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Wild flower tour - Program

- Arrival, transfer to hotel, check-in 

- Lassithi plateau and wild flowers (full day)

-Today you visit the fertile Lasithi plateau, which rises to 840 metres above the sea level and is almost circular in shape. Here you can admire the breathtaking views and eplore the fields of several cyclamens, crocuses, verticilate heather and a variety of mountain plants. The Lasithi plateau is a vast expanse of pear and apple orchards, almond trees and fields of crops. The Plateau has been cultivated since  Minoan times, but lay abandoned for 200 years after the inhabitants were driven out by the ruling Venetians following an uprising in the 13th century. Its 10000 windmills have earned it the name, Valley of the Windmills. Of the villages, which are dotted around the plateau, Tzermiado is the largest.On the south-western verge of the plain, close to the village of Psykhron, you explore the area up to Dikti cave (Diktaion Antron), the legendary birthplace of Zeus, for wild flowers

- Knossos and orchid hunting (full day)
Enjoy a visit to the Minoan city of Knossos, which was the island’s earliest capital. Most of the site is still unexcavated. The ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos is believed to be more than 4000 years old and boasts an amazing 1400 rooms. It was excavated and partly reconstructed by Sir Arthur Evans from 1899 onwards. Mythology tells us that it was the home of King Minos, whose wife Pasiphae bore the  Minotaur, half-man half-bull, which lived in the labyrinth, until it was slain here by Theseus.
The extensive complex of buildings is laid out on four levels on hill Kefala and was originally of two and three storeys. Its complex rooms, halls and passages date back to 2500 BC. The remains now visible belong mainly to the Third Palace, which was built after 1700BC.
In the afternoon you travel to visit a winery. Protected by the mountains, Peza is one of the major wine producing areas in Crete. You then visit a pottery and big Pithos at the village of Thrapsanos where you will see the modern versions of the storage pots, which can be seen today in the Archaeological museum of Heraklion.

- Selinari Gorge and Spinalonga (full day)
Today your coach takes to to Eastern Crete, passing through the little Selinari Gorge were we stop to observe siege, oregano, Spanish oyster plants, sea squills, thyme and others and on to a hill which overlooks the Gulf of Mirabello. You continue to the fishing village of Elounda, were we stop for a while for the facilities and perhaps a drink.
Just off the holiday village of Elounda is the island of Spinalonga which was originally a peninsula. At its northern tip is a Venetian fortress, which was built in 1579 and enlarged in 1585. It withstood Turkish sieges for longer than any other Cretan stronghold and was used for some years, from 1897 onwards, as a hospital for the Hansenics. Since 1957 the island has been uninhabited and now days a very interested site.

-Messara valley (full day)
A tour of the south of the island takes you to the Mesara Valey, with its flowers, greenhouses and also isolated areas where the wild flowers of Crete thrive. Continue via the old road to a hill side stopping for a photograph and seeing the unique flowers en route.
You may also stop and visit ancient Phaestos, a city founded by king Minos and destroyed during the 2nd century BC. At the east end of the hill, laid out in terraces, is a palace similar to the one at Knossos and it was the second most important palace city of Minoan Crete. Build soon after 1650BC on this site of an earlier palace of around 1800BC, this palace was destroyed by an earthquake in around 1450BC. Only the remains of the west and north wings still survive. From a bastion on the highest terrace there is a magnificent view of the Mesara Plain, with its surrounding hills. After the visit of the Palace, we drive on to the beach of Matala for lunch and a little break.

In the afternoon you set off on a botanical exploration.
Wild flower tour (full day)
This day, we have agreed before, that the group leader and the local guide, will decide where to go for wild flowers (two main choices: to Chania – western Crete, to visit the Park for the preservation of flore & fauna of Crete of the University of Crete, where a wide collection of almost all Cretan endemic and other plants.

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