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For all lovers of the natural world thereis no finer spectacle than a meadowbrimming with wild flowers attendedby dancing clouds of brightly colouredbutterflies. This is a scene that epitomisesthe drowsy days of summer and yet, forthose of us living in the intensively farmedregions of Great Britain, it is one that isconsigned to the wistful memories of theelderly. Fortunately, there are still areas inEurope where a century of change hasscarcely diminished the profusion offlowers, and where the spirit can still beuplifted by the myriad of butterflies sippingnectar in the summer sunshine. SouthernGreece is particularly favoured in thisrespect and the destination for thisNaturetrek holiday. Our relaxing, week-long tour focuses ontwo of the most famous butterfly mountainsof Greece - Mount Chelmos and MountParnassos. Situated on opposite sides ofthe Gulf of Corinth, these two mountainmassifs present a wide range of habitatsfrom hot Mediterranean scrub, pine forestsand olive groves, to mountain streams,alpine pastures and meadows, rocky screeand even patches of snow! We will besearching mainly for butterflies, dragonfliesand other insect-life, but also keeping aneye open for birds, lizards, and any otherwildlife we might encounter.During our week we will be based firstly inthe small town of Kalavrita, situated on thenorth-west slopes of Mount Chelmos, partof the Aroanian Mountains on thePeloponnese. After several days spent inleisurely exploration of this fascinatingarea by minibus and on foot we will thentransfer to Delphi, home of the famousTemple of Apollo and very convenient foraccess to the Parnassos National Parksituated just to the north.The richness of the butterflies of thisregion is legendary amongstentomologists, but it is perhaps not somuch the scarce or restricted specieswhich impress the visitor as much as thesheer diversity and abundance ofindividual butterflies in some areas. Theidentification of over 50 species of butterflyin a day is quite feasible, and the sight ofhundreds of Balkan Marbled Whites,Black-veined Whites and Clouded Yellows,all crowding together on patches ofthistles, is astonishing to those of us moreused to a mere scattering of butterflies incooler northern climes.On the forested slopes of Mount Chelmoswe can find Grecian Copper, Escher'sBlue, Meleager's Blue, at least threespecies of 'Anomalous Blue' (including theendemic Chestnut Anomalous Blue andGrecian Anomalous Blue), Great BandedGrayling, Queen of Spain Fritillary,Cleopatra and another south-eastEuropean speciality - the White-bandedGrayling. At the summit plateau we willsearch for the very local race of GreekClouded Yellow, Mountain Small White,Clouded Apollo and we might even trackdown the famous but elusive ChelmosBlue! Sunny woodland glades in thesurrounding valleys are graced withnumerous Silver-washed Fritillaries, LargeTortoiseshell, Southern White Admiral andthe occasional Camberwell Beauty.Descending to the river valleys to the southof the massif we will encounter variousdragonflies such as Calopteryx virgo,Lestesbarbarusand the bizarre Onychogomphusforcipatusas we walk along the edges ofthe streams, whilst Cetti's Warblers pour outtheir explosive torrents of song from riverinebushes and Great Reed Warblers gratenoisily from marshy vegetation. This is alsoa good area to look for the endemicPeloponnese Wall Lizard basking in themorning sun and Kotschy's Gecko, anAsian reptile with a range that just stretchesinto southern Greece.Our final destination, Mount Parnassos, issimilarly blessed with an abundance ofbutterfly species and has its own range ofattractions, including Blue Argus, BalkanCopper, Krueper's Small White, ZephyrBlue, Freyer's Grayling and OrientalMeadow Brown. Ascending to the alpinemeadows, haunt of Alpine Chough andRock Thrush, we will search for some of thebutterfly species of the higher altitudes suchas Clouded Apollo, Purple-shot Copper,Greek Clouded Yellow and perhaps theunobtrusive Black Ringlet. Two full daysexploring the various elevations andhabitats of this butterfly-rich mountain willbe interspersed with a visit to the Temple ofApollo at Delphi. Even at this world famousarchaeological site there is an impressivepopulation of butterflies in the surroundinghillsides and a diverse selection of birdspecies including Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear and Rüppell's Warbler. Greek hospitality, warm Mediterraneanweather, magnificent scenery, a touch ofhistory and, above all, a bumper show ofbutterflies make an unbeatable combinationfor everyone with an enthusiasm for thesejewels of the insect world.Butterflies of Southern Greece An 8-day holiday to southern Greece in search of the butterflies of Mount Chelmos, on the Peloponnese, and Mount Parnassos. Saturday 22nd June - Saturday 29th June Cost: £1,595Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Athens; transfer toKalavrita.Day 2/4Mount Chelmos area,from Kalavrita.Day 5/7Delphi and MountParnassos.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable 2-star hotels, withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA/B. Slow-paced walks of between5-8 kilometres each day, some inmontane terrain.FocusButterflies, dragonflies and generalnatural history.LeaderToby Abrehart.Single room supplement £150.ExtensionsOn request.Web quick search: GRC0172Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryGREECEAEGEAN SEA MEDITERRANEANSEA PELOPONNESEGULF OF CORINTHATHENSKALAVRITAMOUNTKILLINIMOUNTCHELMOSDELPHIMOUNTPARNASSOSTemple of Apollo, DelphiBalkan Marbled WhiteMount Chelmos10% DONATIONTO

South of mainland Greece, and joinedto the rest of the country only by the6-kilometre Corinth isthmus, lies thePeloponnese. This enormous peninsula isstrewn with the remains of Classicalantiquity and Byzantine monuments, and it also contains some of Greece'smost spectacularly varied scenery - high mountains, attractive streams, fertileplains, valleys and lovely beaches. Thearea is richly endowed, both in namesfamous from Greek mythology, and nature. As well as being pleasing to theeye, the area's karst scenery creates richlimestone soils on which grow thePeloponnese's famous assemblage ofautumn-flowering bulbs.The Peloponnese endures relentless heatfrom June to September, but the earth herecomes to life once again in the autumnand early winter. The local plant-life hasevolved to escape the intense summerheat by growing during the early and lattermonths of the year, and many specieschoose to flower at this time. The region is,therefore, justly famous for its diversity ofautumn-flowering bulbs, and these will bethe focus, and highlight, of our tour -indeed, it is the only place in Europe whereit is possible to see cyclamen, crocus andsnowdrops in flower at the same time! Forested mountains and idyllic beachescharacterise the Peloponnese landscape.On a map, the peninsula's shape isreminiscent of fingers spreading out intothe sea, each 'finger' with its owncharacteristic micro-habitats and flora,while the severe Taygetos Mountain rangerises steeply to the west of the Plain ofSparta. The limestone peak of MountTaygetos stands 2,404 metres high and isclad in forests of Black Pine and fir.Following two nights in the small town ofKalavrita, from where we will enjoy thebotany and scenery of Mount Chelmos, wemove to the charming seafront town ofGytheio for the remaining five nights of thetour. Gytheio is the gateway to the Manipeninsula, and is an ideal base from whichto explore the region's three areas of keybotanical interest, Mani, Mystras andMalea, which jut out into the Aegean Sea.Even in late autumn the weather in thispart of Greece is typically still warm andsunny, providing ample opportunities toenjoy full days of botanising, to venture insearch of specific floral treats, to eat alfrescoand to soak up the last rays ofEuropean sun for the year.Though familiar in Britain as one of theharbingers of spring, approximately onethird of all crocus species (there are 80 intotal) flower in autumn and some rightthrough the winter. In the Peloponnese, asthe summer temperatures cool down andthe first rains arrive, the flowering ofcrocuses and other plants is triggered.Nestled among the moist stream beds andgorges of the Taygetos Mountains arepatches of cyclamen and snowdrops, andof particular interest are the delightfulblooms of Galanthus reginae olgaeandwidespread Cyclamen hederifoliumhederifolium. Some late-flowering stands ofColchicumspp. also appear at this time ofyear, as well as crocus, which flower ingreat profusion on these slopes! To the east of Gytheio, Malea is home tothe small, pale lilac Crocus hadriaticusssp. parnonicusas well as breathtakingdisplays of Crocus goulimyiin season, andthese stands are often accompanied byCrocus laevigatus. The white blooms of thelatter are a treat to see, for they are uniqueto the Peloponnese, its petals beingstriped in Crete! Among the many specialcrocuses of this area is the endemicCrocus biflorusssp. melantheruswhichblooms in autumn - in fact, it is the onlyone of the four biflorussubspecies toflower at this time of year, and represents aunique adaptation to survival here in thecountry's driest region. The central of the three peninsulas we willexplore on this tour is Mani, and it is herewe will hope to find the largest of thecrocuses, Crocus niveus. Its name means'of the snows' - a somewhat curiouschoice for a plant which occurs down tosea level! It is a delightful member of thefamily, however, sporting large white andpale lilac flowers (which can be up to sixinches high!) with deep yellow throats. Inaddition, the scented Cyclamenhederifoliumssp. confusumwill be inflower, along with masses of Cyclamengraecum. Both are common on rockyhillsides and in olive groves at this time of year. Yellow Sternbergiaare commonthroughout the Peloponnese and thecurious aroid Biarum tenuifoliumis another speciality here. The Peloponnese is a rocky, starklybeautiful land baked by summer sun, and adorned in autumn with wonderfulannual displays of autumn-flowering bulbs - and it is these little-knowntreasures of the region which will be thefocus of this holiday, led by our expert and enthusiast, David Tattersfield.Autumn Plants of the PeloponneseAn 8-day holiday to the Peloponnese in search of the wonderful displays of autumn-flowering bulbs among the limestone mountains and plains of ancient Sparta.Wednesday 31st October - Wednesday 7th November 2012 Cost: £1,195Wednesday 30th October - Wednesday 6th November 2013 Cost: £1,295(This tour can be combined with our 'Crete in Autumn' holiday outlined on Page 43)Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationGREECEAEGEAN SEA MEDITERRANEANSEA PELOPONNESEGULF OF CORINTHATHENSKALAVRITAGYTHEIOTRIPOLIMOUNTCHELMOSOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Athens; transferKalavrita.Day 2Botanical excursionsfrom Kalavrita.Day 3/7Botanical excursionsfrom Gytheio.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotels in Kalavrita andGytheio. All rooms have privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price, exceptdinners in Gytheio. Allow £75.GradingA. Easy day walks.FocusAutumn-flowering bulbs, plus otherflowers and wildlife. LeaderDavid Tattersfield.Single room supplement£160.Web quick search: GRC0773Cyclamen graecumTaygetos Mountains, Mani peninsula