Crocus, Stenbergias and Cyclamon on Crete with Greentours
Crete in October offers winter sunshine and warm seas, and after the first October rains there comes autumn colour from Colchicums, Crocuses, Sternbergias and Narcissi.
In shaded valleys we’ll find pink Cyclamen graecum, Autumn Ladies Tresses and Crocus laeivigatus with bright orange anthers. Swallowtails and Clouded Yellows are still on the wing as we enjoy two more cyclamen found in the west of Crete – Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen confusum. On beaches along the North Coast and the tiny island of Elaphonisos (linked to the mainland by a sand bar) we shall find the sweetly scented Sea Daffodil Pancratium maritimum. Scythe-winged Eleonora’s Falcons hawk overhead. There are woodlands of Chestnut and majestic Plane trees, Strawberry Trees and gnarled and ancient Junipers. On the Rodopou Peninsula we will see extensive populations of Cyclamen amongst the ripening olive groves and we will stop for a meal at one of Crete’s finest tavernas on Crete hidden in a tiny cove.
We shall explore dramatic gorges, with Griffon Vultures, Red-billed Chough and hopefully Lammergeiers overhead. The endemic pink-purple Origanum dictamnus will be in flower amongst chasmophytes such as Inula candica and the endemic Ebenus cretica. We can find Sternbergias sicula, and the delicate white flowers of Allium callimischon subspecies haemostictum with red-dotted petals. Sweetly-scented Narcissus obsoletus and pink Colchicum pusillum adorn many hillsides, and the strange and tiny flowers of Biarum davisii emerge from rocky outcrops. Also in flower at this time will be Mandragora autumnalis, Ranunculus bullatus, Arisarum vuglare, Clematis cirrhosa and Erica manipuliflora. Large flowering spikes of Sea Squill Charybdis maritima, and drifts of the delicate Autumn Squill Prospero autumnale will be common. We’ll look for large flowered Colchicum macrophyllum and the endemic Colchicum cretense. We will be able to explore the archaeology of the Roman cisterns and aqueducts of Polyrinia, vistit tiny chapels and the beautiful monestary of Gonia. We will, of course, be sampling the excellent Cretan cuisine in the local tavernas throughout this trip.
Autumn sees an almost miraculous floral display erupting from the parched tawny landscapes of the Eastern Mediterranean. Few places can match the magnificent show of colourful bulbs that decorates the glorious scenery of the Mani Peninsula and the Taygetos Mountains at the southern tip of the Peleponnese in Greece.
Sheets of white Crocus boryi are interrupted by patches of golden-yellow Sternbergias. Some come in more than one colour form: Crocus hadriaticus in blue and white, Cyclamen graecum in both white and pink. Delicate beauties with darkly-feathered petals and black anthers are Crocus biflorus melantherus. Perhaps the most beautiful of all is lovely Crocus goulimyi whose wide-open mauve-purple flowers bloom in great photogenic clusters, though the startling Crocus cartwrightianus may take this prize. The immense walls of magical Mycenae are home to pretty Allium callimischon and Greece’s wonderful historical sites and mythology will again be to the fore at Mystra’s fabulous Byzantine Churches. Sweetly scented Narcissus serotinus and elegant Galanthus reginae-olgae adorn pastures below forests of Grecian Fir and brilliant pink Colchicum parlattoris mixes with a carpet of Scilla autumnalis and recently described Colchicum sfikasianum. Oedipoda caerulea grasshoppers flash blue hind wings as they erupt in front of grazing Hermann’s Tortoises. Our base for most of the holiday is the delightful fishing village of Gythio where the cinnamon-coloured hills of the wild Taygetos range descend to the sea. Kingfishers zip about the harbour and there are a goodly number of butterflies still about, Pygmy Skippers are frequent, we’ll see Lang’s Short-tailed Blue and Eastern Bath White, and most notable is one of Europe’s most spectacular species, the Plain Tiger. This promises to be a wonderful floral experience set in a superbly stark landscape with plenty of blue skies and a shimmering blue sea!
Autumn Bulbs. Also Butterflies, Historical Sites and Landscapes. Also Greek food!
Fiona Dunbar, Owen Mountford, Kurt Vickery, Paul Green, For the first week Fiona Dunbar will be first leader, Owen Mountford the second. For the second week Kurt Vickery will be first leader and Paul Green will be second.
Usually gentle, however on Crete some days we’ll walk two to three miles or so, and on the Sirikari Gorge day there is a downhill walk of some five miles. There will be another option with less walking on this day. In the Peleponnese, the walking is very easy, no more than a couple of miles in any one day, at a relaxed pace suitable for photographers.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport and meals in Greece. Services of your leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
One leader for a group of up to 5, two leaders up to 10, and a third leader will join the group up to the maximum group size of 15.
For the first five nights of the tour we’ll stay in the lovely Spilia Village, surrounded by citrus and olives. Hundreds of years ago the hotel was first a factory then an olive press but recently has been elegantly converted into a small hotel of great character. The rooms are pleasantly furnished and very comfortable, there’s a spa and sauna, and the breakfasts are gorgeous! At Anapoli we have two nights at the welcoming Kopasis Rooms, which have balconies with stunning views over the magnificent gorge there. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
The first and last nights of the Peleponnese part of the holiday we will be at the lovely Arxontiko Kefalari, a restored 19th century mansion set 800m up in the hills above Mycenae. For the rest of the holiday (5 nights) we stay in the comfortable and friendly Hotel Pantheon near the waterfront at Gythio. This picturesque fishing village is at the northern end of the Mani Peninsula. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are direct from London Gatwick or Manchester* to Chania. Add-ons are available from various UK airports*. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Warm and sunny with blue skies for the most part, although some rain and cloud can be hoped for, not least by the flowers!
Either the first or the second week can be done as one week tours. Please see the Crete in Autumn or The Peloponnese tour pages for details.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. Flower, butterfly and bird checklists are available.