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New tour: Spring in Puglia

Lesser Kestrel (Peter Dunn)

Lesser Kestrel (Peter Dunn)

We are pleased to announce in this newsletter the launch of our new spring tour to Italy’s delightful Puglia region, situated in the far south-east of the country. Known for its olive trees and curious conical-roofed ‘trulli' (traditional Apulian dry stone huts), Puglia offers a profusion of spring flowers, as well as the largest colony of Lesser Kestrels in Italy. Puglia also boasts some impressive limestone gorges, caves and sinkholes. Perhaps the best-known limestone formation is the ‘Gravina di Laterza’. Extending over 12 kilometres and 200-metres-deep in places, the Gravina has been likened to the Grand Canyon. The region’s karst scenery is not only attractive to the eye, but also provides a mosaic of habitats for wildlife.
 
During this 2-centre holiday we will stay in charming family-run ‘Masseria’ (these are fortified Puglian farm houses). Our first base is near the historic seaside town of Otranto, whilst the second is situated just north of Taranto and is surrounded by extensive grounds that are home to a profusion of orchids.
 
We begin our holiday with an exploration of the Capo D’Otranto, Italy’s most easterly point (it is in fact closer to Albania and Corfu than to Naples!). This is an excellent vantage point for watching the spring raptor migration as birds pass north towards the Balkans, and among the area’s maquis vegetation we should find colourful pink and white Cistus, yellow Callicotome, bright green Tree Spurge, and Lentisk (Mastic trees). At this time of year, many butterflies should be on the wing such as Italian Marbled Whites, Swallowtails and Adonis Blues, while Italian Wall Lizards bask on sunny rocks. Further north, we will explore Le Cesine in search of orchid species including Apulian Bee Orchid, Ophrys sphegodes subsp. candica, Bumblebee Orchid and Lax-flowered Orchid, whilst birds such as Little Terns and Kentish Plover nest on beaches.
 
From our second base near Taranto we will explore areas of interest such as Matera and Laterza, as well as the Parco Murgia in search of Lesser Kestrel, Red and Black Kites, Alpine and Pallid Swifts and Blue Rock Thrush. We will also make time to visit some of the ancient cave dwellings that dot the region, and, if time permits, ancient churches cut out of the rocks. A walk along the Gravina di Laterza offers the chance to see breeding Egyptian Vulture, Lanner Falcon and peonies.
 
This is a fascinating and relatively undiscovered part of Italy, and indeed of the Mediterranean. Here, wildlife and culture combine with good food and old-fashioned hospitality to make this a delightful addition to our portfolio of Italian holidays.

Dates: Mon 17th – Mon 24th April 2017
 
Contact:
Further information, including prices and provisional flight details, will be available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, to register your interest and be the first to receive the full tour itinerary, please call Andy on 01962 733051 or email andy@naturetrek.co.uk.