Autumn Bulbs of GreeceEurope
Nestling at the foot of a high cliff on the slopes of Mount Parnassos, Delphi looks out over sea of olives in the Itea Valley to the Gulf of Corinth and the Peloponnese beyond. It is a sublime location for one of the finest classical sites in Greece.
Rock Nuthatches are busy probing crevices in the ruins, whilst Cirl Buntings, Sombre Tits and Rüppell’s Warblers are all inured to people, having just experienced the summer rush! So it’s a great place to get close to these birds as Delphi enters its autumn quietude. Splashes of bright yellow Sternbergia lutea light up the slopes around the great Kastalia Spring. White-banded Graylings and Pygmy Skippers fly up as we photograph the dark-anthered pink goblets of Colchicum cupanii, abundant here. Autumnal maquis is a colourful sight, the open ground between the red, tawny and gold bushes dotted with the white stars of Crocus hadriaticus subspecies parnassicus, whilst Crocus cancellatus subspecies maaziaricus is a delicate shade of blue set-off by vibrant orange styles. Tortoises will be keeping a wary eye out for the Golden Eagles above as we photograph deep pink tessellated Colchicum bivonae. Lanner Falcon flies above barren-looking slopes by the ski resort where Alpine Accentor, Shore Lark and Snowfinch search our titbits amongst strange little Sternbergia colchiciflora.
Parnassos’s sister mountains, Vardousia and huge Giona, dominate a fantastically wild and beautiful region, their skirts rumpled by ridges cloaked in Greek Fir and Chestnut, and cut by tremendous gorges. Cyclamens produce fine shows under woods home to White-backed and Black Woodpeckers. White spires of Ungernia are altogether more obvious than diminutive Autumn Ladies Tresses, but are not so strident as the magnificent pink clumps of Epilobium fleisheri. The endemic Crocus robertianus blooms vigorously in these Southern Pindhos mountains and we’ll also seek Merendera attica and Colchicum parnassicum. Higher up, as Griffon Vultures soar high in the blue skies and Rock Partridges shout from rocky promontories we’ll find the rather worryingly-named Colchicum confusum.
For the second half of the tour we’ll move to the Peloponnese where autumn sees a magnificent show of colourful bulbs adorning the sublime scenery of the Mani Peninsula and the Taygetos Mountains at the southern tip of the Peleponnese.
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!
Dates and Prices
13th October - 27th October 2024 (15 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Autumn Bulbs. Also Birds, Historical Sites and Landscapes.
One leader for a group of up to 6, two leaders up to 12, and a third leader will join the group up to the maximum group size of 15.
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.
Flower, butterfly and bird checklists are available.
For the first four nights of the holiday we’ll stay at the lovely Nefeles Guesthouse, a kilometre out of Arachova on the road to Delphi. The colourfully decorated rooms are well-equipped with modern comforts and each has a balcony with views of Mount Parnassos and the Plistos Valley. The Emotions Country Resort in the picturesque village of Voutiro, near Karpenisi, the self-styled ‘Switzerland of Greece’, is our base for the next two nights. Rooms are very comfortable, the food excellent, and views… well, very Swiss!
Next we’ve a night at the Coco-mat Hotel in Kifisia, close to Parnitha National Park. The first and last nights on the Peloponnese 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.
Very easy. No more than a couple of miles in any one day, and always at a relaxed pace, ideally suited to photographers.
UK return flights are direct from Heathrow, Edinburgh* or Manchester* to Athens. 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 individually. Please see the Peloponnese in Autumn or Delphi tour pages for more information.
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.