May 6th – 14th, 2020
MAINLAND GREECE: Mount Olympus, the Pindos Mountains and the Vikos Gorge
Price: £ 1695 inc flights, £1325 ex flights
Leaders: Bob Gibbons, Dominic Couzens and Andy Byfield
An exciting 9-day tour set amidst the wild and spectacular mountains of north Greece. During the tour, we will visit some of the finest mountains and gorges in mainland Greece, with superb flowers, birds and butterflies in stunning scenery
We leave Gatwick in the morning, arriving in Thessaloniki by lunchtime, from where we drive to Litochori, our base for the first two nights, nestled below the great bulk of Mount Olympus. Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, with an extraordinarily rich flora. At this time of year, it’s not possible to climb high on the mountain, but we’ll concentrate instead on seeing some of the wonderful flowers of the easily-accessible lower slopes, including some of the special endemics such as the gorgeous Jankaea heldreichii.
On the third day, we travel westwards, with various stops en route, to the mountain village of Metsovo, perfectly placed for exploring the Pindos National Park area. We are within easy reach of the meadows and forests of this unspoilt area, where we should see two species of Fritillary (flowers), Wild Tulips, the rare Daphne blagayana, some unusual orchids, birds such as Rock Thrush and a number of different woodpeckers, and maybe even Brown Bear which are quite common here.
After two nights in Metsovo, we move on to our hotel in the beautiful mountain village of Mikro Papingo, squeezed between high peaks and the spectacular Vikos gorge in the lovely Zagoria area. During the next few days, we will explore the gorges, peaks and grasslands of this magnificent area. The Vikos gorge lies close by, and we can walk into it both from the Papingo end and the Monodendri end, where there is a fine cliff-top monastery. There is a rich flora with many endemics or rarities, such as Ramonda serbica, several species of saxifrages, abundant orchids including, paeonies, fritillaries and many others. The extensive woods and cliffs are home to a fine range of birds including choughs, and a variety of falcons and eagles. After three nights here, we head back to Thessaloniki airport for our flight home.
At this time of the year, the flora of these mid-altitude areas is at its best, butterflies are becoming more abundant, whilst the breeding birds are at their peak. The whole area has a rich and varied flora and fauna, with a fascinating blend of Balkan, Alpine and Mediterranean species, many of which are found nowhere else.
The tour price includes return flights from Gatwick to Thessaloniki, all transport during the week, accommodation in good hotels with en-suite facilities, plus all breakfasts and evening meals; services of leaders throughout, including pre-tour information and post-tour lists. We will usually buy picnics locally at about £4 per day. ▲ tour grade, but mostly easy. Tour code: NHT/20/03. Tour price:£ 1695 inc flights. Single room supplement: £ 195. Deposit: £ 400.