Discover Spring in Western Crete
Escorted walks with Jonathan Peat
Crete has a fascinatingly rich and varied flora and the spectacular bloom of wild flowers in spring is a joy to behold. In the ever-changing landscape of the west, this carefully planned itinerary offers a chance to see the glorious show and take in some of the 250 endemic Greek species, around 160 of which are native only to Crete. The island’s isolation, favourable climate and wide variety of habitats (from coastal marsh to mountain range), combine to ensure an almost unparalleled richness of Mediterranean flora and the ruggedness of the mountain gorges has aided the survival of certain rare species, including more than 30 varieties of orchid. Thanks to the unrivalled local knowledge of experienced guide Jonathan Peat, the spring walks offer a unique opportunity to visit places often missed by less adventurous visitors. Discover remote and timeless monasteries, the evocative ruins of ancient Minoan palaces and the breath-taking geological features of the White Mountains and Crete’s wonderful gorges and plateaux. Informal stops at tiny whitewashed chapels or rustic kafenions give a taste of the slower pace of life in the rural community and the week’s walks will also uncover other aspects of island life including Cretan myths, edible and medicinal plants, cultivated and farmed crops, and the history of plant lore. Guests will walk for up to 3 hours a day, pausing regularly to look at the flowers and stopping to enjoy a picnic or a meal in a local taverna, carefully selected to enhance a week of exploration. Good walking shoes are essential.
7 Nights from £1,312pp
We’re here to help
• Stay in the beautiful Arosmari Village Hotel
• Incredible views
• Tranquil gardens
• Jonathan is a charismatic qualified European Mountain Leader with over 30 years experience
• Flights and car hire or transfers
• Accommodation and daily breakfast
• Five walks escorted by Jonathan Peat, with transfers and lunch included
• All taxes and entrance fees
Fly to Chania and transfer to Arosmari Village Hotel in Vamos. Meet Jonathan Peat and discuss the week’s program over drinks and dinner.
Drive to Megala Xorafia and up to the entrance of the ancient city of Aptera (25mins) for a circular walk around its perimeter. Enjoy stunning views, visit the archaeological site (guide not included) and discover the flora of the thick Jerusalem Sage forest. Drive to Stilos (15mins) for lunch, before a visit to the local springs and a walk to a hidden chapel set amongst the citrus groves. Return to Arosmari in the early afternoon.
Drive up to the Omalos plateau (1 hr) and stop for a quick coffee in the village of Lakki before continuing on the road to Omalos. Stop high up at the entrance to the famous Samaria gorge and gaze into the deep valley before walking down into the plateau and across the plain to the Koutroulis cheese factory. Learn about the cheese-making process and enjoy lunch in the family taverna before walking up to a small chapel on the northern side of the plateau. Return to Arosmari in the mid-afternoon.
Drive to Gouvernetto Monastery (1 hr) to begin a walk which explores the beautiful and wild area on the northern side of the Akrotiri peninsula where several monasteries, chapels and caves are set in a dramatic and mysterious landscape. Descend to the tomb of St. John the Hermit and on to the sea before returning along the gorge of Katholikou to Gouvernetto. Enjoy a picnic lunch in an olive grove and take stone paths and goat trails to discover the many interesting plants of the ‘Holy Mountain’ and the wonderful stories that surround them. Return to Arosmari in the mid-afternoon.
Put your feet up or plan your own itinerary and enjoy a day of gentle exploration.
Take a 45-minute drive into the Lefka Ori (White Mountains) for a circular walk that takes in some of the highest plains and pastureland. Enjoy a picnic lunch and learn about shepherding through the ages in the shadow of some of the most dramatic peaks, where vultures scavenge for tasty morsels and the sound of goat bells floats upon the breeze. Return to Arosmari in the late afternoon.
Drive westwards and up into the mountains behind Kastelli (1.5hrs). Begin your walk through chestnut and oak forests, intimate valleys with a varied and rich vegetation and stop to meet a local bee keeper. Enjoy a picnic lunch in a chestnut grove and marvel at the wild flowers, birds and Byzantine chapels tucked away in this little-known part of Crete.
Bid a fond farewell to Arosmari and transfer to Chania for your return flights to the UK.