Visiting Crete is a sensory adventure filled with the scents of rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, and chamomile. An island brimming with beautiful flowers and stunning landscapes, there are around 2,000 species of plants, of which about 10% are endemic to Crete. The peak explosion of wildflowers is from March to May, when wild orchids and tulips are joined by chamomile, poppies, anemones, iris, field gladiolus and much more in bloom.
Crete's natural beauty is equalled only by the richness of its history. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil, the Minoans, who ruled some 4,000 years ago. At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has been coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders. Evidence of this long history can be seen in Chania, where labyrinthine lanes are lorded over by mighty fortresses, and where gorgeously restored Renaissance mansions rub rafters with mosques and Turkish bathhouses.
Gourmands also need look no further, on an island where 'locavore' is not a trend but a way of life. Rural tavernas often produce their own meat, cheese, olive oil, raki and wine, and catch their own seafood.
The tour is led by two British residents of Crete, who are also experienced tour leaders of walking and botanical tours on the island. This tour takes you across this wonderful island and looks at history, both ancient and contemporary. Explore Crete's rich botany, beautiful landscapes and delicious food and wine, and learn how all of these intertwine.
Valerie and Clive have spent their working lives in education, at all levels, with adults and children across the age range. They have lived and worked abroad and have travelled extensively. Since retiring, they have lived in Crete, building a house and garden on a wild and windy hillside.
In her capacity as the Branch Head of the Mediterranean Garden Society on Crete, Valerie organises a variety of events on the island and hosts visitors to her garden from as far afield as Australia and California. Clive, as a tour leader, has led groups of walkers on Crete, mainland Greece and other islands.
Both have joined tours run by Jon Baines Tours and enjoyed the cultural, historical and local emphasis that is at the heart of the philosophy of the company, along with the camaraderie of fellow tour members. The tour on Crete will emulate this, including the delights of Cretan cuisine.
*As a general note, there can be no guarantee about precise flowering times. All itineraries are subject to change according to local conditions.
Tour cost is USD $2,226 per person sharing. Tour cost with a room to yourself is USD $2,520.