All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.
Epirus, a fabulous unspoilt and little-known region of natural beauty
Wonderful spring colours, flora and fauna
Views, views and more sensational views
Two nights in Corfu including a guided tour of the atmospheric old town
The little known region of Epirus is home to both the traditional Zagoria Villages and the Pindos National Park, where more than 1800 plant species flourish, many endemic, in a vast temperate ecosystem. Discover the regions extraordinary natural beauty, romantic old world charms and stunning nature. There is also an opportunity to explore the wonderful historic town of Corfu as the tour includes two nights here at the beginning of the tour.
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. A year studying in Greece, at what is now the 'Greek home' to the Mediterranean Garden Society, kindled Graham's love for its native flora. Numerous subsequent visits to many different areas of Greece have widened his fascination and knowledge.
This region is spectacular and unlike any other part of Greece that we have encountered! It is located, as the crow flies, almost directly opposite the Ionian island of Corfu. Visiting the area for the first time in June 2013 we were delighted to find a remarkably timeless and traditional region with a wonderfully vibrant and impressive nature!
The main focus of our tour is the region of the Zagoria Villages, which consists of 46 traditional villages, some of which have been declared national historical monuments. The National Park is not just a nature reserve but a cultural monument to the mountain villages and their traditional lifestyle. It is an area with an extraordinary natural beauty, a vast temperate ecosystem, a distinctive architecture and an ancient way of life that will captivate the imagination of any visitor.
Spring comes much later to Epirus than the southern regions of Greece due to its altitude, which makes the best time to visit this region is May and June.
Day 1: Fly from London Heathrow to Corfu (regional flights may be available, please enquire). On arrival in Corfu transfer to the Hotel Arion, situated close to the sea and just 1 km from Corfu ‘old town’. Overnight at the Arion Hotel, Corfu. Welcome dinner (included).
Day 2: Guided tour of Corfu town. Today is an opportunity to explore the islands wonderful and historic capital, Corfu town, an attractive maze of narrow streets dominated by a 16th century fortress. A guided tour will take place in the morning and the rest of the day will be at leisure. A great description, which sums up the joy of the town: 'Corfu town is Venice and Naples, a touch of France and more than a dash of England, apart of course from being Greek'. Evening at leisure. Overnight at the Arion Hotel, Corfu
Day 3: Transfer to Monodendri. We leave our hotel in the morning and transfer to the port (a 10 minute drive) to catch the ferry to Igoumenitsa, on the mainland, and then drive to the village of Monodendri where our hotel is situated (transfer is approx. 3 hours, this includes the ferry crossing, which is approx. 90 mins). After settling in to our hotel and having a break for lunch, we will explore Monodendri following a stone track, enjoy some roadside botanising as we go, to the monastery of Agia Paraskevi, one of the oldest monasteries in Epirus, which teeters precariously on the edge of the Vikos Gorge providing us with our first spectacular views of this magnificent natural monument.
Day 4: The nature of Zagoria. We start our botanising in Epirus around the central Zagoria villages of Asprageli, Elati and Dikorfo. Mostly we will roadside botanise today as the road we will take is barely used and is usually rich in colour and species. We will enjoy some lovely views as we go enjoying the peace and tranquility of the area. We will find time to enjoy lunch in one of the central villages, Dilofo, a beautifully preserved village that includes a wonderful taverna, with great food and great views.
Day 5: Rivers & Mountains. Today we head to the northern villages of Zagoria, following a pretty and colourful route lined with flowering sage bushes. We visit the small village of Vikos with, of course, some wonderful views into the gorge. We then continue on to the attractive village of Aristi, which, once again, boasts excellent examples of local architecture. We will stop just below the village and take a short walk by a small river to see what floral delights we can discover and also follow a short track towards the 16th century monastery of Panagia Spiliotissa. We then head up a very 'interesting' road to the village of Megala (big) Papingo, which faces the magnificent 'Astraka towers'; stone cliffs that tower high above the Vikos Gorge where we will stop for lunch before visiting the Rogovo 'stone pools', unusual and attractive natural pools formed by water erosion.
Day 6: Bridges and villages. Today’s tour provides a real insight into the Zagoria region and some of its traditional architecture. The villages of Zagori were interconnected by mountain roads and traditional arched stone bridges until modern roads were opened in the 1950's. Bridges were essential for keeping trade routes open and Zagoria is uniquely blessed with these graceful stone structures. We take the opportunity to include two of these lovely old bridges during our botanising today and walk between the three-arched Kalogerico Bridge and the two-arched Milos Bridge discovering the flora en-route. We also include a visit today to the botanical museum of Kostas Lazaridis in Koukouli, a personal museum set up by Lazaridis and which boasts over 1000 plant species, (as well as personal memorabilia), most of which can be found in the Vikos Gorge.
Day 7: Metsovo. Built in a wonderful setting on the slopes of the Pindos Mountains this authentic ‘Vlach’ village, a land of farmers and shepherds, retains a colourfully picturesque and traditional character. We will botanise on hills around the village and then have some free time in Metsovo for lunch and a little exploring of this atmospheric place.
Day 8: The ‘Beloi Balcony’ and Tsepelovo. An easy one hour walk, during which we have the opportunity to enjoy the Vikos-Aoös National Parks rich flora. Our path begins above the 'Vradeto steps', a magnificent 300 year old mule track carved into a rock face, which, until fairly recently, was the only way to reach the village of Vradeto. We can admire the steps from a distance as we approach Vradeto and then enjoy an easy path botanising all the way to the 'Beloi balcony', yet another panoramic viewpoint into the Vikos Gorge. After our walk we will drive to the nearby village of Tsepelovo for lunch, which, at a height of 1200 metres, offers wonderful views over the mountain range of Tymfi.
Day 9: Transfer to Corfu airport for the return flight to London Heathrow.
NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion
Please note: the itinerary will include gentle walking of up to 3 hours each day in sometimes 'wild' countryside in order to fully experience a representative range of 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 18 passengers.
Our tour is predomninantly based in Monodendri, one of 48 picturesque stone villages of the 'Zagoriahoria', (Zagoria Villages), in the north west corner of mainland Greece. However, we also include two nights in Corfu, as this is where we arrive and depart for this tour, and because the town is wonderful to explore and shouldn’t be missed! Our Corfu hotel is well-located for exploring Corfu’s wonderful historic 'old town' but also provides a relaxed arrival before heading to Monodendri for our days filled with botanising.
The Arion Hotel, Corfu
The Arion Hotel is situated just 100m from the sea front, 1200m from the centre of historic Corfu town and just a short walk from the beautiful gardens of Mon-Repos. All rooms have their own private bathroom, TV, air-conditioning, balcony and free Wi-Fi. The lounge area, indoor bar and restaurant with their elegant furniture and high windows create a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. A buffet style breakfast is served daily. Tavernas are easily accessed from the hotel on foot in just a few minutes.
Arion Hotel Website
Philoxenia Hotel, Monodendri
The family-run Philoxenia Hotel is a very attractive, traditionally designed, stone-built hotel situated in the upper part of the quiet village of Monodendri. Featuring wooden ceilings and floors, warm colours and dark wood furnishings; the comfortable and pristine ensuite bedrooms, with private bathrooms, are equipped with TV, fridge and hairdryer. A breakfast buffet, with wonderful homemade local specialities, is served daily in a traditionally furnished dining area. The hotel has a small bar and comfortable lounge area. Free Wi-Fi access is available in all public spaces; magazines and board games are also available. Tavernas are within a 2-minute walk.
Philoxenia Hotel Website
The only reason I downgraded the tour manager was the haphazard timing of lunches. Otherwise excellent
Review by Anonymous who travelled 28-May-2019
We had a truly wonderful trip. The hotel in Corfu was absolutely excellent (the breakfast was mind-blowing in its variety!) and we were delighted with the accommodation in Monodendri, where we were made to feel extremely welcome. Epirus far exceeded our expectations, both in its scenery and its flora, and our two guides, Jane and Graham, were superb - endlessly patient and doing everything to make our stay in Corfu and Epirus really memorable. We much enjoyed the company of our fellow travellers and the group meals were always very convivial occasions. Our only quibble was that we were the only couple on both flights who were seated in different rows and on different sides of the aisle. As we had booked our places on the tour well in advance in November, this seemed rather unfair.
Review by Carr who travelled 28-May-2019
A really special holiday, in which we enjoyed the expertise and personalised attention of Jane, Graham and Nikos. The contrast between the two centres, Corfu and Monodendri in Epirus, could not have been more dramatic - the former a charming island and the latter, quite unlike the general perception of Greece, with spectacular mountains, deep gorges, quiet villages and unspoilt wild flowers. We felt both relaxed and stimulated - an excellent combination.
Review by Greensmith who travelled 28-May-2019
I really enjoyed this tour in such a fascinating area. Many thanks to Graham for his amazing botanical knowledge and many thanks to Jane our brilliant Tour Guide.
Review by Anonymous who travelled 28-May-2019
A wonderful tour. Jane is an exceptional Tour Manager who ensured that everything went well. Graham, our guide, was very patient as he repeated, yet again, the spellings of the Latin names and offered many insights to the Epirus area. An excellent team that enabled us to fully enjoy the tour. Many thanks to them all.
Review by Atkinson who travelled 28-May-2019
Review by Anonymous who travelled 28-May-2019
Despite missing the first day due to my flight being cancelled, I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Jane and Graham and Nikos went out of their way to ensure we were all well looked after and made sure we saw all that was possible of the flowers and the stunning scenery in Epirus. Thank you to Neil for re-arranging my flight so efficiently. I shall just have t o return to Corfu sometime to see the Old Town. No real hardship, if I can face the thought of the airport again!
Review by Conridge who travelled 30-May-2018
A wonderful memorable tour from start to finish. Graham, Jane and Nikos are an excellent team They all made sure we saw everything. Graham is very knowledgeable and we saw lots of lovely flowers, some of them new to us. Jane made sure we were all looked after and she made sure we saw a lot of Epirus and chose some very nice restaurants in lovely villages. Nikos driving is superb and he is most helpful and friendly. This is a well constructed tour with lots to interest everyone in a very beautiful unspoilt area of Greece. One of the best tours we have ever been on.
Review by Owens who travelled 30-May-2018
This is the fourth wild flower tour we have doe with you - Crete, Peloponnese, Minorca previously. This has been the best for flowers and scenery, with Jane and Grtaham up to their peerless standards. Thank you - we may sign up to Parnassus in the next year or two.
Review by who travelled 30-May-2018
Our fourth flower tour and it certainly lived up to our high expectations. Jane, Graham and Nicos are a superb team and did everything in their power to make the week a wonderful experience. Epirus is a very interesting place and we look forward very much to returning, perhaps at a different time of year.
Review by Mrs Norma Cook who travelled 01-June-2017
Of the many holidays we have had with your company it was probably the best due to location fauna flora and the company. Should an autumn version be available in 2018 we would be very interested
Review by Mrs Cynthia Knowles who travelled 01-June-2017
We had a great holiday, our leader Jane, botanist Graham Kendall & driver Nico were an excellent team. All well organised, a good itinerary & nice group size. The family run Philoxenia Hotel was very welcoming & friendly.
Review by Mrs Judith Morgan who travelled 01-June-2017
I was a little concerned about travelling on my own in advance. I needn't have worried as our guide Jane created a friendly atmosphere in which everyone mixed easily. Great, fresh Greek food everywhere. The Epirus scenery and flowers were breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt. Already longing to return.
Review by Mrs Karen Netto who travelled 01-June-2017
Both Tour Manager Jane and Botanist Graham ensured that we had a splendid week or so. Botanically, Epirus far exceeded my expectations. I shall certainly be holidaying with you again!
Review by Mrs Jessica Clinch who travelled 10-June-2016
Superb, caring team of Jane, Graham and Nico. Hotel owners and Hotel in Monodendri excellent. Staggeringly beautiful scenery and well-chosen expeditions. Would like to visit Monodendri again at different time of year. Annoyed that BA splits up passengers obviously travelling together but ever effective Jane sorted out return journey.
Review by Mr James Spanner who travelled 10-June-2016
Review by who travelled 02-June-2016
I had high expectations of this holiday which were exceeded. Graham was an affable, knowledgeable & thoroughly good expert & Annie made sure everything ran smoothly. Thanks for a wonderful holiday in a totally unspoilt & beautiful area.
Review by Mr Ted Brown who travelled 02-June-2016
I enjoyed the Epirus section very much, though on balance I'm not sure the long trip to Metsovo was worthwhile, despite seeing some fascinating things. I would also have preferred more time in Epirus with just an overnight/half day in Corfu but our 2 night stay might have been arranged in order to fit in with a subsequent group coming in. The trip had elements (the days in Zagoria) that were about the best I've experienced and a fuller focus on that would have been a more coherent holiday. I would definitely recommend the Epirus section to friends.
Review by Ms Alison Vaughan who travelled 02-June-2016
The best yet. Wonderful flowers, awesome scenery, nice food and Graham leading us. What more could one ask for.
Review by Mrs Lyndall Bishop who travelled 02-June-2016
A very good trip to Epirus. Fantastic scenery and flowers and well organised.
Review by Ms Anne Sinclair who travelled 07-June-2015
Jane freeman nad Graham kendall made an excellent team with their knowledge and experience greatly enhancing our holiday. SUPERB!
Review by Mr Roger Alma who travelled 07-June-2015
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