Spring Flower Tour, Wildlife and Reptiles in Rural Sardinia and Corsica with Greentours
The ‘lost world’ of the Giara di Gesturi is a landscape as unexpected as it is strangely beautiful. Outcrops of pinky-black basalt and prehistoric ‘nuraghi’ emerge from marshy meadows and dwarf Cork Oak woodlands on plateaux two thousand feet above sea level.
As a chorus of trills from Tyrrhenean Tree Frogs rises from pools we’ll enjoy lovely Crocus minimus and pink-purple Romulea revelieri amongst several orchids. Newly described Ophrys ortuabis blooms with yellow Anemones under the shadow of six-thousand feet high Monti del Gennargentu. We’ll visit a wood full of the endemic Paeonia morisii, a startling sight. Lower down the beguiling landscapes that lie between our ideally placed hotel and the Fluminese are rich in orchids. One of Europe’s most beautiful orchids, Orchis longicornu is rather common, and mixes with Pink Butterfly Orchid and the endemic Orchis ichnusae. The lovely Mirror Orchid is a frequent sight and amongst a host of commoner Bee Orchids we’ll see plenty of the island’s specialities of which there are quite a number! Ophrys eleonorae has lips of glowing blue and purple, endemic Ophrys chestermannii large velvety square flowers, and oval-lipped flowers of grey, purple and pink belong to exquisite Ophrys morisii.
The little green orchid Gennaria diphylla joins several species of Romulea, Bellardia and Barbary Nuts in one of Europe’s pre-eminent wetlands, the little-known Sinis. Corsican Swallowtails fly amongst dunes by lagoons that are home to birds such as Audouin’s Gulls. Even as we land at Cagliari’s airport we’ll see flocks of Greater Flamingoes on lagoons next to the runway - Sardinia’s that sort of place!
At the end of the week in Sardinia, you will tranfer to Corsica with the Leader by minibus and ferry to Corsica.
Scenically attractive Corsica has long held an interest to naturalists, there are many elegantly penned articles from a bygone era with prose redolent of aromatic maquis and dramatic gorges.
Brick pink granitic cliffs sweep down to the sea west of Ajaccio, where yellow Calicotome villosa dominates maquis that has a rich flora including Convolvulus sicula and Succowia balearica. Southern coastal limestone is home to beautiful Erodium corsicum, endemic Morisia monanthos, and fine hummocks of Astragalus massiliensis. Orchids include Orchis laxiflora and bee orchids such as Ophrys morisii, Ophrys marmorata and Ophrys lutea corsica. Corsican Dappled White and the Corsican Swallowtail are on the wing as we stop by roadsides dotted with Green-winged and Pink Butterfly Orchids. Cytinus hypocistus’s yellow flowers glow from crimson bracts amongst Cistus, and in meadows there are displays of Serapias hardly matched elsewhere in the Mediterranean with large-flowered Serapias cordigera and Serapias neglecta and the common Serapias lingua. In the mountainous interior extensive Corsican Pine forests are home to the endemic Corsican Nuthatch, and a second endemic bird, Corsican Finch, is rather common, especially amid Sweet Chestnut woods. Endemics continue with the rare Tyrrhenian Tree Frog, European Leaf-toed Gecko, and Pygmy Algyroides.
In the south Kerry Lily blooms,and the broomrapes Orobanche rigens and Orobanche sanguinea are both beautiful richly-coloured species. Narcissus tazetta and Romulea requienii decorate rocky crevices and shorelines have much Matthiola tricuspidata, Medicago marina,and purple-streaked Silene sericea. Moving inland we’ll find Brimeura fastigata and Pancratium illyricum, which unlike its more widespread European cousin flowers far up into the mountains.
Cyclamen repandum blooms at all altitudes,with Corydalis pumila at higher passes amid a selection of gageas, and slopes covered with pretty lilac Crocus corsicus, the outside of the flowers etched with deep purple lines. Fabulous mounds of Saxifraga cervicornis adorn shaded rocks in a narrow gorge where Armeria leucocephala, Saxifraga corsica, Arenaria balearica, and Orchis olbiensis bloom. On the east coast we will see the endangered Anchusa crispa at one of its remaining sites. Our hotel in the Gorges du Restonica sits beside the cascading river, Helleborus argutifolius flowering abundantly nearby.
Sardinia: Spring Flowers, particularly Orchids. Also Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, and superb rural Landscapes. Corsica: Flowers. Also Butterflies, Birds and Odonata.
Relaxed and easy. Up to two or three miles a day and always at a slow pace, perfectly suited to photographers.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation in Sardinia and Corsica. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature including travel insurance, are not included.
Corsica: The minimum group size is 5 and the maximum is 15 (12 on the Sardinia week). Only one leader will accompany a group of 6 or less.
In Sardinia we will be staying for the entire week at the Agriturismo Su Massaiu. Set atop a low hill and surrounded by orchards this lovely little hotel has views up to the Giara and is close to the famous Nuraghe of Barumini. Almonds and Olives populate Su Massaiu’s orchards and the farm is well-known for its organic produce that includes lavender, melons, lentils, vegetables and the precious Turri Saffron. The pleasant rooms are set around a wide courtyard in which there is a swimming pool. Each room has its own verandah entrance. All have air-conditioning, wifi and en suite WC/shower.
In Corsica we start with a night in L’Hôtel La Pinède a little along the coast towards Parata from Ajaccio. The hotel is in a lovely spot with pleasant gardens and is right by the sea. The rooms are large and comfortable. Next we’ve four nights in the central mountains in the magnificent scenery of the Gorges du Restonica. Our hotel, the very comfortable Dominique-Colonna, is set in a well-wooded stretch of the gorge and right by the rushing river, a very lovely setting indeed. We finish the holiday with two nights at the Hôtel U Libecciu, beautifully situated amongst oaks and Strawberry Trees at the head of the Gulf of Figari. The hotel is a stylish modern place with large and airy rooms. All rooms on this holiday have en suite WCs and showers/baths.
UK return flights are direct from London Stansted to Cagliari. The return is from Figari via Nice to various UK Airports.
Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Variable but mostly clear and sunny with daytime temperatures between 12°C and 25°C. Rain is likely at some point and is occasionally prolonged.
It is possible to join this tour for the first 8 or the last 8 days. See the Sardinia and Corsica tour pages for further 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, bird and butterfly (also odonata of Corsica) checklists are available.