The Heart of the Coral Triangle
Tours that take the strain out of enjoying Europe’s flora and fauna! Tours under this banner will be based in a single good quality hotel, and will have direct flights, and these at kind times of day. And most importantly, field trips will be kept to a maximum of six or so hours, giving you plenty of time to relax before and after.
Three east-west mountain ridges form the backbone of the spectacular landscapes of Cilento. The stunning landscapes and the cultural history combine to justify Cilento’s status a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park protects much of this sublime landscape – it is Italy’s second largest national park. The mountains are impressive. Monte Bulgheria reaches over 4000 feet above sea level before dropping precipitously to the deep blue Tyrrhenian Coast. White cliffs hug beautiful crescents of sand, unreachable by anything but boat.
Virgil’s Aeneid recounts how Palinurus, the helmsman of the Trojan Aeneas’s ship, was singled out for sacrifice off this coast to ensure the safe passage of all on board; he was drugged by the god of sleep and thrown overboard and the beach of Cilento took his body. Today, one of the Europe’s most unusual and beautiful Primulas honours Palinurus’s name. Decorating the coastal cliffs above those same beaches Primula palinuri is perhaps one of Europe’s most unusual wild flowers. Large umbels of bright yellow flowers top a rosette of large lime green leaves in cracks in the cliff, an arresting and beautiful sight. It has an extremely restricted distribution in coastal areas of the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea. A fantastically architectural mini-forest of Euphorbia dendroides cloaks the slopes and drapes from the cliffs. We’ll take a boat trip along this most scenic of coasts to a secret place where we’ll see the very best displays of the Primula along with the rare Fritillaria messanensis subspecies gracilis, a recently described form which is known from only three localities. Tufts of white Iberis semperflorens are a fine sight amongst the strawberry trees.
Olive groves close by our quiet rural hotel will already be alive with colourful Anemones, ivory Bellevalia romana and abundant Cerinthe major. A rich variety of spring flowers include Allium roseum, the last blooms of the unusual Widow Iris, and orchids. Particularly prevalent in the area is Dactylorhiza romana, but there are many bee orchids too including Bumble-Bee Orchid, Early Spider Orchid and the lovely Ophrys exaltata.
Golden Eagles soar above quiet lanes in the higher mountains that offer wonderful views down to the brilliant blue Tyrrhenian Sea. Here amongst lovely open woodlands we can find plentiful Helleborus foetidus as well as Anemone hortensis and Romulea bulbocodium. Rock Partridges scurry for cover as we walk. Stands of Viburnum tinus are smothered in white blooms, making for a perfect picture with the green and grey mountain slopes and the cobalt sea below.
Dates and Prices
24th March - 28th March 2025 (5 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Please note; dates and prices are provisional and will be confirmed by August 2024
Flowers, Birds and Landscapes.
One leader for a group of up to 6, two leaders up to the maximum group size of 12.
All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation in Italy. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips and items of a personal nature, including insurance, are not included. Butterfly and bird checklists are available.
Close by flowery olive groves, the quiet little Hotel San Paolo will be our base for the entire holiday. All rooms on this tour have en-suite facilities.
Relaxed and easy. Up to two or three miles a day and always at a slow pace, perfectly suited to flower photographers.
UK direct return flights to Naples are available from London Gatwick, London Heathrow and Manchester Airports. Indirect flights are available from various regional airports*.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Variable. Often warm and sunny with some showers, though sometimes cooler with occasionally prolonged wet weather.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back 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. This will contain up-to-date health information.