ITALY'S SECRET GARDEN
Wildlife Tour to the Gargano. Join Greentours amongst fifty species of Orchids and many spring flowers
The Gargano’s tranquil limestone hills rise to over three thousand feet and manage to pack an unbelievable flora into an area only fifty miles across. From the beautiful cool green beech and oak forests and limestone karst moonscapes of the higher reaches the hills plunge towards a deep blue Adriatic where the local inhabitants cling to the cliff-tops in stunning jumbled white-walled towns.
No less than 72 orchid species have been recorded and we should see over 48 during our stay. The sheer abundance of Pink Butterfly Orchids and Green-winged Orchids is a revelation and amongst these we can find swarms of the Gargano’s speciality - Bee Orchids. Many are found only in this region - Ophrys apulica, Ophrys archipelagi, Ophrys parvimaculata, Ophrys promontorii and the abundant and aptly-named Ophrys garganica. There’s Serapias apulica, improbably decorating a motorway verge, and Serapias laxiflora, also Ophrys virescens, rare Ophrys sipontensis, Ophrys funerea and the lovely Spectacle Ophrys. In Southern Murgia we shall find the local endemics Ophrys tarentina and Ophrys celiensis. But orchids are only part of the show. Swathes of Anemones, Cyclamens, Violas and Narcissus poeticus decorate the woodland floor. Woodpeckers, Hawfinches and Flycatchers inhabit their newly leafy boughs. Swallowtails and Southern Festoons sail across fields adorned with superb shows of Irises and Wild Tulips.
At reed-rimmed coastal wetlands are Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Bearded Tits, Greater Flamingos and colonies of pink-washed Slender-billed Gulls. We’ll find the huge blooms of Paeonia mascula and gorgeous Paeonia peregrina, endemic Campanula garganica, half a dozen Star-of-Bethlehem’s, Tulipa sylvestris, and amongst several irises are fine groups of Iris pseudopumila, Iris lutescens and the endemic Iris bicapitata. Rare Arum apulum inhabits the lovely Itria Valley. We have chosen very peaceful hotels so that you can enjoy the wonderful fauna, flora and scenery of the Gargano right up to your hotel balcony!
Orchids and Spring Flowers. Also Birds, Butterflies, Reptiles and Landscapes. Just a little culture too!
Relaxed and easy. Always at a slow pace, ideally suited to photographers. Much the time will be spent in fields and terraces on limestone where the ground may be a little rough.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in Italy. Services of your leaders. Please note: items of a personal nature including travel insurance, drinks and tips, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 12. Only one leader will accompany a group of 6 or less.
We start with two nights at the Masseria Salamina. The Salamina started way back in 1600 when the olive trees that surround it were planted. The castle-like exterior belies the very comfortable and beautifully-furnished interior, the rooms are simply lovely, the swimming pool a delight, and there’s great views out over the Adriatic. The Hotel Poggio Degli Ulivi sits on a hill just west of Rodi Garganico and has wonderful views out over the Adriatic. We’ve three nights to enjoy the restaurant which serves great local cuisine, the swimming pool (if it’s warm enough!) and the bright modern air-conditioned rooms. Later we’ll move south to the Palace Hotel San Michele, over 2,500 feet above sea-level, and with magnificent views south to the Golfo di Manfredonia. This very comfortable hotel has a fine restaurant, orchid-filled terraces in one direction and the lovely old town-centre of Monte Santangelo a short walk in the other! All these are quality four-star hotels and all rooms have en-suite facilities.
UK return flights are direct from London Gatwick to Bari. Add-ons are available from various UK airports*. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Rather variable. Mostly warm and sunny, but sometimes cooler with showers or even occasional rainy days.
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 and bird checklists are available.