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Spring Flowers of Crete Escorted Tour

All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.

  • An opportunity to discover some of Crete's 1700 species of wild flowers including some of its 60 species of wonderful orchids

  • You will spend most of your time in the great outdoors enjoying both the fresh air, the wonderful vistas and the magnificent scenery

  • Crete is considered the birth place of the European civilization so there will be an opportunity to uncover a little of its vast history too

  • Enjoy the April sunshine - the days are usually mild and sunny with a wonderful contrast of snow-topped mountains at this time of year

Crete in spring is a feast for the senses, an exhilarating time of new life and re-birth, marked in mythology by Persephone's return from the underworld. Colour and scent abound and none more so than amidst the stunning natural landscape of this wonderful island.

Our tour offers the flower enthusiast the opportunity to see something of the remarkable 1700 wild plants found on this island, (much larger than Britain which has around 1500). Even more exciting is that one tenth of these are found no-where else in the world! Among the many bulbs, herbs, shrubs and trees we expect to see during our tour are asphodel, anemones, cyclamen, tulips, poppies, mullein, chrysanthemum, sage, Cretan ebony and the slightly disturbing and profoundly smelly Dragon Arum. One of the highlights of this unique flora is the 60 or so different orchid species found on the island, the majority of which flower at this time of year. 

This wonderful variety of flora is not spread evenly over the island so our itinerary has been planned to ensure we encounter a range of habitats that contribute to the spectacular natural beauty of the island; coastal sites, agricultural plains, rolling hills and mountain passes as well as the occasional archaeological sites and the famous gorges – a Cretan speciality - where a specialised flora clothe the walls. 

Other aspects of what has been described as a ‘continent in miniature’ can also be experienced during our tour; ancient Byzantine churches, traditional village life, relics from the island's long and troubled history and an abundant wildlife, all contribute to give you a special insight into this unique island.

 

Your Guide - Graham Kendall
Having studied at the Savill Gardens, Windsor and the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Graham Kendall went on to be Head Gardener at three National Trust Properties before starting his own consultancy. In the 1970’s he spent a year studying in Greece at a pioneering garden which combined native plants with plants from other Mediterranean-type climates. This kindled Graham’s love of Greece’s rich native flora. Numerous subsequent visits have only increased his fascination and knowledge.

ITINERARY


Day 1: Fly from London Gatwick to Heraklion. On arrival in Heraklion, transfer by coach to Rethymnon (approx. 1 hour) and the Bio Suites Hotel. A welcome dinner at a local taverna is included this evening.

Day 2: Full day botanising at the historic site of Aptera and a coastal site. The tour begins with a visit to the archaeological site of Aptera, one of the most extensive archaeological sites in western Crete. Founded in the Geometric period the city reached its commercial peak as a Hellenistic settlement and later developed as a rural town under the Romans. It has a lovely scenic position and is usually alive with the vivid colours of spring. You will be able to botanise as well as gain some insight into Crete’s extensive history. 

Day 3: Botanising at the Minoan cemetery of Armeni and above the village of Aktounta. Excavation of the Minoan cemetery of Armeni has uncovered more than 200 graves and a wealth of Minoan artefacts, but it is also the main site on the island of the Vallonia oak with its striking acorns. We will botanise here and then head to the pretty hill village of Spili for coffee before going on to our botanising site at Aktounta, an area that is exceptional for orchids, particularly rainbow, provence, butterfly and monkey varieties.

Day 4: Full day botanising on the high plateau of Omalos. Following the north coast in a westerly direction we will join a winding road that takes us high into the hills and our destination, the plateau of Omalos which, at an altitude of over 1000 metres, is surrounded by the high mountain tops of Lefka Ori, which are often topped with snow at this time of year. Whilst taking in the wonderfully fresh mountain air and the beautiful views we will hope to find an abundance of tulips, scattered with anemones and widow iris.

Day 5: A day to relax and explore Rethymnon at your leisure. A fascinating and attractive town, Rethymnon has a colourful history and owes its character to periods of rule under the Venetians and Turks. Magnificent old buildings line the narrow streets that are perfect for strolling at leisure and where every corner turned displays an element of the towns long history.  Equally overflowing are the many enticing cafes and tavernas where you might like to enjoy a lazy lunch in between your exploring.

Day 6: Today we explore gorge flora visiting the Kotsifou and Kourtalioti Gorges, situated near the south coast resort of Plakias. We will look for some of the typical flora found in Crete’s many gorges, and also botanise a little by the coast before having a leisurely break for lunch by the sea.

Day 7: The Gious Kambos Plateau. Our main botanising today will be at the Gious Kambos plateau, which is home to a great variety of flora, particuarly orchids, as well as a rare tulip; we also hope to discover anemones, Turban buttercup, iris and, if we are lucky, fritillary. When our botanising is complete we continue on to the Amari hill village of Thronos where our tour comes to an end. The Amari Valley is one of the most untouched and fertile regions of Crete, fed year round by mountain springs, which keeps it beautifully lush even in the height of summer. Our farewell lunch (included) will be at a lovely village taverna with true village hospitality and delicious Cretan cooking.

Day 8: Transfer to Heraklion airport for the return flight to London Gatwick.

NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.

Please note: the itinerary will include gentle walking of up to 2-3 hours each day in sometimes 'wild' countryside in order to fully experience a representative range of spring plants, so reasonable fitness and decent footwear with sturdy soles is essential. Please note nothing too strenuous will be undertaken.

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 20 passengers.

INCLUDED

  • Return flights from London Gatwick to Heraklion (some regional flights may be available)
  • Return transfers from airport to hotel
  • Seven nights bed and breakfast at the four-star Bio Suites Hotel in Rethymnon
  • Welcome dinner and farewell lunch
  • Full touring itinerary as detailed
  • Tour Manager and local guide throughout

NOT INCLUDED

  • Single room supplement
  • Sea view supplement
  • Regional flight supplement (subject to availability)
  • Holiday insurance
  • Meals other than those stated
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls
  • Porterage and gratuities

HOTELS

Rethymnon
The base for our tour is the atmospheric and historical Venetian harbour town of Rethymnon. This fantastic town has a colourful and historical past that is evident in the legacy of marvellous old buildings that line its narrow, pedestrianised streets. Perfect for strolling, sights here include the imposing battlements of the 16th century Venetian fortress, a picturesque harbour with a 13th century lighthouse and a delightful 'old town' full of cafes, tavernas and small shops selling local crafts, souvenirs and food. Easily accessed on foot from your hotel, the quaintness of this atmospheric old town will be sure to entice you again and again during your stay.

Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon
The four-star Bio Suites Hotel offers a high standard of accommodation a ten-minute walk from Rethymnon’s old town. Hotel facilities include a bar, restaurant, terrace and swimming pool. The comfortable air-conditioned rooms include a kitchenette, balcony, shower, TV and wi-fi.

Bio Suites Hotel

We love to receive feedback from our customers. Their views help us to keep improving the ours we offer. If you have been on this tour and would like to submit a review, please log in to our client area here and fill in the short form.

Recent Reviews

 

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Excellent expert and local guide. Thoroughly enjoyed the trip, taken to places that the ordinary tourist would never have found. Fascinating flowers and excellent information from our expert.

Review by Carr who travelled 08-April-2018


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Thank you for yet another wonderful botanical excursion to Greece; this was my fourth with Travel Editions, all led by Graham Kendall. It was the first time I had met Philippa Dean as the TE Agent and she was fine - very different from Jane but good local knowledge and facilitator. Graham and I have become good friends and interact very well in the field, he as the Leader and local expert and me as a professional plant ecologist, chipping in where relevant and where I can!. I feel I have become something of a 'co-pilot'! I hope I can do this again. The group (17) proved interested and interesting and all got on so well socially. It was a pleasure getting to know everyone. I suggested a visit to Phaestos, Matala (lunch) and Spili (on return) as an idea on the 'free day' and everyone took up the option so we arranged with Niko the driver (paying 15 euros/person) . I was 'Leader' for this! It was a great success and I suggest that this could even be incoporated into future visits. Two minor issues from the matrix above. Firstly, the EasyJet flight for some of us was not that comfortable and maybe a scheduled flight would be preferable. Secondly, there were some complaints about the bath/showering facilities in the rooms at the Ideon Hotel. Some people found it too small and cramped. However, the hotel staff and general facilities, breakfasts etc at the hotel were all excellent.

Review by Baker who travelled 08-April-2018


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A helpful and knowledgeable guide, friendly and very competent tour manager.

Review by who travelled 08-April-2018


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I loved every moment of this holiday. Graham's knowledge was amazing and I really appreciated the small group of ten as we could all hear what Graham and Trisha were saying and see the flowers at the same time.

Review by Miss Wendy Twitchett who travelled 11-April-2017


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We loved our guide (Graham), who was extremely knowledgeable but modest, amiable and a good communicator. Hotel showers very poor and we had to change or room (for which we had paid extra for sea-view) because of noise at night. However, staff very helpful and breakfasts excellent. I would be happy to write a review of this holiday.

Review by Mr Geoffrey Ramshaw who travelled 11-April-2017


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Very, very enjoyable. Graham and Trish were extremely knowledgeable, friendly and well organised. The trips were nicely varied, and the flowers absolutely stunning. Our first holiday with you, but not the last, I'm sure.

Review by Mr P Knight who travelled 11-April-2017


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Super week.

Review by Mr Arthur Forman who travelled 11-April-2017


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Brilliant botanist, Graham, who could enthuse not only experts but also novices to wild flower understanding assisted by local English lady, Trish. More than just a flower experience; the local historical and cultural information and visits were also very enjoyable.

Review by Mr Robin Dixon who travelled 11-April-2017


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I tried to send this yesterday, but it said there was a fault, so I'll try again, though you may have this already. This was our 5th Wild flower trip to Greece with Travel editions. (I got that wrong yesterday) Graham and Jane are fantastic leaders and Nikos an excellent driver. It is more comfortable to have a coach rather than a minibus. Bianca looked after us very well when we arrived in Heraklion.

Review by Mrs Kathleen Hall who travelled 04-April-2017


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Most enjoyable tour. Lucky with the weather, but in any case the two main guides - Jane and Graham - were both excellent.

Review by Mr Martin Stockley who travelled 04-April-2017


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A most enjoyable tour with many different elements . Botany, Archaeology, Churches , Cretan cooking and customs , the terrain and Geology . I am much more rounded as a result and have not felt fitter !

Review by Mr James Awford who travelled 04-April-2017


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A return visit to Crete was even better than the first. Flowers were amazing. Graham his usual wonderful knowledgeable self and Jane looked after us very well indeed. Lots of flowers, lots of food and drink and very importantly lots of laugh.

Review by Mrs Lyndall Bishop who travelled 04-April-2017


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Graham Kendall, our botanist guide, coped expertly with the demands made by unexpected climate trends. He was always friendly and ready to offer an explanation. The depth of his botanical knowledge was highly impressive.

Review by Mrs K Kolesnic who travelled 26-April-2016


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Review by who travelled 26-April-2016


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Excellent hotel and guide! It would be helpful to know in future if walking shoes rather than boots are adequate, as saves packing heavy boots for the trip. Also in future maybe better to stick to early april as due too warm dry winter some flowers had already gone over. In general very good holiday and would go on a similar holiday again!

Review by Ms Margaret Mound who travelled 26-April-2016


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List of names of those in the group would be an aide memoire to remembering who's who!! Enjoyed the trip very much...helped by perfect weather and an excellent botanist/gardener.

Review by Mrs Margaret Emeleus who travelled 12-April-2016


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A wonderful trip organised by a thoroughly professional company. The booking and organising was customer friendly and efficient with help and advice given at every stage the tour itself was well organised and lived up to our expectations. we shall be using Travel Editions again!

Review by Mr Mik Wisniewski who travelled 12-April-2016


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We ewnjoyed the tour and may come again next year. My wife did find the bed in Hotel Ideon rather hard and there were a couple of minor errors on the documentation (asked to go to Heathrow airport when it was Gatwick, and it read as though we would have to make our own way to Rethimnon. Otherwise very good. Please send any info you have on flower tours for 2017 - I believe Graham is running one in N Greece in June 2017 Thanks David Eaves

Review by Mr David Eaves who travelled 12-April-2016


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Review by Miss C Ballantyne who travelled 12-April-2016


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The tour guide, Graham knew every wild flower in English and Latin and the Greek myths associated. His enthusiasm for his subject bonded the group together resulting in a splendid holiday.

Review by Mrs Jennifer Pratt who travelled 12-April-2016


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We flew from Glasgow to Gatwick and had an overnight stay at the Gatwick airport before leaving to Crete the next day. On return we did the same but the other way arpund..In the future we prefer a direct flight. Graham Kendall ,the botanist,did a great job during our trip..

Review by Mr Hendrik Pellenkoft who travelled 12-April-2016


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Walking graded4 I would think 2 or less

Review by Mr Peter Nicholson-lailey who travelled 12-April-2016


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Sorry it's late! As always Jane was excellent. We were sorry to learn of Niko's accident but George was a very good replacement. Graham was easy to get on with and very knowledgeable. We did find the "botanising" a bit intense at times but were happy to dip in and out of it. We would have preferred that the trips finished a little earlier in the day. Hotel Ideon was very well placed and offered helpful, friendly service - only two criticisms namely the plumbing was erratic and there was never enough hot water. Our faith in Easyjet has been restored; we upgraded online and enjoyed two excellent flights. As frequent travellers to Crete with Travel Editions we do hope you can come up with some new itineraries in the near future. All the best, Dave and Linda Cowley.

Review by Mr David Cowley who travelled 21-April-2015


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Review by Mr Jonathan Cairns who travelled 05-May-2015


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The tour manager, Jane Freeman, and Graham Kendall, the botanist, were excellent: extremely competent, good humoured and well organised. Could you please pass a message to Jane, to forward the list of email addresses she collated on our last day. Many thanks, Barbara Levene

Review by Ms Barbara Levene who travelled 05-May-2015


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Thoroughly enjoyable - an excellent specialist leader in Graham and very efficient and pleasant tour manager (Jane). The only thing I would have changed was the content of some trips. I would have liked less time on the coach and more time walking in the countryside.

Review by Ms Eugenie Turton who travelled 05-May-2015


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I rang before booking to check this was the right trip for us. I was assured a general interest in plants would be appropriate for enjoying the trip. While overall we liked the holiday, it wasn't as advertised and advised as it was a more specialist holiday that I was told it would be. I think the marketing needs to be reviewed.

Review by Mrs Anne Davies who travelled 05-May-2015


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Graham, the gardener/botanist guide was really wonderful - so knowledgeable and patient. Jane, too, the tour manager was very good. Re the visits to flower sights, I think some people would have like more walking in the landscape, but due to different levels of fitness, it was probably about right.

Review by Prof Anne Feaver who travelled 05-May-2015


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I thorouglhy enjoyed this tour and would highly recommend it to others. The leader, Graham Kendall, was excellent and it was so good to have Jane Freeman with us as an extra support. The group size (18) worked well and the sites selected for visit ideal given the late spring this year.

Review by Prof Alan John Martin Baker who travelled 05-May-2015


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This was our third "Spring Flowers of Crete" tour and we never tire of this wonderful week. Jane Freeman, Graham Kendall are so professional and caring. Our driver Nikos was injured this year so could not drive us but still turned up at the airport to greet us - we love the Cretans. Looking forward to 2016!

Review by Mr William Goldsmith who travelled 21-April-2015


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Jane Freeman is the best Tour Manager I have ever come across by a very wide margin - you should bottle her and sell her to other companies! She clearly knows Crete very well and has excellent relationships with the local people involved in the tour. She very quickly picks up on special needs or interests, has a delightful manner and sense of humour and she contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the holiday.

Review by Mrs Susan Rayner who travelled 21-April-2015


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Our first experience of Travel editions has been very good we will use the company again

Review by Mrs Martyn Cook who travelled 21-April-2015


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Hotel was actually very good apart from the plumbing. Our shower was cold and a trickle over a tiny bath. And in this day and age WiFi should be free in every room. Jane Freeman is an extremely good tour leader, competent and great fun and Graham Kendall was friendly and knowledgeable. We really enjoyed the holiday.

Review by Mr Ian Lund who travelled 21-April-2015


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Flight itself was fine but Easy Jet's Bag Drop arrangements at Gatwick were chaotic and should be addressed. However, our holiday was excellent, in particular the helpfulness and attention shown by both Jane Freeman And Graham Kendall. So much so that not only are we planning to book next year but we are also strongly recommending your company and this holiday to our friends. (Are you able to feed back your customers' poor experience with Easy Jet to the company?)

Review by Mrs Carole Webb who travelled 15-April-2014

Travel Editions feedback:

Thank you for your survey and we were pleased you enjoyed the tour. Bag drop can be chaotic , dependent on a number of flights overlapping and almost defeats the idea of online checkin but unfortunately we are slightly powerless to affect easyjet policy.


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Our first booking with Travel Editions & it was well organised & very enjoyable. Jane & Graham were both very good & knowledgeable tour leaders. Easyjet from Gatwick required an overnight stay & check-in was pretty chaotic at 5.30am, but flight back from Heraklion supervised by Graham went smoothly .

Review by Mrs Judith Morgan who travelled 15-April-2014


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WE really loved this trip. Graham was excellent, knowledgeable and very approachable. He and Jane took a lot of care over the order of our expeditions because of the weather conditions and were always very concerned to make out visit as good as possible. Jane was wonderful, as always. She anticipated our needs, booking a table for us for Easter Sunday lunch as she knew we would not find it easy on that day to find somewhere. Both Jane and Graham made sure we knew all about the arrangements for Greek Easter. The baggage drop on the way out -courtesy of Easyjet(!) was chaotic. having booked in online, printed out boarding passes, paid for our seats, it ought to have been straightforward at the airport, but there were far too few staff at the baggage drop desks and enormous queues. That, of course, has nothing to do with Travel Editions but might make you think twice about using Easyjet!

Review by Mrs Norma Cook who travelled 15-April-2014

Travel Editions feedback:

Thank you for your comments and sometimes it does make us think about Easyjet but on teh whole they do offer a good service and are also the only carrier to many of teh destinations we setup tours to.


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Very important that the coach had more seas than passengers and the microphone system worked very well.

Review by Mr Christopher Burns-Cox who travelled 15-April-2014


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First rate leadership of the group by Jane in such a pleasant and helpful manner and excellent input by Graham into the week of botanising, geology and culture. Hotel Ideon really well placed in the Old Town - we need more substantial pillows than those provided. Thank you for another marvellous experience of Crete

Review by Ms Helen Parrott who travelled 08-April-2014


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A thoroughly enjoyable trip which gave access to new and long-lasting experiences for all the senses.

Review by Mr Ronald Smith who travelled 08-April-2014


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