Vira Natura

Greece - Summertime in the Pindos

1-10 July 2020
From €2,675.00 per person
 10 day tour with Phillip Leipelt

 

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 subsp. jankae growing amid a wealth of other alpine flowers including Digitalis viridiflorus, 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 grandiflorus 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 subsp pindicola, Campanula typmphaea and masses of rock roses. Climbing to the ridge there is a remarkable population of Lilium carniolicum ssp. albanicum 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 subsp. ventricosus. 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 in the field 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      Flights home

Our return flights will be from Athens International Airport.

TOUR DATES

1-10 July  2020


TOUR COST

Per person: 2675 Euros

Single supplement: 360 Euros

Included:

  • 9 nights of accommodation
  • All food
  • Ground transport
  • Entry fees
  • Guide services

Not included:

  • Flights
  • Travel/Medical Insurance
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Personal expenses

GROUP SIZE

Minimum number of participants 5; maximum 12.

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