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Review of Flowers of Crete

Flowers of Crete
Ranked #7 of 11 Tours in Elounda
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Owner description: Day trips and holidays in all parts of Crete to discover rare and beautiful wild flowers in idyllic locations far from the beaten track, with artist and writer Julia Jones, President and Founder of the charitable trust Flowers of Crete,dedicated to protection and conservation of the native flora of the island. Trips can be tailor made for guests preferred interests and abilities. Choose from high mountains, sacred caves, Minoan shrines and sanctuaries, remote tavernas, wild flowers, birds of prey and much more. Experience secret and wonderful areas that most people will never get to see. Please enquire for more details. Although based in Elounda, mountain trips are offered all around the island. Please ask for details.
Reviewed April 20, 2014

It was our second day in Crete. As flower lovers, with a special taste for orchids, we had an exiting experience on the previous day – so we built high expectation on this morning. Our first stop was for view from the top on the excavations of an ancient Minoan town in Gournia: an impressive sight – but this trip was mainly botanical, not historical. Yet one can't ignore history on this ancient island. As we looked down we on the spot we were standing a beautiful bush of dark blue flowers: the Achusa italica. But this was only a side treat – and we headed towards our breakfast on the beach. Walking along the beach, we could not ignore the yellow poppy flowers that welcomed us – the Glaucium flavum, with its curly wide leaves.
After enjoying the cheese pie at the Café, we continued our journey towards the Thripty mountain. The first endemic flower to welcome us on this day was a beautiful white Cyclamen (creticum) and next the colorful Iris cretansis. Not to long after we noticed little white balls hanging from a pine tree – these were the fruit of the parasite plant – Viscum album ssp. Creticum – another endemic! Encouraged by our recent findings we decended the tiny jeep and walked ashort distance to discover our first orchids for the day (which were the original aim of the trip). WE came across the delicate Orchis anatolica, finding it difficult to tell him apart from the very similar Orchis quadripunctata which grow not far away. Next was the yellow Orchis pauciflora, with its long upright curved spur. We observed a variety of Bee orchids from the Ophrys fusca family.
But we were impatient to get to the highlight of the trip. We ascended again Julia's little jeep and after a little while she advised us to take a little walk up a small creek. In a few steps we discovered our first Tulip in Crete! It was a very small Tulip – but how colorful! And then another one and then a whole bunch of them – They were the endemic Tulipa cretica. In between were scattered the local white Cyclamen. We continued walking along the hillside, and suddenly spotted a most tiny and delicate Orchid: The Neotinea maculate. We were sure we reached the climax of the day, so we headed towards the amall mountain village of Thripty. On our way we noticed the erect yellow candle-like flower of Arum creticum and the endemic Anemone hortensis ssp. Heldreichii. Suddenly, to our surprise, we spotted a Huge tulip arising out of a ditch. It was similar in color to the previous one we saw – but much bigger. That was the Tulipa saxatilis. Ouite impressive.
After lunch we continued to a field not far away, and enjoyed the colorful sight of different colors of Anemone coronaria. A few hundred meters away on a mild rocky slope we found another Bee orchid – the Ophrys omegaifera and finally a surprise: the rare yellow orchid Dactylorhiza romana! Now it was high time to head to our hotel in Elounda for a good rest.

5  Thank Yoav_Silbert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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22 - 26 of 42 reviews

Reviewed April 16, 2014

Julia met us at our hotel and was a brilliant tour guide from start to finish. We had a great time driving around in her jeep, taking in spectacular views over Crete. Julia has an outstanding level of knowledge about the flowers that we saw as well as other interesting facts about the island. We had a super meal in a mountain taverna too. I would recommend this trip to anyone who wants to get off the beaten track as well as those interested in seeing some spectacular specimens of wild flowers.

2  Thank Eleanor C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2014

A memorable day in the mountains was a delight due to Julia's expert knowledge of the mountains to find orchids and many other endemic species. She took us off road to magical places, incorporating a delicious lunch in a wonderful setting. Not only is Julia an expert in her field but is really fun to be with.

1  Thank Carolyn2502
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 13, 2014

I have long wanted to go to Crete and see the wildflowers in Spring. When I finally got there, I couldn't have wished for a better guide than Julia Jones, who made our trip a real joy. Her passion, knowledge, and ability to spot tiny wild orchids, cyclamen, tulips and countless other flowers are remarkable. She's relaxed, friendly and entertaining, and able to negotiate hairpin mountain bends with aplomb!

I spent two days with Julia, one of them with my husband joining us as well. We ended up high on the mountains in remote and peaceful places, well off the tourist track, taking in amazing views, flower-carpeted meadows and ancient archaeological sites. We saw lovely and delicate flowers, ate delicious, freshly prepared food, and generally had a wonderful time. It was clear that these trips are based on careful planning and research on Julia's part, but are not formulaic - she takes care to adapt to her guests' interests and level of expertise (or inexpertise in our case). Both days felt like glorious jaunts into the unknown, and we came home with a camera full of beautiful photos and our heads full of happy memories.

1  Thank Susie033
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2013

Like others, I found out about Julia's day trips on the Trip Advisor website. What a lucky find! Julia tailors her trips to suit her clients and I thought we had set her an impossible task. Jon, my husband, is a botanist/ecologist who walks with crutches and I am a hiker who thinks that flowers, trees, bushes etc merely "look pretty." Julia is friendly,cheerful,very knowledgable and puts people at their ease. Despite it being September, Jon and Julia found plenty of flowers, shrubs and trees to admire, including countless urginea lilies. The oak and maple forests were a stunning sight as had been "bonsai"ed by the local goats. We were lucky enough to see some goats in a tree, but they didn't wait around long enough to be photographed. The views at every corner are superb and Colin, the jeep, tackles the routes with ease. The Minoan remains we saw were awe inspiring and it is very evocative and moving to be alone in the midst of the ruins. Julia also took us to a very old frescoed church. On both days, we stopped at a mountain taverna where the food was delicious. We recommend these trips to anyone who wants to see more of Crete than just the coast. Thank you, Julia.

Jan and Jon Capel

1  Thank Jan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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