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Butterflies of Southern Greece

Tour Code: GRC01

An 8-day holiday to southern Greece in search of the butterflies of Mount Chelmos, on the Peloponnese, and Mount Parnassos.

8 days from £1495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1295 SRS: £150

This midsummer wildlife holiday in southern Greece focuses on the amazing variety of butterfly species found on the Peloponnese and Mount Parnassos. Both areas are famed for their proliferation of butterflies including a number of local specialities. The forested slopes of Mount Chelmos will be the focus of our field activities in the Peloponnese from a comfortable hotel base in the town of Kalavitra. Our tour then concludes above the historic ruins of Delphi on Mount Parnassos, a mountain steeped in legend and rich in butterflies. This is a holiday that promises over a hundred species of butterfly as well as a fine selection of birdlife, dragonflies and flora.

  • Enjoy a fabulous variety of butterfly species
  • 50 species in a day (100+ in a week) is possible
  • Search for the elusive Chelmos Blue
  • Enjoy a rich birdlife & flora too
  • Picturesque mountain scenery
  • Visit Delphi’s famous Temple of Apollo
  • Greek summer sunshine
  • Learn from our expert lepidopterist tour leader


All included in the price.


Comfortable 2-star hotels, with private facilities.

Balkan Marbled White (Tony Abrehart)

Balkan Marbled White (Tony Abrehart)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Athens; transfer to Kalavrita

Day 2/4 Mount Chelmos area, from Kalavrita

Day 5/7 Delphi and Mount Parnassos

Day 8 Fly London

For all lovers of the natural world there is no finer spectacle than a meadow brimming with wild flowers attended by dancing clouds of brightly coloured butterflies. This is a scene that epitomises the drowsy days of summer and yet, for those of us living in the intensively farmed regions of Great Britain, it is one that is consigned to the wistful memories of the elderly. Fortunately, there are still areas in Europe where a century of change has scarcely diminished the profusion of flowers, and where the spirit can still be uplifted by the myriad of butterflies sipping nectar in the summer sunshine. Southern Greece is particularly favoured in this respect and the destination for this Naturetrek holiday. Our relaxing, week-long tour focuses on two of the most famous butterfly mountains of Greece — Mount Chelmos and Mount Parnassos. Situated on opposite sides of the Gulf of Corinth, these two mountain massifs present a wide range of habitats from hot Mediterranean scrub, pine forests and olive groves, to mountain streams, alpine pastures and meadows, rocky scree and even patches of snow! We will be searching mainly for butterflies, dragonflies and other insect-life, but also keeping an eye open for birds, lizards, and any other wildlife we might encounter.

During our week we will be based firstly in the small town of Kalavrita, situated on the north-west slopes of Mount Chelmos, part of the Aroanian Mountains on the Peloponnese. After several days spent in leisurely exploration of this fascinating area by minibus and on foot we will then transfer to Delphi, home of the famous Temple of Apollo and very convenient for access to the Parnassos National Park situated just to the north. The richness of the butterflies of this region is legendary amongst entomologists, but it is perhaps not so much the scarce or restricted species which impress the visitor as much as the sheer diversity and abundance of individual butterflies in some areas. The identification of over 50 species of butterfly in a day is quite feasible, and the sight of hundreds of Balkan Marbled Whites, Black-veined Whites and Clouded Yellows, all crowding together on patches of thistles, is astonishing to those of us more used to a mere scattering of butterflies in cooler northern climes. On the forested slopes of Mount Chelmos we can find Grecian Copper, Escher’s Blue, Meleager’s Blue, at least three species of ‘Anomalous Blue’ (including the endemic Chestnut Anomalous Blue and Grecian Anomalous Blue), Great Banded Grayling, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Cleopatra and another south-east European speciality — the White-banded Grayling. At the summit plateau we will search for the very local race of Greek Clouded Yellow, Mountain Small White, Clouded Apollo and we might even track down the famous but elusive Chelmos Blue! Sunny woodland glades in the surrounding valleys are graced with numerous Silver-washed Fritillaries, Large Tortoiseshell, Southern White Admiral and the occasional Camberwell Beauty. Descending to the river valleys to the south of the massif we will encounter various dragonflies such as EM>Calopteryx virgo/EM>, EM>Lestes barbarus/EM> and the bizarre EM>Onychogomphus forcipatus/EM> as we walk along the edges of the streams, whilst Cetti’s Warblers pour out their explosive torrents of song from riverine bushes and Great Reed Warblers grate noisily from marshy vegetation. This is also a good area to look for the endemic Peloponnese Wall Lizard basking in the morning sun and Kotschy’s Gecko, an Asian reptile with a range that just stretches into southern Greece.

Our final destination, Mount Parnassos, is similarly blessed with an abundance of butterfly species and has its own range of attractions, including Blue Argus, Balkan Copper, Krueper’s Small White, Zephyr Blue, Freyer’s Grayling and Oriental Meadow Brown. Ascending to the alpine meadows, haunt of Alpine Chough and Rock Thrush, we will search for some of the butterfly species of the higher altitudes such as Clouded Apollo, Purple-shot Copper, Greek Clouded Yellow and perhaps the unobtrusive Black Ringlet. Two full days exploring the various elevations and habitats of this butterfly-rich mountain will be interspersed with a visit to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Even at this world famous archaeological site there is an impressive population of butterflies in the surrounding hillsides and a diverse selection of bird species including Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear and Ruppell’s Warbler.

Greek hospitality, warm Mediterranean weather, magnificent scenery, a touch of history and, above all, a bumper show of butterflies make an unbeatable combination for everyone with an enthusiasm for these jewels of the insect world.

Antikira (Liz Savory)Balkan Marbled White (Toby Abrehart)Black-veined White (William Lintott)Bush Crickets (William Lintott)Chelmos Blue (Toby Abrehart)Cicada (Toby Abrehart)Grasshopper on allium (Toby Abrehart)Great Banded Grayling (Toby Abrehart)Greek Mazarine Blue (William Lintott)Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Toby Abrehart)Mt Chelmos (Liz Savory)Powdered Brimstone (Toby Abrehart)Robber-fly (William Lintott)Scorpion sp. (William Lintott)Southern White Admiral (William Lintott)Turquoise Blue (William Lintott)White-legged Damselfly (Toby Abrehart)Zygaena carniolica (Toby Abrehart)Temple of ApolloBalkan Marbled White (copyright Toby Abrehart)
Phil did his utmost to find us as many different butterflies as possible. His organisation was faultless. He also appreciated my interest in plants and made a point of identifying endemic or interesting species.
Mr & Mrs D
The sheer quantity of butterflies was extraordinary and the chance to see species not seen in the UK. We enjoyed the cultural side too, such as visiting the Delphi World Heritage Site. Phil's knowledge of birdsong and other flora and fauna was comprehensive and added another dimension.
The daily schedule was fine with time to rest in the evening. The leader was knowledgeable and patient and keen to pass on his knowledge. He was also a good minibus driver. The scenery was spectacular. The visit to the Delphi Temple site was good.
The leader Phil Thompson was excellent. He was knowledgeable, helpful and provided tasty picnic lunches. He really made the trip memorable.
This was one of my best butterfly trips with Naturetrek - the superb weather, excellent number of butterflies and very good accommodation and food all contributed to the result.
West Midlands
Overall, a very well organised tour with group leaders with a great deal of knowledge.
There were great sites for butterflies, superb skills by leaders - a memorable holiday. It was very good indeed.
County Durham
I especially appreciated the way we stayed in small friendly guest houses serving local food.
I just had to give Naturetrek a try and I'm glad I went and saw some wonderful things (the highlight for me was the successful search and discovery of the Grass Jewel near Delphi).
County Durham
Rob Parker did an excellent job ... he really did work hard to give everyone what they had paid for. Phil Thompson was also very good and both were friendly and approachable.
County Durham
The holiday itself was most enjoyable and I think Rob Parker should be congratulated for leading it so well ...
Rob was very pleasant, knowledgeable and well organised. He is spectacularly effective with a butterfly net and a calm and efficient administrator. Phil is an all-round naturalist who expanded the natural history range of the holiday very productively.
West Midlands
Very good and informative, especially to a butterfly novice like me. Being based in Delphi for the second half of the trip was a master stroke.
I feel that the two leaders, Martin Davies and Mike Prentice, need special mention for their outstanding leadership and dedication to their subject. They both worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone experienced the maximum enjoyment from the holiday.
Again trip made by leaders! Enthusiasm shown by them was infectious.
This was my first butterfly holiday. It was good to have the chance of spending time seeing the butterflies at really close quarters.
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Sat 15th June 2019 - Sat 22nd June 2019



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1295 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Greece

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Phil did his utmost to find us as many different butterflies as possible. His organisation was faultless. He also appreciated my interest in plants and made a point of identifying endemic or interesting species.
P.W., Dorset