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Tour Details

Dates:7th of Apr - 14th of Apr 2025
Availability:SOLD OUTGuaranteed departure
Group Size:Minimum 4, maximum 12
Grading:Easy day walks
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

  • Exploring the compact island of Rhodes, home to a variety of habitat types supporting many orchid species, in mild spring weather
  • We will expect to see 40-50 species of orchid during the holiday, and in profuse numbers
  • Amongst these will be a number of endemic or regional specialities, including Ophrys colossaea, Ophrys regis-fernandii, Ophrys cretica ssp. beloniae, Ophrys attaviria, Ophrys lucis, Ophrys oreas, Ophrys reinholdii and many more besides
  • The island will be bursting with other spring flowers, including Rhodes Peony Paeonia clusii ssp. rhodia, Rhodes Fritillary Fritillaria rhodia, Rhodes Bellflower Campanula rhodensis, and the spectacular Dragon Arum Dranunculus vulgaris
  • A donation will be made to the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, supporting proactive research and conservation

Tour Description

How better to break the chilly monotony of a long northern hemisphere winter than to journey to a sun-drenched Greek island? Springtime comes early to Rhodes, the capital of the Dodecanese Islands of the south-eastern Aegean, and the island comes alive with an abundance of wildflowers. Everywhere we go will be bathed with vibrant colour, and foremost amongst this cornucopia of flowers will be the orchids.

Rhodes is the perfect island upon which to indulge in an unashamed orchid-hunt. Home to some 50 species of orchid, we will hope to find in the region of 40 of those in the space of our week exploring the island. Our tour here is timed to coincide with the ‘Goldilocks’ moment in their flowering period – the moment when most species burst into flower, but with the chance of adding late-flowering examples of the earliest species like Fan-lipped Orchid Anacamptis collina, and early-flowering examples of the species that usually flower later in the spring, like Violet Limodore Limodorum abortivum and uncommon, subtle Serapias politsii tongue-orchids.

After years of exploring the island, our knowledge of its orchid hot-spots is intimate – to the point where we know some special orchids as individuals. This means that, in addition to the wide range of species we’ll see during the week, we will also be sharing with our guests some exquisite orchid hybrids and colour varieties that we’ve located on recent tours.

The jewels in Rhodes’ orchid crown have to be the Ophrys bee orchids, and we’ll see many examples of their varied kind during the week, including sought-after species such as Ophrys colossaea, Ophrys regis-ferdinandii, Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys cretica ssp. beloniae, Ophrys rhodia, Ophrys attaviria, Ophrys persephone, Ophrys lucis, Ophrys oreas, and more besides. Many of their names feature in the geography, history and mythology of the region, a heritage as colourful as the flowers themselves.

Our base for the week is at a friendly, family-run small hotel in the centre of the island, in a traditional village nestling on the lower flanks of Mount Attavyros, the island’s highest mountain. Here we will find myriad orchids within a couple of minutes’ walk of our hotel, growing on the terraces of ancient olive groves. Most importantly, we will be well-fed all week by Mama’s wonderful Greek cookery. The breakfasts alone are a feast… and the evening meals, after a day packed with orchids, are a delight.

The hotel’s location means that we are ideally placed to explore the island, with nowhere much more than an hour’s drive away from our base. The roads are all of good quality, and very quiet – indeed, many orchids thrive on the roadside verges and banks, so we may have to make the occasional pit-stop to enjoy those too - these spontaneous roadside stops at promising locations can be extremely rewarding, like the occasion when we found a totally unexpected Ophrys basilissa amongst hordes of Ophrys reinholdii!

The island, whilst compact, supports a good range of habitats, ranging from olive groves to dry phrygana, and forested mountainsides to coastal river valleys. Access to the sites we visit is easy, and the pace of each day will be relaxed and easy-going. Make sure you bring plenty of memory cards for your camera, as the opportunities for orchid photography are endless…

We won’t neglect the other wildflowers we encounter, and look forward to sharing some of the island’s particular botanical highlights. We’ll encounter the foul-smelling magnificence of towering Dragon Arums Dranunculus vulgaris, and the sweetly-perfumed Rhodes Peony Paeonia clusii ssp. rhodia. We’ll admire the delicacy of buttery yellow Rhodes Fritillaries Fritillaria rhodia, mauve Small Rhodian Bellflowers Campanula rhodensis, icy-white Rhodes Cyclamen Cyclamen rhodium, and many more besides. We may, however, get distracted by Eastern Festoon Zerynthia cerisy and Eastern Dappled White Euchloe ausonia butterflies, Karpathos Frogs Rana cerigensis, or the display flights of Short-toed Eagles Circaetus gallicus – there’s so much to see here at this wonderful time of year, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

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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Richard is a father of three, botanist, photographer and wildlife tour guide based near the South Lakes. His particular interest is in orchids, and this has led him to develop an expertise in the species of Britain and Europe.

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Tour Location


Tour Itinerary

  • DAY 1

Meet at Rhodes airport

and transfer to our hotel on the gentle slopes of Mount Attaviros. After we’re checked in, and have enjoyed lunch, we’ll set out on foot to explore the orchid-rich countryside on our very doorstep.

  • DAY 2

Mount Attaviros.

There is a road that wends its way up the highest mountain on the island, which makes our life easy today – we will gradually work our way up the mountain, using our vehicles to gain altitude, and exploring different elevations on foot as we go. Targets include: Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys dodekanensis, Ophrys omegaifera, Orchis anatolica, Ophrys ferrum-equinuum and Ophrys candica.

  • DAY 3

Southern Rhodes coastal sites.

Today we’ll explore various habitats in the south of the island, including phrygana and sandy substrates. Targets: Oprhys regis-ferdinandii, Ophrys cretica ssp. beloniae, Ophrys parvula, Ophrys iricolor, Serapias carica, Serapias parviflora, Ophrys halia and Ophrys cornutula. We will also encounter our first endemic Fritillaria rhodia and Campanula rhodensis.

  • DAY 4

Windmill hill.

Today takes up another mountain, again with easy road access that allows us to explore habitat that would otherwise require hours of arduous trekking. Instead we will drive straight to the heart of an orchid wonderland, which we can then explore on foot. Targets: Ophrys tenthredinifera, Ophrys phryganae, Ophrys bombyliflora, Ophrys oreas, Ophrys sitiaca, Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Orchis anatolica, Orchis provincialis, and Anacamptis papilionacea. We will also make a stop en route to check a site for Ophrys speculum, and the possibility of early examples of Anacamptis sancta, and late examples of Anacamptis collina.

  • DAY 5

Lindos area.

Crossing the island to the southeast coast, today will focus on exploring olive groves both ancient and more recent, and the orchid flora they support. Targets: Ophrys colossaea, Ophrys rhodia, Ophrys calypso, Ophrys polyxo, Ophrys blitopertha, Ophrys attaviria, Serapias bergonii and Serapias carica.

  • DAY 6

Profitis Ilias.

Another mountain, a well-forested one with a network of small roads and footpaths that make its exploration a pleasure. The ground beneath the trees, and the numerous rocky outcrops, support a new plethora of orchid species. Targets: Neotinea lactea, Ophrys cinereophila, Ophrys persephone, Ophrys lucis, Neotinea maculata, Anacamptis picta. Here we may also find Eastern Festoon on the wing, and abundant anemone and cyclamen flowers carpeting the forest floor.

  • DAY 7

River Gadouras area.

The countryside around the flanks of the Gadouras hides some marvellous orchid species, and we’ll be looking for treasure here. Targets: Limodorum abortivum, including the scarce pink var. rubrum; Orchis italica, Ophrys cornutula, Ophrys persephone, Anacamptis laxiflora, Serapias bergonii, and Neotinea maculata.

  • DAY 8

Depart Mt.Attaviros, and transfer to Rhodes airport.

If time permits, we’ll stop en route to visit a good orchid site or two.

As with all of our tours, we want our guests to enjoy the very best views of the very best wildlife and, as such, we think it’s important to retain a little flexibility in the holiday itinerary. This means that we may choose to swap days around to take into account local weather conditions, or the timing of the flight or flowering season we find upon arrival at our holiday destination. Rest assured, we will ensure you visit all the best sites, and we have your best interests and comfort at heart!


  • Steph J
    Orchids of Rhodes, what can I say? It delivered everything that was promised and so much more! An amazing week of great food, great tour leaders (Jon and Richard) and orchids, orchids and more orchids! The week was extremely well planned with a good variety of locations to see the target species and more besides, and I couldn't have wished for a nicer group of fellow tour guests! I would not hesitate to book with Mariposa Nature Tours again.
  • Rosie Y
    My spring trip to Rhodes with Mariposa was a total delight, I’m so pleased I booked. We were treated to a huge number of orchid species with guides who were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and great company too. We stayed in a lovely, comfortable hotel, the food was local and delicious. You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve booked to see Orchids in Cyprus with Mariposa next spring!
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