Admire the natural beauty and the flowers of Crete
Crete, the largest and most mountainous of the Greek islands, is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 8,335 square kilometers. Crete’s geographical position, climate and variety of altitude and terrain, have blessed this island with a wonderful diversity of flowers and plants. More than the half of the island is covered by mountain massifs and alpine zone with formation of caves, gorges and streams.1734 different plants are recorded with 10% of these being endemics. 66 native plants are threatened and 183 native plants are protected.
The distinctive habitat preferences of many flowers have created a magnificent unique flora which can be discovered every month of the year depending on the species.
The special interest of the Cretan flora lies in the very considerable number of species which are endemic or have an eastern Mediterranean or Anatolian distribution.
Our daily excursions in nature of Crete!!!
1. South area of Mt. Idi
Depart to Messara Plain for a Full Day Flower Watching Excursion.
We will visit the South Area of Mt. Idi (or Psiloritis) passing from the villages of Agia Varvara, and Gergeri where will shall see the small natural history museum. Arriving at Zaros we will be able to see a variety of Cretan flowers such as "Petromarula Pinnata" and other endemic flowers.
In our excursion we can include a visit to the ancient palace of Festos which is on our way to Komos. At Komos' beach we shall discover the flowers and the sand dunes – seashore vegetation.
Depending on the season we may see some of the following flowers: Petromarula pinnata (endemic genus), Campanula pelviformis Cyclamen creticum, Origanum microphyllum, various orchids, Ebenus cretica, Gladioulus, Iris, Ranunculus.
2. Around Lassithi Plateau
Meet with English Speaking Botanist and depart to the largest Plateau of Crete, Lassithi Plateau at the altitude of 800 meters.
Flower watching towards the plateau with small stops on route. Optional visit to Byzantine churches (Panagia Gouverniotissa, Panagia Kera) and Zeus birthplace – Dictaion Cave.
Flower watching around the periphery of Lassithi plateau.
Depending on the season we may see some of the following flowers: Campanula pelviformis, Cyclamen creticum, Origanum microphyllum.
3. Archanes and Giouhtas Mt.
Depart to the picturesque village of Archanes at the foot of Mountain Giouhtas. We will hike and see flowers on the path towards the summit of Giouhtas. On Mount Giouhtas - highest peak 811 m. - scientific research has registered 360 plant species, eighteen of which are native (endemic) to Crete or Greece (Walking time 1½ hour).
After a break, we will descend the mountain by following the comfortable dirt road, stopping on route to see the flowers. (Walking time 1 hour)
Free time in Archanes village, one of the most beautiful in Crete, with cobbled alleys, Byzantine churches, refurbished neo-classical buildings with facades painted in elegant earthly colours, little courtyards teaming with flowers, traditional coffee shops and old stately homes.
Depending on the season we may see some of the following flowers: A lot of aromatic plants can be seen there like sage (Salvia fruticosa thyme) and Coridithymus capitatus. A lot of flowers from the orchids’ family like Orchis sp., Ophrys sp. and Barlia robertiana.
4. Preveli and Kourtaliotis River
We shall walk from the old Venetian stone bridge passing from small water falls till the beach of Phoenix where the Kourtaliotis River flows into the Libyan Sea. Not far from there is the famous monastery of Preveli. The whole area is quite remarkable for its fertility and the richness of its flora and fauna. The diverse vegetation (284 different plants, including self-planted palm trees – “phoenix theophrasti”), offers an exotic impression to this beautiful landscape.
From there we shall continue our daily excursion to Spili village. There is the starting point of walking expeditions to the plateau above Spili where you can enjoy a rare variety of Cretan flora.
Depending on the season we may see some of the following flowers: a lot of impressive bulbous plants like Tulips (Tulipa doerfleri), Grape hyacinth (Muscari sp.), wild gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus), Orchids (Orhcis sp.) and trees like wild pears (Pyrus spinosa).
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