Tours that take the strain out of enjoying Europe's flora and fauna! Based in a single good quality hotel, with direct flights in both directions, and these at kind times of day. For this tour flights are available from London and Manchester airports to Athens – ask us for details. Field trips will be kept to a maximum of six or so hours giving you plenty of time to relax both before and after.
The Cycladic Islands are right there at the dawn of Greek civilization. Cyclades refers to the ‘circle’ of islands around the sacred and uninhabited island of Delos, revered as the birthplace of Apollo. The islands themselves were the Oceanids, the daughters of Tethys and Oceanus, these turned into rock by Poseidon when they provoked his rage. Though a number of the islands such as Mikonos suffer (or enjoy) the bounty of modern package tourism, the majority, including lovely Kythnos have settled into a very tranquil existence in the 21st century.
Kythnos has no airport and so one has to arrive by ferry. The island is at the junction of the Myrtoan and Aegean Seas and marine life is rich. On our ferry journey we’ll see Dolphins, hopefully more than one species, as well as Shearwaters, and hopefully Manta Rays. These spectacular animals migrate through these seas at this season. Indeed underwater life is exceptionally beautiful in the seas around Kythnos’s one hundred kilometre coastline though the water will be a bit chilly for snorkeling at this time of year. However, it is a good time to see one of Europe’s most endangered mammals, the Mediterranean Monk Seal which has one of its most important populations in the northeast of the island.
Another must-see is the lovely black fritillary. Fritillaria obliqua subspecies tuntasia is a gorgeous plant, its shiny almost black bells adorning ancient forests of twisted junipers and oaks. It is only found on Kythnos and the neighboroung island. Endemic Campanula reiseri blooms on rocks around the castle ruins of the Byzantine Kastro Orias spectacularly sited on a headland, and the endemic catchfly Silene cynthia blooms here too. During the migration dozens of birds of prey are passing through, with Bonelli's Eagles breeding on some isolated coastal cliffs.
We’ll stay in the island’s capital, Hora. With under 600 inhabitants Hora is not exactly difficult to get to know and you’ll enjoy wandering the narrow streets past the typically Aegean white-washed houses, the local homes only interrupted here and there by the odd ceramic shop. The mix of fields and terraces close to our hotel is a happy hunting ground for the orchid lover and we’ll look for Ophrys lutea and the little Bumble-Bee Orchid. Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers flit about the little Pistachia bushes lining the terraces. The beaches at Apokrousi and Episkopi, and the ephemeral wetlands behind them, are a magnet for migrant birds at this season and we can expect a range of waders, egrets and herons as well as a variety of warblers and wheatears. In the southern part of the island we’ll find a landscape full of flowers. Here are orchids such as Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys tenthredinifera, Pink Butterfly Orchid and Bug Orchid. Narcissus tazetta decorates rocks close to the shore. We’ll visit Maroulas, probably the oldest human settlement in the Cycladic Islands dating from some 10,000 years ago in the Mesolithic era. The sea has since risen but parts of the settlement are still visible. Around the corner in Loutra, there are natural hot springs reputed to provide medical cures, and these might be the perfect way to end of the tour!
Flowers, Birds, Marine Life and Ancient Sites.
Kurt Vickery, First Leader; David Koutsogiannopoulos
No more than two or three miles in any one day, and always at a slow pace, ideally suited to photography.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in Greece. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature, including insurance, are not included.
One leader for a group of up to 6, two leaders up to the maximum group size of 12.
The entire holiday will be at Filoxenia Hotel, in the island’s capital, Hora. This lovely place has pleasant light and airy rooms, each with a little balcony. It’s easy to wander the streets of tiny Hora from here or get out into the fields and terraces that surround the village. The rooms all have en suite WCs/showers.
UK direct return flights to Athens are available from Lond Airports and Manchester*. Indirect routes may be available from other airports*.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Often settled, sunny and warm, though cooler weather with some rain can pass through for a day or two at this season.
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 checklists are available.