Tour Details

Dates:1st of Mar - 8th of Mar 2024
Group Size:Minimum 4, maximum 12
Grading:Easy to moderate
PricesFull price: £1,425.00 / person Single room supplement: £150.00 / person Deposit: £150.00 / person
Price includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transportation, services of your guides, and a holiday report
Not included: International travel, drinks and other personal items, holiday insurance

Tour Highlights

  • The opportunity to see some endemic and near-endemic orchids, including Ophrys kotschyi and Orchis troodi
  • A host of other orchids and wildflowers on the edge of their primarily Asian range, including Orchis punctulata
  • A varied range of other possible wildlife highlights - Paphos Blue, Finsch's Wheatear, Black Francolin & Blunt-nosed Viper

Tour Description

Cyprus, sitting on the cusp of Europe and Asia, is a botanical wonderland early in the year. Bathed in warm sunshine, wildflowers bloom in abundance and, amongst them, we will encounter swathes of orchids.

The geology and geography of the island is varied, and this manifests itself in botanical diversity at every turn. We’ll explore a myriad of habitats – in the lowlands we’ll wander colourful meadows and olive groves; we’ll explore dry maquis and pine forests; tread carefully over limestone pavements; and we’ll head up into the Troodos Mountains, and down to the salt lakes of Larnaca.

We’ll search for a unique assemblage of orchids, with some endemic and near endemic species amongst them. Our principal targets will include the highly prized and beautiful endemic Ophrys kotschyi, the richly coloured Orchis punctulata, and subtle Orchis troodi. For those of us used to spring in Britain being ushered in by carpets of bluebells, the Cypriot equivalent will be a pleasant surprise – we’ll find ourselves walking in woodlands carpeted with the delicate mauve of Anacamptis syriaca.

This abundance will be repeated with many other species – in western Europe we may be accustomed to encountering Ophrys orchids sparingly, but in some cases here in Cyprus they’re positively numerous – we should find hosts of Ophrys mammosa, and will have fun examining them in detail to find some of their close relatives.

Our comfortable hotel has its own unique charms from a naturalist’s perspective, not least that Black Francolin can be heard from the rooms and the breakfast terrace! While we visit the island before the main thrust of spring migration is under way, we’ll be keeping a close eye out for birds and other wildlife too – we’ll certainly see the endemic Paphos Blue butterfly and, if we’re lucky, we may even encounter from a respectful distance one of Europe’s more dramatic snakes, the impressive Blunt-nosed Viper Macrovipera lebetinus ssp lebetinus; and we’ll be sure to visit a wintering site for one of Europe’s harder-to-come-by wheatears, Finsch’s Wheatear Oenanthe finschii.

This gentle-paced tour is primarily about orchids, but features a host of other points of interest, of natural and cultural history alike.

Tour Leaders

Jon is a natural history writer, photographer and experienced wildlife tour leader based in the Shetland Isles, but with strong links in Europe and the Americas that see him travelling widely in search of memorable wildlife encounters.

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For as long as he can remember, David has been passionate about birds and wildlife. This has led to a varied career in conservation, mainly working for the RSPB, and leading wildlife tours in Europe and beyond.

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Tour Location


Tour Itinerary

  • DAY 1

Meet at Paphos airport, and transfer to our hotel Latchi.

We will make a short stop en-route at a traditional wintering site for Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii in the hope of seeing them before they depart for their Asian breeding grounds.

  • DAY 2

Exploring on foot the countryside around Latchi.

An optional pre-breakfast walk may yield views of Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus in the fields near the hotel - we will certainly hear them daily from our hotel rooms! After breakfast we will set out on foot, taking our picnic lunches with us, for a circular walk that encompasses a variety of habitats, including flower-rich meadows, groves of fruit trees, a sheltered valley, a small abandoned quarry, and an area of coastal limestone pavement. We anticipate a good variety of Ophrys orchids, including O. flavomarginata, O. mammosa and O. morio; Serapias aphrodite tongue orchids; and one of the most impressive of all the orchids to be found in Europe, the richly yellow-flowered and large spikes of Orchis punctulata. We expect to see our first endemic Paphos Blue Glaucopsyche paphos butterflies posing nicely for us, and also hope to find Eastern Festoon Zerynthia cerisy.

  • DAY 3

Akrotiri Peninsula.

One of our principle targets this week is the dramatic Cypriot endemic Ophrys kotschyi, a striking almost black and white-flowered orchid. We will head to a good location for it in the morning - the logic here being that, if it's not yet at its best, we can return here on the final day available to us. There will, however, be plenty of other orchids besides in this area - we expect abundant Ophrys of as many as eight further species, our first of many Anacamptis syriaca, and Serapias bergonii. The area is also a birding hotspot centred around the adjacent salt lake, and we will make good use of the various vantage points around its shores to look for waterbirds.

  • DAY 4

Akamas Peninsula.

A more local day again today, during which we will explore the abundant orchid treasures to be found on the Akamas Peninsula. This extensive and botanically rich area of pine forest is intersected by tracks and clearings, and we will find carpets of Anacamptis syriaca here in various colour iterations, patches of Dactylorhiza romana, and many more Ophrys species including more that will be new to us - O. bornmuelleri, O. lapethica, and O. israelitica amongst others - and good colonies of Orchis sezekiana.

  • DAY 5

Paphos Forest.

Working our way gradually uphill as the day unfolds, we will make stops at different elevations to look for orchids and other wildflowers, birds, and other wildlife besides. We may encounter Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus and Chukar Alectoris chukar at lower levels, viewed from meadows painted scarlet with Anemone coronaria. We will see abundant Starred Agama Laudakia stellio that, with patience, will pose nicely for portraits. Higher still, in addition to a more montane flora, we should find our first Orchis troodi.

  • DAY 6

Episkopis and Peyia Forest.

In the morning we will spend some time at a different habitat type to those encountered hitherto, a hillside cloaked in dry phrygana vegetation. Here we will see still more new Ophrys, including O. iricolor, and perhaps our first Naked Man Orchid Orchis italica. Lunch will be had in the shade of the Peyia Forest, with orchids to distract us from our picnics. We will spend the afternoon exploring the tracks and pathways that intersect this delightful forest, which at this time of year should be carpeted with many orchids of diverse species.

  • DAY 7

Akrotiri Peninsula / past glories / new sites.

Depending on our success earlier in the week, we have built in the flexibility to return to Akrotiri for another go at Cyprus's most important and dramatic orchid species, Ophrys kotschyi. If we saw it well a week earlier, we may still elect to return for second-helpings! Or we can return to one or more of our favourite sites from the week or, indeed, try some new sites altogether. If there's one thing we orchid-hunters love, it's finding new sites for lovely things!

  • DAY 8

Return to Paphos airport

and tour concludes.

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