April 29th-May 9th 2011.
Leader John Richards
Price : in the region of £1100 per person ( London to London)
Single Supplement: £150
Land tour price: in the region of £900
Two places on this tour have been reserved for the Merlin Trust applicants.
A further two places have been reserved for holders of RHS Buraries.
To find out more about both these Bursaries, click on the links below.
This eleven-day tour is timed to follow after the garden tours, and will avoid the Greek Easter (April 26th). We shall fly to Athens from London Heathrow by scheduled service on Friday April 29th and will probably drive to Delphi (two hours 45 minutes) that evening, eating an evening meal en route. We shall travel in a small bus (25 seater).
Delphi is an attractive and extremely popular small town on the lower slopes of Parnassos and with wonderful views to the Gulf of Itea. It is feature of the town that walls and cliffs have a very rich flora, including many local specials such as Campanula topaliana.
On the whole, hotels and restaurants are much of a muchness, designed for mass tourism and one-night visits. We shall be staying at the superior, individual and recently modernised Hotel Pan (B & B). In Greece it is not usual to eat at the hotel, and we shall dine at the very good restaurant Omfalos, which has a range of home-cooked dishes and a superb view. Evening meals are not included in the price of the tour and you should allow about €12-15 for food and drinks each night. We shall each buy a simple picnic for lunch; there are several suitable small supermarkets.
One day we will botanise around the town and up the ‘zig-zag path’, including excellent stations for the local speciality Daphne jasminea and the weird Leontice.
It is possible to drive to nearly 2000m on Parnassos on paved roads. At about 1100 m at Livadia there is a rich area where we should see Iris attica and Tulipa australis in flower.
One of the main features higher up are masses of Crocus sieberi, C. veluchensis and their hybrids. Here are the two species growing together.
There is an excellent, but puzzling population of Fritillaria, which includes F. gracea, F. mutabilis and probable hybrids. Of course, many other bulbs and alpines are to be seen including many orchids; consult ‘Mountain Flower Walks, the Greek Mainland’,publication of the AGS!!
One morning, before the crowds arrive, we shall visit the ancient sites. My favourite area is the Tholos and Gymnasium below the road, where the people are few and the birding excellent!
After four days at Delphi, we shall drive to the Peloponnesos over the Patra bridge. From Akrata we will drive south into the Styx valley, north of Chelmos, staying in the remote and very comfortable hotel Xenodoxeio ‘Aroania’ close to the very pretty village of Zarouchia where there are several excellent tavernas. The woods in this area teem with Cyclamen peloponnesiacum and there are many orchids and other woodlanders, even primroses!
The next day we will take a scenic three km walk to the gravel beds of the Styx at Kastraki where many of the Chelmos rarities descend to low levels. Here we hope to see Diosphaera asperuloides, Teucrium aroanicum, Linum aroanum, Aquilegia amaliae, Crepis incana and other alpines.
After two nights at Zarouchia, we will take the excellent road over Chelmos. Here such rarities as Crocus olivieri, Gymnospermum albertii and many other spring bulbs flower close to the road.
We will spend three nights at the Hotel Filoxenia in Kalyvrita. This comfortable hotel is well-known to the AGS and several tours have stayed there recently. There are several excellent tavernas on the pedestrian walkway, which runs up the plateia nearby in the centre of the old town.
We will spend one of the days exploring around the ski centre on Chelmos, walking as high as the snow and state of the season suggests. Although we will be early for many of the alpines, the bulbs (including three corydalis and Colchicum triphyllum) should be excellent, and the curious Solenanthus stamineus will be flowering in almost its only European site. Viola graeca and V. aetolica carpet the ground.
We may find time to travel a few km north of Kalyvrita to visit the area around the Mega Spileo monastery, which has many good plants including several orchids.
On the other day at Kalyvrita we will journey south to Feneos, passing over the shoulder of Saitas. Here we will walk up to the dolines where the remarkable Adonis cyllenea and Biebersteinia orphanidis should be in flower. This is also a good area for orchids and other alpines, including Viola chelmea.
If time allows, we plan to visit the lake of Feneos, where there are good populations of orchids, including Dactylorhiza romana. We will visit the nearby monastery, very unspoilt and far from the tourist trail, from where there are wonderful views of Killini.
Leaving Kalyvrita, we will journey south-east, calling in first at the lake Stymfalia. Here are perhaps the best populations of Asperula arcadiensis. There are good orchids, including Cephalanthera longifolia.
We will visit a good site near Galatas where the rare endemic Biarum spruneri grows with gladiolus and masses of spring flowers.
Our final visit that day will be to the ancient site of Nemea which is one of the great sites, but is little visited and is full of orchids! This year, ten species were in flower for our visit, including local specialities such as Ophrys argolica and O. delphinensis.
Our last night will be spent in the Hotel Victoria in the Venetian port of Nafplio, one of our favourite Greek towns. Again, this is an AGS favourite. Weather permitting, we will dine al fresco in the narrow pedestrianised streets, surrounded by marble! Next morning we may visit a site for Campanula topaliana topaliana, before returning to Athens airport.
The price will include flights from London Heathrow to Athens, all accommodation, transport within Greece, breakfast in all hotels and the services of the AGS leader.
The price does not include items of a personal nature, such as drinks and laundry services, lunch and dinner, travel insurance, entrance fees to any museums or archeological sites visited and tips to the driver.
AGS Expeditions Limited will be the tour operator and its conditions of contract will apply. Appropriate insurance cover is held. If you use AGS Expeditions Limited for flight bookings, this tour will be covered by our Air Travel Organisers Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL9615. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking. For further information, visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk.
Early booking is advised to secure a place on this tour.
To book this tour please contact - AGS Centre, +44 (0)1386 554 790 or