“Photography, wildlife, gastronomy, culture and music”
October 17-24 2017
£930pp 7 nights guided tour in Western Crete
Price includes Pure Crete category B self catering accommodation in the village of Aptera, North Western Crete, flights, transfers and a full programme of 6 days excursions with expert guidance throughout and first evening meal. The tour is suitable for single travellers, couples and small groups. (single supplement may apply)
Autumn in Crete, where the warm weather is accompanied by a season of olive, grape and chestnut harvesting, the oil and wine presses are fired up and the raki production is in full swing. Village festivals celebrate the local harvests, with feasting, music and dancing. The flora of Crete in Autumn sees numerous beautiful wild flowers with annuals sprouting from seed and cyclamens, crocuses, scillas and many others, often in amazing abundance, bursting into flower. Wild trees and shrubs are also in fruit. There is a rebirth of many herbaceous plants and villagers eagerly gather ‘horta’ for use in cooking and salads
A Taste of Autumn in Crete will take you to coastal plains, magnificent gorges, the foothills of the white mountains and archaeological sites. As well as Autumn Flora and Fauna photographic opportunities, the week will include a wide selection of activities such as (subject to alteration) :-
A visit to an Olive Oil producer to watch the olive oil presses in action
Local wine tasting and a tour of an organic vineyard
Demonstration of traditional Raki distillation with tastings fresh from the still
Group meals at local restaurants to sample local home produced seasonal produce and Cretan delicacies (not everyday)
Local Gorge walk
A visit to the workshop of a local craftsman making Cretan handmade instruments (the lyra and laouto)
The Chestnut festival of Elos – party amongst chestnuts as the village celebrate the local chestnut harvest with eating, drinking, dancing, and roast chestnuts… of course. – (depending on date which is dependent on weather….only announced few days before)
The Autumn tour last year proved highly successful and was enjoyed by many:-
“The Excursions during the week with regard to plants and insects were excellent as could be expected with Stephen and Clive as leaders. Their competence and enthusiasm is astonishing…the wine tasting and as well as the Raki testing were fantastic experiences”
“A week full of interest and Surprises”
(Please see Full Itinerary below)
The full programme of 6 days guided tours exploring beautiful Western Crete is led by Dr Stephen Waters and Clive Daws, who have led our Spring Crete in Bloom week for many years….They write…:-
“The change in Crete from the hot, dry Mediterranean summer to the milder weather of autumn is marked by a pot-pourri of fascinating events, in village life and in the natural environment.
In this season of fruitfulness, olives are harvested and pressed for their oil; grapes are gathered to make the village wines. Waste is minimised; the olive husks and prunings from the trees fuel both baking ovens and the copper stills which many farmers use to produce raki, the fiery spirit of Crete. Raki is distilled from a fermented and herb-flavoured mix of the skins and seeds, which remain after pressing the juice from the grapes.
Wild trees and shrubs are also in fruit. The holly-like kermes oak bears acorns, which show its true relationship with the more familiar deciduous oaks, while the scarlet fruits of the strawberry tree provide a striking spectacle in the hills.
With the cooler, often moister, autumnal conditions, there is a rebirth of many herbaceous plants. A range of plants of different families produce fresh, soft shoots and leaves. Many of these are edible, and villagers eagerly gather them as ‘horta’ for use in cooking and salads.
Numerous beautiful and interesting wild flowers appear at this time of year. Some are on hardy, often evergreen, shrubs, some are annuals sprouting from seed, but there are also great numbers of plants that have remained invisible through the summer as underground bulbs or corms. They now burst into flower and reveal themselves as cyclamens, crocuses, scillas and many others, often in amazing abundance.”
During this week, the leaders will provide a balanced programme to include as many as possible of the events outlined above.
Since timings follow the seasons, which vary from year to year, rather than being bound to a fixed calendar, the localities we visit will be those most appropriate for the prevailing conditions.
The selection will include coastal habitats, grazed and wooded lowland areas, limestone gorges and at least the foothills of the mountain ranges, as well as archaeological sites, many of which also have considerable botanical interest.
A Taste of Crete Itinerary:-
Day 1:- Arrive into Chania, transfer to accommodation in Aptera Village and evening introduction talk and group meal at village taverna sampling Cretan local dishes
Day 2:- Morning Grocery shopping opportunity in Souda and afternoon at Ancient Aptera
Day 3:- Travel into the Omalos Plain with a visit en route to the Botanical Park of Crete
Day 4:- Morning Aghia Reservoir for bird watching opportunities followed by visit to Lemonia Folk Museum and taverna in Samonas (olive oil press, musical instrument, local home made delicacies and wine)
Day 5:- Morning Lake Kournas followed by Winery visit at Alikambos with wine tastings . Evening group meal at village taverna in Maza of locally grown appetizers with demonstration of traditional Raki distillation and Raki tastings
Day 6:- Morning – Ancient olive tree and museum, Ano Vouves. Cave church, Autumn Cyclamen display inland at Spilia and Topolia. Afternoon Chestnut festival of Elos with set lunch and wine including Chestnut dishes (subject to change due to seasonal conditions)
Day 7:- Morning Spili Town and Kourtaliotis Gorge. Afternoon Plakias beach and the Kotsifos Gorge
Day 8:- Transfer to Chania airport with visit to Souda War Cemetery en route if time allows.
(Group meal on first evening and all entrances included in price. Other meals, snacks and drinks payable locally. Please note Itinerary is subject to change)