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Lily Group Programme 2016-2017

Organised by Duncan Coombs.  Email
TOUR COST 1,810 Euros (based on two sharing, reduced from 1,900 Euros)  180 Euros (single supplement)
INCLUDES  All accommodation in comfortable hotels All meals and transport Guiding
EXCLUDES  International flights (BA currently less than 200 return) Personal travel insurance Personal expenses Drinks (alcohol or soft drinks at evening meal). Note, we have soft drinks, juice etc. for lunch.

Day 1  To Thessaloniki

After arriving in the afternoon at Thessalonik airport we will have dinner and a night at the comfortable Royal Hotel.

Day 2  Mount Vournos

A couple of hours or so to the north-west of Thessaloniki is Mount Vournos with thriving populations of
Lilium carniolicum growing amid a wealth of other alpine flowers including Digitalis viridiflora, Dianthus deltoides, Viola doefleri and the globular heads of Campanula foliosa. The rest of the day will be spent exploring and enjoying the high mountain slopes. In the afternoon we'll desend and dsrive past the scenic Prespo Lakes to the village of Agios Germanos.

Day 3  To Papigo via Vikos Gorge

In the morning we will transfer to the Pindos Mountains, stopping to look at
Morina persica and other interesting roadside plants. Nestled among the spectacular landscapes of Mount Timfi is the dramatic Vikos Gorge. A small population of Lilium chalcedonicum grows here in the woods too. And nearby areas have impressive spikes of Himantoglossum caprinum and other orchids. The night will be spent in the delightful Zagorian village of Papigo at the entrance to the gorge.

Day 4  Smolikas o/n Papigo

North-east of Papigo is Mount Smolikas, the best location to find
Lilium carniolicum ssp. albanicum. To reach the lilies we will have to walk several kilometres and gain six hundred metres in altitude, they grow at 2400m, roads only reach until 1800m, but we will have all day to do this. Overnight in Papigo.

Day 5  Kipi & Aoos Lake o/n Metsovo

A strong population of
Lilium candidum grows around Kipi, but we are unlikely to see them in good flower as their season is earlier. However, there may still be a few in flower so we will visit these as well as the impressive triple arch stone bridge. Driving on we will arrive at Aoos Lake, a deligthful flower-rich location. The rest of the afternoon will be spent travelling around the lake to see the abundant Dactylorhiza saccifera, Gymnadenis conopsea, Anthericum lilago, Pinguicula crystallina and handsome spikes of Digitalis grandiflora. The night will be spent in Metsovo at an excellent hotel with an attached winery.

Day 6  To Drama via Mount Vermion o/n Drama

A long transfer across northern Greece is necessary, but good fast roads make this easy enough and the journey will be broken with a visit to Mount Vermion to see
Lilium chalcedonicum in the oakwoods there. Overnight is in the beautifully positioned village of Taxiarches.

Day 7  Megalo Lividi o/n Drama

Perhaps the most sought after lily of the tour is
Lilium rhodopaeum and these grow in the lush, forest clad hills of Rhodope National Park and in inaccessible places. 4WD vehicles are necessary to cope with the bad roads, but the forests are a delight and hopefully we will get to see this beautiful species. Growing nearby are also small colonies of purple-pink  Lilium martagon ssp cataniae. Overnight Taxiarches.

Day 8  Mount Falakron o/n Thessaloniki

Lilium martagon ssp cataniae also occurs on Mount Falakron, which is also host to some fine alpines with Hypericum olympicumAnthyllis aurea and lots of Digitalis lanata. Depending on flight timings we will overnight in Taxiarches or return to Thessaloniki in the afternoon.

Day 9 Return flights or return to Mount Vournos

For anyone interested we can return for a night to Mount Vournos for the day where the large colony of
Lilium martagon ssp cataniae should be in flower by now. Once again the roads are bad and we will need 4WD vehicles. o/n Thessaloniki.

Day 10 Return flights.

Our epic journey starting and ending at Thessaloniki Airport will take us through stunning scenery of spectacular mountains, forests, gorges and lakes. We will be staying for one or two nights at a time in beautiful villages and other places of interest -- the hotel in Metsovo has an attached winery

The stars of the show
We can expect to see alpine Lilium carniolicum, woodland L. chalcedonicum,
L. martagon ssp. cattaniae, L. albanicum and the fabled L. rhodopeum. Finding these last two, we'll feel a real sense of achievement -- they'll need 4WD vehicles for the bad roads, and a lot of hard walking. For L. albanicum the day involves several kilometres on foot from the road head at 1,800 m, to reach its site at 2,400 m.
We will also visit an area with a strong population of Lilium candidum. Though their season is earlier we may be lucky and find one or two still in flower

A treasure-trove of other wild flowers
This beautiful region of Greece is sparsely populated and very rich in wild flowers. Our long week (and long drives) will take us through many different habitats, each with its own specialities.
On the mountain slopes we can expect such combinations as Digitalis viridiflora, Dianthus deltoides, Viola doerfleri and Campanula foliosa with its unusual globular heads, or perhaps Hypericum olympicum, Anthyllis aurea and Digitalis lanata. Elsewhere will be many orchids such as Dactylorhiza saccifera, Gymnadenia conopsea and impressive spikes of Himantoglossum caprinum, with other flowers such as Anthericum liliago, Pinguicula crystallina and Morina persica.

Are you interested?
If so please contact Duncan as soon as possible to get a detailed itinerary, as places are limited. An optional extra day at the end can also be arranged.