12 day tour with Chris Gardner & Philipp Liepelt
A suite of early summer flowers illuminates the stunning uplands of the Pindos Mountains of northern and central Greece with beautiful lilies and some standout alpines among them. These include flowery mountain slopes populated with rich-yellow Lilium carniolicum
and woods illuminated with the orange of Lilium chalcedonicum
, whilst rocky mountain slopes have the stunning Convolvulus boissieri
and unique Campanula columnaris
. Alpine turf and woodland edge burst with colour at the start of summer, a swirl of violets, pinks, foxgloves and campanulas. And what better way to enjoy them than to walk in the mountains in the day, and spend comfortable nights in delightful hotels afterwards? This tour is designed to see a huge array of colourful mountain flora together with some pleasant day walks and outstanding cultural sights, as we move down the rugged spine of the Pindos Mountains. Enjoying the best of Greek hospitality, food and a very pleasant early summer climate.
Day 1 To Thessaloniki
Following a midday/early afternoon arrival at Thessaloniki, we will transfer to Agios Germanos, near the lovely Prespa Lakes that border Greece, Albania and Macedonia. Overnight Traditional Hotel.
Day 2 Mount Vournos
Mount Vournos has thriving populations of Lilium carniolicum
growing amid a wealth of other alpine flowers including Digitalis viridiflora
, Knautia magnifica
, Dianthus deltoides
, Viola macedonica
and the globular heads of Campanula foliosa
. The whole day will be spent exploring and enjoying these flowery high mountain slopes, with the chance to walk for a few kilometres across a pleasant alpine plateau. In the afternoon we’ll descend and drive back to the village of Agios Germanos. Overnight Traditional Hotel.
Day 3 To Papigo via Aoos Lake
In the morning we will transfer via the scenic Aoos Lake nestled in the northern Pindos Mountains where stands of Dactylorhiza saccifera
and patches of pretty Pinguicula crystallina
crowd serpentine seeps and verges are coloured with the rich pink of Lychnis coronaria
and powder-blue chicory. The night will be spent in the delightful stone-built village Zagorian village of Papigo set among the spectacular landscapes of Mount Timfi at the entrance to the dramatic Vikos gorge. Overnight Papaevangelou Hotel.
Day 4 Vikos Gorge
The spectacular defile of the Vikos Gorge is the highest and most spectacular in Europe. A small population of Lilium chalcedonicum
grows in the woods here. And nearby areas have impressive spikes of Himantoglossum caprinum
, Digitalis grandiflora
as well as the small chance of a late flowering Lilium candidum
. However, today is very much a cultural interlude with the chance to see some of the fine Ottoman bridges, precarious monasteries and the fine landscapes of Zagoria. Overnight Papaevangelou Hotel.
Day 5 Mount Flega
South-east of Papigo is Mount Flega, more of a long long ridge than a distinctive peak. Regardless it is a great area for a walk (8kms). The landscape is populated with impressive venerable Pinus leucodermis
with wonderful snakeskin bark, and the alpine turf is peppered with Dianthus haematocalyx
, Campanula typmphaea
and masses of rock roses. Climbing to the ridge there is a remarkable population of Lilium carniolicum
that clings on at the very top. The three-sixty views from the top are stunning taking in a huge slice of the Pindos. Overnight Papaevangelou Hotel.
Day 6 Meteora & Mount Pilion.
After breakfast we will drive to the stunningly positioned monasteries of Meteora, perched on precipitous boulders. From here the road leads to the botanically rich southern Pindos, stopping en route to look for the last flowers of the handsome Campanula incurva
on Mount Pilion and then on for a night beneath Mount Iti. Overnight Alexakis Hotel.
Day 7 Mount Vardousia
The localised and beautiful endemic Campanula columnaris
only occurs on this mountain. A long scenic country road makes its way there passing slopes packed with striking stands of Morina persica
and Verbascum speciosum
. To reach the campanulas and the many other interesting alpines we need to walk four kilometres and gain three hundred metres in altitude to the screes at the base of Mount Vardousia's crumbling cliffs. We will transfer onto near Mount Parnassos at the end of the day and the well positioned Hotel Skamnos with its’ inviting indoor pool. Overnight Hotel Skamnos.
Day 8 Mount Parnassos
Botanically rich Mount Parnassos will be the finale to our tour. A mountain road climbs to the ski centre from where we will hike across the rocky slopes to populations of Convolvulus boissieri
, surely one of the loveliest of all European alpines. Next to them grow cushions of Dianthus haematocalyx
. From here we can make our way slowly onto the upper ridge of the mountain where the rocks and cliffs that ring the high cirques are packed with interesting flowers from Edrianthus graminifolia
and Saxifraga sibthorpii
to tight cushions of Minuartia stellata
and big-belled Campanula rupicola
wedged into the limestone. Overnight Hotel Skamnos.
Day 9 Mount Parnassos and Delphi
Our final day around Parnassos will be to enjoy local meadows that have a healthy population of the sealing-wax red Lilium chalcedonicum, arguably the finest of all Greek lilies. They grow among abundant blue Nepeta nuda and various other meadow flowers. After lunch we will descend to the famous historical site of Delphi, former home of the Oracle, for a final touch of ancient Greek culture. Overnight Hotel Skamnos.
Day 10 To Evia
After a leisurely breakfast we'll leave the Parnassos area and make our way east towards Athens and then onto Evia Island. This is the second largest island in Greece (after Crete) and we'll be staying at a pleasant hotel surrounded by olive groves. Overnight Evia.
Day 11 Dyrfis
The more mountainous north is where we'll spend a final day, hiking onto the slopes to look for Pterocephalus perennis
, Scutellaria rupestris
and the endemics; Viola euboica
the lovely Rindera graeca.
Day 12 Flights home
Our return flights will be from Athens International Airport.