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Bird Watching in Greece’s Wetlands & Exploring Undiscovered Ancient Sites 

Departure     April 25 – May 5, 2019                  

Few people outside the scientific community are aware of the fact that Greece is home to some of the most important and magnificent wetlands in Europe that harbor a rich biodiversity, including large numbers of bird species and plants.

On this unique and unusual program we will explore several of the most notable wetlands in northern Greece, most of which are on the list of Wetlands of International Importance, and which offer great birdwatching opportunities and an unspoiled ecological environment.

In addition to exploring pristine places and birdwatching, we will also visit important archaeological sites that are rarely seen by travelers to Greece, meet with local conservationists and taste the delicious regional cuisine of the places we will visit.

Why Travel with Thalassa Journeys

Thalassa Journeys was established by the principals and managers of Travel Dynamics, the company that 50 years ago pioneered the concept of educational travel for America’s educational and cultural institutions. The belief that travel is primarily a learning experience forms the core principle of Thalassa Journeys.

Each Thalassa Journey is constructed around a particular theme. Unlike most tours, each of our journeys are intimate, and led by lecturers who are truly subject-matter experts for each theme. Although many other companies claim to have expert lecturers, few truly have accomplished, renowned experts in their fields, like Thalassa.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Depart THE USA

Depart the United States for Athens.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 2 : Tour ATHENS/ALEXANDROUPOLIS, Greece

Arrive in Athens, the capital of Greece, and connect with the flight to Alexandroupolis, in the country’s northeast region of Thrace. Accommodations for the next three nights will be at the Thraki Palace Hotel.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 3 : Tour THE EVROS RIVER DELTA & ANCIENT SITES

The prosperous port town of Alexandroupolis is our gateway to the Evros River Delta, one of Europe’s most important wetlands for birds and plants. Leave the hotel in the morning for this beautiful riverine world, designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Among the more than 300 species of birds recorded here are cormorants, little bitterns, purple herons, black—winged stilts, ruddy shelducks, avocets and collared pratincoles. Rarely seen in other parts of Europe are the lesser white-fronted goose and red-breasted goose. The delta is also home to more than 350 species of plants. Explore and enjoy bird watching. In the afternoon explore ancient Trianoupoli, an important station on the Via Egnatia, and the 12th-century church of Panaghia Kosmosotira, which contains exquisite frescoes.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 4 : Tour DADIA NATIONAL PARK & SOUFLI

Drive to Dadia National Park in the morning, a vast protected deciduous forest that covers the ridges of the Evros Valley. The large diversity of the vegetation and the landscape, along with the fact that the forest is situated along important bird migration routes, endow Dadia with an extremely diverse fauna and flora. But it’s the raptors that are Dadia’s main attraction. Of the 38 species of Europe’s birds of prey, 36 are found in Dadia. They include eagles, buzzards, falcons, hawks and black vultures. Dadia is one of only two places in Europe where the magnificent black vulture can be seen. After spending time and observing the bird life, stop at the nearby quaint village of Soufli, which, during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, was a renowned silk center. The Folk and Silk Museum chronicles the silk production process.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 5 : Tour ALEXANDROUPOLIS/LAKES ISMARIS &VISTONIS/KAVALA

Leave Alexandroupolis in the morning for Maroneia, an important city from the 8th century BC to the medieval period. After exploring the remains of the city continue to Lake Ismaris, a shallow lake framed by low hills and fronted on one side by a forest of poplar, alder, elm and willow. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded at Ismaris, some of which can be found only here. The lake has an average population of 10,000 birds, among them Dalmatian pelicans, greater flamingoes, herons, pygmy cormorants, ruddy shelducks, whiskered terns, and the rare white-fronted geese and white-headed ducks. Near Ismaris is Lake Vistonis, which boasts over 260 species of birds and is the breeding ground of the purple heron, spoonbill, black-winged stilt and avocet, among others. Thousands of herons, storks and glossy ibis and birds of prey pass through during their annual migrations, stopping at the lake to rest and feed. Continue to the lovely sea-side town of Kavala and check-in at the Hotel Imaret, an Ottoman landmark, built in 1817, converted to an elegant hotel.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 6 : Tour KAVALA/PHILIPPI/KAVALA

Known in antiquity as Neapolis, where St. Paul landed on his way to Philippi, Kavala commands a beautiful position between the sea and a headland that is crowned by a Byzantine citadel. Leave in the morning for nearby Philippi, an important ancient city that was founded by Thracians in 361 BC. Four years later, it was taken over by Philipp II, the father of Alexander the Great. In AD 49 St. Paul spent time in Philippi, where he baptized his first convert on European soil. Explore the site’s extensive remains, and then return to Kavala for an afternoon at leisure. You may wish to visit the Archaeological Museum, which exhibits artifacts from excavations in Kavala and nearby sites.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 7 : Tour THE NESTOS RIVER & ITS DELTA

The Nestos River, worshipped in antiquity as a god, is one of Greece’ major rivers. The river’s delta covers 55,000 hectares and is of great ecological interest due to its great biodiversity. We spend the morning in the delta, home to over 210 species of birds, many of them rare or endangered. This is the only spot in Europe where one can see the rare spur-winged plover nesting. There are also stone curlews, redshanks, terns, oystercatchers, greater flamingoes, collared pratincoles, white storks, black-winged stilts and avocets. After lunch, drive through magnificent scenery to the old town of Xanthi, Visit the atmospheric old town, with its narrow cobbled alleyways and traditional homes and mansions. Two of the mansions have been converted into the excellent Folklore & Historical Museum, which we will also visit. Return to Kavala in the late afternoon.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 8 : Tour KAVALA/AGHIA VARVARA SPRINGS/SERRES

Leave Kavala in the morning and drive to Drama, a lively town, where we explore the springs of Aghia Varvara (St. Barbara), a fine example of a wetland that coexists with its urban surroundings. The area around Drama produces some of Greece’s finest wines. We will visit the impressive Oinogenesis Winery and taste its notable wines. Continue to the city of Serres, an important commercial center in Macedonia, near the border with Bulgaria, set at the foot of mountains and overlooking a fertile plain. En route, stop in an area for birdwatching. Look for calandra larks, black storks and short-toed eagles, among other species. Hotel Elpida Resort and Spa.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 9 : Tour LAKE KERKINI

Serres is our base for exploring Lake Kerkini and observing its abundant bird life. Fed by a river, the lake is considered a national treasure and has been designated a Wetland of International Importance. With its rich riparian forest, extensive marshes and reed beds, Lake Kerkini has one of the most extensive biodiversity of all Greek wetlands. Of the 244 bird species that the lake hosts, 70 are protected by European Union legislation. Rare species such as the white pelican, pygmy cormorant, night heron, Dalmatian pelican, black stork, glossy ibis, and others breed in Lake Kerkini. Our exploration will include a boat ride in the lake to better view its birdlife.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 10 : Tour SERRES/THESSALONIKI

From Serres, drive in the morning to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece and the capital of Macedonia and its commercial and cultural center, named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great. In the afternoon, visit the Greek Biotope – Wetland Center, part of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, to meet with ornithologists, biologists and other scientists and learn of their work in the preservation of Greek wetlands and their wildlife. Hotel Macedonia Palace.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 11 : Tranfser THESSALONIKI/USA

Transfer to the airport for the return flight home.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Tour Price

$5,380 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $690

Journey Extension

Pre Journey Extensions

We are pleased to offer pre– and post– trip extensions to Athens and Thessaloniki. The three–day pre–trip extension to Athens will include visits to the city’s major classical monuments. Also included is a visit to the superb Goulandris Museum of Natural History. RATE: $ 585 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement, $ 210.

Post Journey Extensions

The two–day post–trip extension to Thessaloniki will include the city’s Byzantine churches and other landmark buildings, as well as an excursion to the royal tombs of Vergina. RATE: $ 1,060 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement, $ 330.

Inclusions

Expert Guest Lecturer

Maria Panagiotopoulou

Maria Panagiotopoulou

Maria Panagiotopoulou, is an award winning ornithologist and forester.  The holder of a M. Sc. in Management of Protected Areas from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, and a M. Sc. in Evolutionary Ecology from Sweden’s Lund University, Ms. Panagiotopoulou has conducted research in the wetlands we will visit, and participated in numerous projects and studies in the protection of the wetlands and their biodiversity. Ms. Panagiotopoulou has  published extensively in learned publications.

Call/Email us to book

E-Mail : Reservations@ThalassaJourneys.com

Phone : +1 866.633.3611