Crete & The PeloponneseEurope
Crete in October offers winter sunshine and warm seas, and after the first October rains there comes autumn colour from Colchicums, Crocuses, Sternbergias and Narcissi.
In shaded valleys we’ll find pink Cyclamen graecum and Autumn Ladies Tresses. Swallowtails and Clouded Yellows are still on the wing as we enjoy two more cyclamen found in the west of Crete – Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen confusum. On beaches along the North Coast and the tiny island of Elaphonisos (linked to the mainland by a sand bar) we shall find the sweetly scented Sea Daffodil Pancratium maritimum. Scythe-winged Eleonora’s Falcons hawk overhead. There are woodlands of Chestnut and majestic Plane trees, Strawberry Trees and gnarled and ancient Junipers. On the Rodopou Peninsula we will see extensive populations of Cyclamen amongst the ripening olive groves and we will stop for a meal at one of Crete’s finest tavernas on Crete hidden in a tiny cove.
We shall explore dramatic gorges, with Griffon Vultures, Red-billed Chough and hopefully Lammergeiers overhead. The endemic purple Origanum dictamnus will be in flower amongst chasmophytes such as Inula candica and the endemic Ebenus cretica. We can find Sternbergia sicula, and the delicate white flowers of Allium callimischon subspecies haemostictum with red-dotted petals. Sweetly-scented Narcissus serotinus and pink Colchicum pusillum adorn many hillsides. Narcissus tazetta and the strange and tiny flowers of Biarum davisii emerge from rocky outcrops. Also in flower at this time will be Mandragora autumnalis, Ranunculus bullatus, Arisarum vuglare, Clematis cirrhosa and Erica manipuliflora. Large flowering spikes of Sea Squill Charybdis maritima, and drifts of the delicate Autumn Squill Prospero autumnale will be common. We’ll look for Crocus laevigatus and the endemic Colchicum cretense. We will be able to explore the archaeology of Crete’s long history, with frescoed chapels, the wonderful Venetian town of Chania, and the Roman cisterns and aqueducts of Polyrinia. We will, of course, be sampling the excellent Cretan cuisine in the local tavernas throughout this trip.
We’ll fly back to the mainland Greece 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
Plants, especially autumn bulbs, birds and butterflies, historical sites and landscapes, and Greek culture and food.
One leader for a group of up to 6, two leaders up to the maximum group size of 12.
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.
For the first five nights of the tour we’ll stay in the lovely Spilia Village, surrounded by citrus and olives and set on a hillside overlooking the seaside village of Kolymbvari. Hundreds of years ago the hotel was first a factory then an olive press but recently has been elegantly converted into a small hotel of great character. The rooms are stunningly furnished and very comfortable, there’s a spa and sauna, and the breakfasts are gorgeous! At Anapoli we have two nights at the welcoming Kopasis Rooms, which have balconies with stunning views over the magnificent gorge there. The first and last nights on the mainland 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.
Usually gentle, however on Crete some days we’ll walk two to three miles or so, and on the Sirikari Gorge day there is a downhill walk of some five miles. There will be another option with less walking on this day. In the Peleponnese, the walking is very easy, no more than a couple of miles in any one day, at a relaxed pace suitable for photographers.
UK flights are direct from London Gatwick or Manchester* to Chania, returning from Athens to either of those airports or Heathrow. Add-ons are available from various UK airports*. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available. This tur also includes an internal flight from Chania to Athens.
*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 as one week tours. Please see the Crete in Autumn or The Peloponnese tour pages for details.
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.