For friendly, expert advice call: +44 (0) 1962 733051 Office open Mon to Fri 8:30am - 5:30pm and Sat 9am - 1pm

The Island of Samos

Tour Code: GRC06

A 9-day holiday on the Mediterranean island of Samos in search of spring flowers, insects and migrating birds.

9 days from £1595(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1395 SRS: £160

The beautiful Greek island of Samos lies in the Aegean Sea, on an important migration route just a mile from the Turkish mainland. On daily wildlife walks and excursions from our friendly, family-run hotel in Karlovassi, Bee-eaters and Rollers will be amongst a range of colourful migrants we will enjoy, while in the island's mountainous interior we should find a good variety of raptors. A wide range of orchids will be found amongst the meadows and Cistus scrub, plus dragonflies and damselflies aplenty at a coastal marsh. Spectacular butterflies, too, complement the fine flora on this comparatively little-visited and charming Mediterranean island.

  • Fabulous wildlife on this tranquil Aegean island, home of Pythagoras
  • Rollers, Black-headed and Cretzschmar's Buntings & Rüppell's Warbler
  • 30+ orchid species amongst a rich flora
  • A wealth of reptiles, butterflies & other insects
  • Rugged, scenic terrain with many historical sites
  • Seven nights at a friendly, Greek, family-run hotel serving tasty home cooking


All included in the price.


A comfortable family-run hotel in Karlovassi, with private facilities.

Ruppell's Warbler (Peter Dunn)

Ruppell's Warbler (Peter Dunn)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London for Samos

Day 2/8 A daily programme of botanical and natural history walks from our base in Karlovassi

Day 9 Fly London

The beautiful Greek island of Samos lies in the eastern Aegean Sea, just a mile across the strait that separates it from the Turkish mainland, and close to the ancient site of Ephesus. Similar in size and shape to the Isle of Wight, Samos is a rugged island with two mountain ranges — the Kerkes and Ambelos — rising to nearly 1,500 metres. These ensure the island remains relatively green and fertile throughout the year, in contrast to the more barren, less mountainous neighbouring islands. They also contribute to an extremely varied landscape, and a wide range of habitats. These attract many migrant birds for, like nearby Lesbos, Samos lies on the main migration route along the Turkish coast. Bee-eaters will be amongst a range of colourful migrants we enjoy, whilst in the mountains we should find a good variety of resident birds of prey. The island’s varied habitats also support a rich and unique spring flora comprising a mix of eastern Mediterranean plants as well as localised montane species.

Samos, thankfully, remains comparatively little-visited and undeveloped. Hills are crowned with old churches and monasteries, and unspoiled mountain villages still foster a time-honoured lifestyle, offering travellers a warm welcome in traditional village tavernas. Best of all, a network of ancient tracks, many of them paved, allow us to explore the island as much as possible on foot as we search for and enjoy its natural history from our hotel in Karlovassi in the north-west of the island. From this excellent harbour base we will first explore the nearby coast and headland along to Potami. Here, in the Cistus scrub, we should find such orchids as EM>Orchis italica/EM>, EM>Ophrys fusca/EM> and EM>Ophrys speculum/EM>, as well as EM>Gladiolus illyricus/EM> and the strange EM>Clathrus ruber/EM>, a bright red fungus. On the shore are Yellow Horned-poppies, whilst Cory’s Shearwaters may be observed gliding out at sea. A damp area, where a stream joins the sea, proves excellent for dragonflies and damselflies, and spectacular butterflies such as Swallowtails complement the fine flora.

On another day we will walk further, towards the two bays of Mikro and Megalo Seitani, following a path that hugs a spectacular and wild coastline. Audouin’s and Mediterranean Gulls, as well as Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear and Black-headed Bunting, are likely to be amongst the day’s highlights, together with such new plants as Sword-leaved Helleborine, Helichrysum and EM>Dracunculus vulgaris/EM>. We will search, too, for the chameleons which are found here.

On the south-eastern corner of the island, close to Turkey, is a seasonal lake at Psili Amos. In spring this is home to Ruddy Shelducks, occasional flamingoes (presumably visiting from nearby Turkey), and many passage migrants, waders and other waterbirds. It is also a key staging post for many migrants, so virtually anything can make an appearance. Plants are also abundant and we will look for orchids such as Pyramidal, EM>Orchis anatolica/EM> and the local Horned Woodcock, EM>(Ophrys scolopax ssp. cornuta/EM>) amongst the carpets of Crown Daisy. We will combine this excursion with a visit to Pythagorion’s interesting and ancient ruins which, also being surrounded by flowers, are likely to satisfy even the most single-minded botanists amongst us!

The lower slopes of the Ambelos provide good easy walking. Here streamside meadows hold an excellent flora and a wide variety of dragonflies and damselflies. Spring plants include EM>Paeonia mascula/EM>, EM>Anemone blanda/EM>, EM>Lithodora hispidula/EM>, EM>Scilla bifolia/EM> and Broad-leaved Helleborine. The song of Nightingales fills the air in this picturesque region and our progress may be marked by the scolding rattle of Sardinian Warblers in the scrub and perhaps the song-flight of a Ruppell’s Warbler. We will also explore other foothill regions, particularly along the south coast, looking for such birds as Honey Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle and Black-headed Bunting and such new plants as Orchis fragrans, Sawfly Orchid and Honeywort. At a higher altitude, the rocky plateau at the summit of Mount Karvouni rears up above the pine forest and can be reached by a good path. Here we are in a very different world; plants cling to rocky crevices in this typical alpine habitat and many sport the intense colours of high mountain plants, veronicas, saxifrages, geraniums and erodiums being particularly obvious. Birds of these higher elevations include Chukar, Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle and Goshawk. There is also much to see on the walk to the summit, in particular a variety of orchids including Late Spider, EM>Orchis mascula ssp. pinetum/EM>, EM>Orchis tridentata/EM>, EM>Dactylorhiza romana/EM>, EM>Neotinea maculata/EM> and Violet Limodore.

After our week-long exploration of Samos by means of day walks and other excursions, we will have experienced a sound introduction to the diverse delights of the island and its wide range of wildlife, yet without exhausting the sheer variety it has to offer.

Gladiolus italicus - Field Gladiolus (Tony Albrehart)Samos coast (Tony Albrehart)Samos town (Peter Dunn)Ophrys oestifera - Horned Woodcock Orchid (Peter Dunn)Ophrys fusca - Sombre Bee Orchid (Peter Dunn)Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Peter Dunn)Orchis italica - Naked Man Orchid (Peter Dunn)Orchis fragrans - Bug Orchid (Paul Harmes)Flowery field (Paul Harmes)European Roller (Peter Dunn)Ophrys ferrum-equinum - Horseshoe Orchid (Paul Harmes)Arum dioscoridis (Paul Harmes)Balkan Green Lizard (Tony Albrehart)Black-eared Wheatear (Peter Dunn)Cercis siliquastrum - Judas Tree (Paul Harmes)Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Paul Harmes)Samos Coast (Tony Albrehart)Naturetrek Group (Tony Albrehart)Iris attica (Tony Albrehart)
Paul Harmes was an excellent leader. He encouraged us to look in his scope at the birds and told us all about them - it was very exciting to see the citrine wagtail, the golden oriole and the roller. He had a wide knowledge of natural history and could answer all our questions whether it was about flora, lizards or butterflies and we walked in beautiful countryside. He balanced all the interests of the group and was open to suggestions from the group when we asked if we could visit the Temple of Hera. He went out of his way to help us and he took us to the Temple on the way to the airport on the last day. It was absolutely fascinating and I saw a balkan green lizard there too!
Paul Harmes proved to be an excellent leader with an in-depth knowledge of the flora and fauna of Samos. He worked unstintingly throughout the holiday to provide each member of the group with a worthwhile experience - this was not an easy task in view of the fact that the group was made up of individuals with diverse interests. He is an excellent all-round naturalist and I would have no hesitation in taking a holiday in the future under his leadership. In addition to providing a well balanced programme, Paul also produced some first rate lunches, drove us safely all over the island and kept us entertained at dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed this, my first Naturetrek holiday - you have a first class product.
Paul Harmes should be complimented on his tremendous efforts to make things work well. He was considerate of individuals and worked very hard indeed to support and inform the rather varied interests of the group. He's good at preparing lunches too!
The flowers certainly lived up to expectations and Paul's encyclopaedic knowledge of every aspect of natural history made a one-leader trip perfectly acceptable. He always went the extra mile with identifying species and preparing picnic lunches!
Paul was, as always, an excellent leader. Full of a very wide range of knowledge he made sure all our varied interests were catered for. He was also very attentive to the needs of each person in the party.
Mrs F.
A wonderful holiday. Paul and Terry were such enthusiastic, knowledgeable and patient leaders.
Mrs P.
… for many reasons it was one of the best trips I have done with Naturetrek and in particular this was due to the superb leadership of both Paul and Terry … They both had such enthusiasm which they eagerly passed on to us and never tired of being asked the same thing over and over again! They were great fun and easy to get on with, we really couldn't have wished for more.
Just to let you know that the trip to Samos was everthing we could hope for. Our two leaders - Paul and Terry were excellent for their 'leading' and for their knowledge of the birds and plants. To have seen so many new birds and plants made this (our wedding anniversary trip) exceptional. To top it all seeing the endangered and elusive Golden Jackal was a rare moment indeed. The hotel was as friendly and comfortable as had been reported, and Theo and his mother could not do enough for us. We look forward to further trips with you as both our ventures with Naturetrek have proved to be exceptionally rich in experiences and enjoyment.
Yet another excellent Naturetrek tour. The group were ably led by Peter & Paul who were not only knowledgeable in bird and botany respectively but also very patient with those of us who were not so knowledgeable. The range of interest amongst the botanists was very broad and Paul made sure that everyone had a share of his attention. The picnic lunches they provided were excellent and much appreciated by all of the group. The meals at the hotel were excellent and they attended to our every need and made us very welcome.
I think we all felt that the tour leaders efforts to make this an enjoyable holiday went beyond the call of duty in respect not only of professional expertise, but also in terms of driving, shopping, food preparation and general welfare. Similarly the hotel, run by a genial and obliging young man and his mother, far exceeded expectations. There was a great variety of main course and side dishes through out the whole week and all of excellent home-made quality!
The owners of the accommodation were extremely pleasant and helpful. The leaders were good company, enthusiastic, helpful and competent.
I very much enjoyed the holiday. As well as seeing lots of wildlife in spectacular surroundings, the leaders and other participants ensured that it was also fun.
Excellent expertise, excellent picnics, excellent weather.
I thought the holiday was fantastic in all aspects. As far as I am concerned it was one of the best holidays I have ever had, and long will the memories stay with me. It was perfect. And both tour leaders should be commended for their hard work and dedication. Super flowers, super birds, fantastic scenery, superb weather, great food and wonderful wildlife and company. Who could ask for anything more. Keep up the great work and I look forward in anticipation to my next trip.
This holiday gave me everything I wanted. The leadership was excellent, with care taken to cater for the various interests and fitness levels of the group. The leaders were prepared to spend more time with the clients than might be expected. They were enthusiastic and knowledgeable and were prepared to recognise the varying levels of expertise of the group members and make sure they were included. The leaders should be congratulated.
James was an excellent guide and always made sure that we all got good views of the target birds - he is calm, unassuming and confident in his work. Toby always made sure that the birders saw any special plants, even to the extent of back-tracking for one tiny specimen in a huge expanse of what looked, to me, similar vegetation! Well done to them both!
A fantastic holiday due in no small part to the efforts of the leaders, who put themselves out to ensure that everyone got as much as possible from the holiday. It worked very well having two leaders, allowing for some flexibility in the itinerary to enable people to follow our particular interests. Toby’s lunches were the best picnics I have ever had. The leaders were knowledgeable and approachable. James took a lot of trouble to make sure that everyone got good views of the birds and his enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring. The hotel was very welcoming. The food was great and nothing was too much trouble.
M C.
I have taken four trips with Naturetrek and found them all excellent.
Show all details | Hide all details


Fri 12th April 2019 - Sat 20th April 2019



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Greece

Detailed tour map

Tour Downloads

View itinerary
View tour reports +

Can I help You?

Andy Tucker
Operations Manager

Email Andy

01962 733051

Tour Focus

Wild flowers

Tour Reviews

Paul Harmes was an excellent leader. He encouraged us to look in his scope at the birds and told us all about them - it was very exciting to see the citrine wagtail, the golden oriole and the roller. He had a wide knowledge of natural history and could answer all our questions whether it was about flora, lizards or butterflies and we walked in beautiful countryside. He balanced all the interests of the group and was open to suggestions from the group when we asked if we could visit the Temple of Hera. He went out of his way to help us and he took us to the Temple on the way to the airport on the last day. It was absolutely fascinating and I saw a balkan green lizard there too!
J.C., Herefordshire