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How to Book

Sunvil, Our Booking Agent

April 6th - 13th 2014

Chios, Greece

Price: £1495 inc. flights, £1125 ex flights

Leader: Bob Gibbons

A 7-night/8-day tour on Chios (or Hios), one of the most unspoilt of all the greek islands, with masses of early flowers, exceptional orchids and wild tulips, and wild undeveloped coastal and mountain scenery.

Wild Tulips, Tulipa praecox in ploughed field among olive groves, Chios, Greece.
Chios is the fifth largest yet least spoilt of the larger greek islands. It lies in the eastern Aegean sea, just a few miles from Turkey, and its natural history owes a good deal to the closeness of the asian land-mass. It is a rugged mountainous island, with peaks in the north rising to almost 1300 metres, and impressive limestone scenery.
We fly from Heathrow to Athens, then onwards to Chios. Here, we are based for the whole period in a small welcoming hotel, set amongst orange and tangerine groves, in a village just south-west of the main town, from where we can make daily forays all over the island.

Despite its lovely scenery, fine climate and beautiful beaches, Chios has escaped the mass tourism that has affected so many other greek islands; it remains extraordinarily undeveloped, with long stretches of wild coast, large areas of wild habitats, and beautiful unspoilt or restored historic villages. The ancient mastic villages, the Masticochori, are particularly fine, and we’ll spend some time exploring them, not least because of the orchid-rich countryside around them.

An uncommon fritillary, Fritillaria carica in high woods on Chios, Greece.:  photo © Bob Gibbons
An uncommon fritillary, Fritillaria carica in high woods on Chios, Greece.
The flora of Chios is rich and varied. It’s probably best known for its orchids, which occur in great abundance and diversity. There are currently over 70 species of orchids known from Chios – though this number changes regularly thanks to changing ideas and new discoveries – and we should be able to see a reasonable proportion of these, including a variety of rarities and endemics, such as Orchis punctulata and the bizarre Earwig Orchid, Ophrys regis-ferdinandii. One of the most striking features of Chios is the abundance of wild tulips; there are four species recorded, and two of these occur in great abundance in one part of the island. In addition, there are anemones, bellflowers, two rare fritillaries and a wealth of other species characteristic of the eastern Aegean area.

The bird-life is not quite as rich and varied as that of neighbouring Lesbos, due partly to the lack of extensive wetlands on Chios, but many of the same breeding birds occur, including Woodchat and Masked Shrikes, Cinereous and Cretzchmars Buntings, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagles and Rufous Bush-chat. By April, many of these breeding birds should be present, and there may also be large numbers of migrants on their way north.

Beautiful flowery almond orchard in spring, with mayweed and Henbit Deadnettle. Chios, Greece.: photo © Bob Gibbons
Beautiful flowery almond orchard in spring, with mayweed and Henbit Deadnettle. Chios, Greece.
During our time on the island, we’ll visit a range of habitats, mainly in the south and centre of the island, to see as great a variety of flowers and other wildlife as possible. We’ll also visit Nea Moni, a lovely ancient 11th century Byzantine monastery set high in a remote mountain valley, now a World Heritage Site, and some of the historic and unique Mastic villages.

On day 8, we return to Heathrow via Athens.

We may also be joined during the trip by local experts.

The tour price includes return flights from Heathrow to Chios, transport throughout, accommodation with private facilities on a half-board basis, services of leaders throughout, plus pre-tour information and post-tour species lists. Picnics should cost no more than £3-4 per day.

Tour code: NHT/14/02

Price: £1495

Single room supplement: £120

Deposit: £400 plus insurance

Bookings to Sunvil

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