Lesvos – spring on an Aegean island

Carpets of flowers, olive groves and birding on the beautiful island of Lesvos in the Aegean Sea.

In early May, the tourist season is only just beginning and there is a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere at a time when the flowers and birds are at their best. The countryside is covered in a colourful display of shrubs, perennials and annuals and the birdsong adds a delightful background to quiet walks through olive groves, meadows and woods or along the coast. Our search for the island’s wildlife will take us to some interesting landscapes and historical sites and we will also have an opportunity to sample local tavernas for lunch.

From the pleasant fishing harbour of Skala Kalloni we will explore the lovely island of Lesvos, one of the largest in the Aegean.

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The island is justifiably famous for its birdlife and we have timed this holiday to catch the best of the northwards spring migration and the arrival of many birds that will breed on the island as well as the wonderful carpets of spring flowers.

During the week we will be visiting many parts of the island – visiting the rolling hills, pastures and rocky landscapes of the west and the sweet chestnut and pine woods of the southern mountains. We will explore the rivers, lagoons and reedbeds around Skala Kalloni, and the coastal ‘shrublands’ full of orchids and birdsong.

Excursions will take us to a peaceful monastery set in a beautiful valley and to a partly deserted village with wonderful views of the coast.  Our holiday is ideal for those who wish to explore the island for its natural history and enjoy relaxing walks through the pleasant countryside. We should enjoy pleasant temperatures and quiet walks before the majority of tourists arrive. The trip is an ideal introduction to the flowers and birds of the eastern Mediterranean as well as a chance to see some of the more localised species.

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Wildlife Travel Lesvos 2017

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

Dates

5 – 12 May 2018

Leaders

Laurie Jackson and Philip Precey 

Price

£1,545
Single Room Supplement – £100

Included

Return flights – UK to Lesvos. Local transport as specified in itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation, breakfast, evening meals, five picnic lunches.

Not included

Two lunches. Drinks and refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Lesvos is still an undiscovered island for many, despite being the third largest in Greece and close to the Turkish mainland. It is relatively undeveloped and retains its rural culture, interspersed with a few attractive towns and villages

Day 1 – Fly to Mytilini and transfer to Skala Kalloni (c 1.5 hours).

Day 2 – We spend the day exploring the marshes and river to the east of Skala Kalloni, where various waders may be found feeding out on the mud.

Day 3 – We drive north to coastal headlands to look for Rüppell’s and subalpine warblers before continuing on to the attractive fishing harbour of Molyvos for a taverna lunch before some free time to explore the cobbled lanes of this picturesque town.

Day 4 –  An excursion to the south of the island near Agiassos on the slopes of Mount Olympus to explore the olive terraces, chestnut woods and limestone hillsides looking for flowers including several species of orchids and the endemic Hairy Birthwort, before stopping at Achladeri woods to look for Krüper’s nuthatch.

Day 5 – We drive to the Kalloni salt pans to explore the channels, marshes and beach frequented by large number of waders, wildfowl, gulls and turns .After a taverna lunch on the coast in Skala Kalloni, we will head inland to the olive groves of the Napi Valley to look for two local specialities – Masked Shrike and Sombre Tit.

Day 6 – An excursion to the west of the island to look for wildlife of the dryer habitats, including the area of the petrified forest and the hills around Ipsilou Monastery.

Day 7 – We visit the hillside village of Petri for a walk on the terraces, which are good for butterflies and a wide variety of wild flowers as well as birds. After lunch, we will visit the monastery at Limonos, where numerous small chapels are found in a beautiful, tranquil valley.

Day 8 – After breakfast it is time to take our return journey to the airport.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities or at the discretion of the leaders

Our home for the week is the Malemi Hotel – a family run hotel, it has been catering for wildlife groups for many years after being the first to highlight the wonderful birdlife to be found locally. The hotel is surrounded by gardens and is only a few minutes walk from the wetlands of Skala Kalloni (handy for those pre-breakfast bird walks) and a quiet beach at the head of the Gulf of Kalloni. All rooms are en-suite.

Evening meals will be at the hotel and we will have picnic lunches on most days. On others, lunch can be taken at local tavernas (not included).

We will travel by small coach or minibus.

The group flights are with Thomas Cook Airlines from London Gatwick.

5 May depart London Gatwick 06.40, arrive Mytilini 12.35
12 May depart Mytilini 13.35, arrive London Gatwick 15.25

Lesvos is two hours ahead of the UK.

Direct flights from Manchester (early departure) with Thomas Cook Airlines may also be possible or flights from London Heathrow via Athens with Aegean Airlines – contact us. It is possible to extend your holiday if you wish.

At this time of year the weather is usually sunny but not too hot. There may be some cooler weather and some rain.

On the first day we will be walking for much of the day, but on relatively flat ground. On other days, most walks are much shorter and none of the walking is strenuous. On some mornings we will start early but the pace will generally be relaxed with time to enjoy the surroundings and take photos as well as look at the birds. All excursions are optional.