Secrets of Lesvos
Spring 2021 - tbc
Spring 2022 - tbc
A unique, island paradise of birds, orchids and walks
Sat on a migratory flyway - a stone’s throw away from Anatolia – and dotted with fantastic wetlands and a mosaic of Mediterranean habitats, Lesvos (or sometimes Lesbos) is a famous destination for lovers of birds, insects and plants. This is a relaxing jaunt though, as we stroll around the island, spending time to take in and enjoy whatever wonders come our way.
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The old trails and tracks between the villages invite us for walks amidst woodlands, groves and meadows, with the Aegean Sea never far away. You’ll pass swathes of orchids, anemones and tulips, while every now and then, a tortoise stoically crosses your path. Add to this the many hours of sunshine, traditional villages and fine, locally grown food and wine.
Lesvos is also packed with human and natural heritage. In and amongst our walks we'll visit the prehistoric town of Thermi, ancient sanctuaries, Byzantine monasteries and Ottoman castles. And the unique geology, which includes one of the world’s largest petrified forests, contribute to the island's inclusion as a UNESCO Geopark.
As with all Balkan Tracks tours, the main guide will be an ecologist, Yiannis, who has selected a cast of local people to help him show you around, from a donkey dairy and a pottery workshop to a day with a local orchid expert. Together with visits to the island's museums, the aim is to give you a feel of life on Lesvos today and in the past.
N.b. this page is being updated at the moment. Please email us for the full itinerary and FAQs, which we haven't uploaded yet.
Day 1 – Arrival
Meet Yiannis at Mytilini airport
Travel to our first hotel, by the coast, with Molyvos Castle looming over
Dinner by the sea
Days 2 - 5: the North & West
Nature walks around the lagoons and bay of Kalloni one day, and in an extinct volcano crater the next
An afternoon with donkeys
Petrified forest (UNESCO) and its excellent museum, both overlooking the sea
Ancient sanctuaries, Byzantine monasteries
Museum of industrial olive oil production
Days 5 - 8: the South & East
Second hotel in the mountains at Agiasos
Nature walks in the hills around Agiasos, in the forest, valleys and along the coast
Visit a prehistoric town and hot springs
Time in the capital of Mytilini, with its landmark church, waterfront, traditional food and ouzo.
A day with an orchid expert (Lesvos has 85+ species).
Day 9 – Departure
Back to the airport.
Most probably for flights via Athens, where we really suggest those who haven't visited before taking the opportunity to take in the Acropolis and its museum, Poseidon's temple at Sounio, the Museum of Cycladic Art, and just roam the streets that Socrates and Plato once walked.
Staying longer in Mytilini is no bad thing either. Mytilini town has some pleasant walks and a relaxed atmosphere. There is also the museum and gallery of one of Greece's foremost folk artists, Theophilos.
Scroll through photos of the itinerary, with descriptions below.
Use the left and right arrows to scroll.
Do remember that this tour revolves around a mix of nature and culture at a relaxing pace. So it's very much not a checklist tour; we won't be dawn to dusk in the field.
That being said, we know that many of you love your birds et al, so these are some of the delightful species found on the island in spring. Just keep in mind that the focus is on just being there and enjoying what comes by, and not seeking out anything in particular.
Cinereous bunting (resident)
Other birds of note
Squacco, purple and night heron
White-winged, whiskered & gull-billed tern
Rufous bush robin
Blue rock thrush
Black-eared and Isabelline wheatear
Ruppell’s, eastern orphean, sub-alpine & olive-tree warbler
Western rock nuthatch
and quite a few more...
over 330 bird species have been recorded, throughout the year, on the island.
Lesvos is also home to the following but bear in mind that they're not all within Yiannis's expertise, so please don't ask him to ID them all!
If you're an enthusiast with any though, he'll be very happy to learn from you.
4 amphibians and 22 reptiles