Greece is the country of diversity…Zeus must have hit this area with his hammer, splashing thousand islands in the sea and tearing the mainland into pieces so that the country’s coastline became as long as the one of the whole continent of Africa. This physical multiplicity is increased by a wide gradient of climates, ranging from almost subtropical to truly alpine conditions, as well as by a variety of mountains, hills, and plains, many of which scattered with wetlands. No wonder these conditions have produced an exceptionally rich living nature, in fact the highest biodiversity known in Europe.”  

Dr Luc Hoffmann (1923-2016) 

Co-founder of WWF 

Widely recognized for its cultural heritage and gorgeous islands and beaches, little has been done to promote the immense natural heritage of Greece. A few facts: 

With its thousands of islets, quiet beaches and coastal caves, Greece is the last remaining stronghold for species like the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) and the Eleonora’s falcon (Falco Eleonora) whereas many Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) breed on its beaches.  

The fauna of Greek reptiles is by far the most abundant of Europe, with 59 species including lizards, turtles, geckoes, tortoises and terrapins. Plenty of them are Greek endemics such as the Milos Viper (Macrovipera Schweizeri), the Milos wall lizard (Podarcis milensis) and the Peloponnese Slow worm (Anguis cephalonnica). 

The overall diversity of flora species in Greece is astonishing: some 6000 have been recorded. Which has to do with Greece’s geographical position, its geological history and diversity of climate. Another intriguing fact is the singularity of the flora. The country boasts the highest degree of endemism among plants (15%) in Europe and it is said that there was no need for Darwin to undertake such a long and excessively difficult journey to the Galapagos Islands to proof his point. He simply could have set sail to Greece instead! Let us take you on a much more comfortable journey in search of rare, endemic and delightful plants. Because, even in our times, there is still so much left to explore and observe. 

“Why birding Greece”. Sounds easy? Well… it is easy for me”, writes Dragan Simic in his recent blog article. And he continues: “Why? Because it is there. Because it exists. Cos I love Greece! And that is the problem: while these answers all make perfect sense to me, they do not reveal a single reason why you should consider birding Greece. In order to collect more “why” arguments, I asked members of Facebook groups that are focused on birding Greece, why do they do it? Read more 

Lovers of butterflies visiting Greece feel they have arrived in paradise, a synonym for Arcadia, named after the Greek region in the Peloponnese. And it is right there, that one can find so many different colorful winged wonders of nature. A weeklong search for butterflies, or Rhopalocera can result in a list of over 100 species! Whatever your interest, Greece’s boundless natural beauty will certainly satisfy your needs! 

At Natural Greece our aim is to offer extraordinary nature experiences that:  

  • showcase the country’s rich biodiversity  
  • support nature conservation and  
  • create economic opportunities for the local society.

   

Sustainable tourism practices 

Our vision has always been to make “tourism a tool for nature conservation”. When you travel with us this is achieved in several ways: 

  • as a visitor you raise awareness about the rich biodiversity of the place. More locals see the importance of protecting the natural habitat.
  • Natural Greece collaborates with several Greek nature organizations (NGOs), promoting and actively supporting their cause.
  • on many trips travelers support biodiversity conservation, a donation for a Greek nature organization is included in the tour price. This is the case for our Bear Tours.
  • When touring, interactions with wildlife do not produce adverse effects on the viability and behavior of populations in the wild – any disturbance of natural ecosystems is minimized, and travelers follow up expert advice.
  • Furthermore we offer the option to offset carbon emissions for the trips

The bear tours of Natural Greece are led by experts on bears. This means you will get to know a lot about these large mammals. You also get an insight in bear conservation, learning about research methods like radio-tracking and bear trapping and follow bear tracks. During these trips there is no 100% wild bear watching guarantee (there is a bear watching guarantee because groups visit the bear shelter) because no baiting or other methods are used that will disturb the natural behavior of the animals. Unlike many other bear holidays on offer in other countries. Occasionally travelers will be able to radio-track a bear that is wearing a GPS collar. However, wild bears are never wearing such a collar just to please tourists. It is done for research purposes or for the protection of the animals. 

How you support Bear conservation 

Ever since 2014 Natural Greece travelers on the Bear Tours have supported the work of Greek wildlife charity CALLISTO. During this type of tour you visit the Northern Pindos wilderness area under the expert guidance of a CALLISTO expert on wild bears.  

The team of CALLISTO studies, protects and manages the populations and habitats of large carnivores, bears and wolves and other endangered species of wildlife. They also deal with the challenges posed by the co-existence of man and wildlife. 

In 2017 Natural Greece travellers donated €2.025 to the Bear Emergency Team of CALLISTO! 

The Bear Emergency Team (BET) operates and intervenes whenever a wild animal is hurt or in danger (think vehicle-bear collisions). The team also intervenes when needed in case of interactions between wild animals and humans.

   

Sustainable tourism practices 

Our vision has always been to make “tourism a tool for nature conservation”. When you travel with us this is achieved in several ways: 

  • as a visitor you raise awareness about the rich biodiversity of the place. More locals see the importance of protecting the natural habitat.
  • Natural Greece collaborates with several Greek nature organizations (NGOs), promoting and actively supporting their cause.
  • on many trips travelers support biodiversity conservation, a donation for a Greek nature organization is included in the tour price. This is the case for the Dolphin volunteering holiday.
  • When touring, interactions with wildlife do not produce adverse effects on the viability and behavior of populations in the wild – any disturbance of natural ecosystems is minimized, and travelers follow up expert advice.
  • Furthermore we offer the option to offset carbon emissions for the trips 

In case of the Dolphin Volunteering Holiday there is a dolphin watching guarantee. There are chances of seeing 4 types of cetaceans. Any of these or maybe all 3 species: Striped dolphin, the short-beaked common dolphin and the bottle-nose dolphin. Risso’s dolphin is a rare sighting. You would be very lucky to spot Risso’s dolphin in the Marine Park of Alonissos. 

We have travelers asking us if they can swim with dolphins on this holiday. The answer is no. Plenty of swimming and snorkeling opportunities but no dolphin swimming. This is for 2 reasons:  

  1. Cetaceans in this part of the world tend to be shy and avoid swimming with human beings
  2. We do not consider dolphin swimming to be responsible practice, it alters the natural behavior of the animals and potentially puts them at more risk

How you support dolphin conservation 

  • You will become a conservationist yourself when participating in this project! You act towards the conservation of the dolphin population in the National Marine Park of Alonissos.
     
  • Included in your travel package is a donation to the Greek charity Mom that operates these trips.

Mom/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal is a Greek non-profit organization, founded in 1988 in Athens, Greece. Mom’s aim is the protection of the marine and coastal environment thought the study and protection of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal. They also found out that a lot of data on the dolphin populations in the Aegean Sea is lacking. This is why they started their Dolphin Project back in 2013. The 4 species of cetaceans that can be found in Greek waters are under threat. Your help is needed to obtain knowledge of their behavior and population status and trends.

   

Sustainable tourism practices 

Our vision has always been to make “tourism a tool for nature conservation”. When you travel with us this is achieved in several ways: 

  • as a visitor you raise awareness about the rich biodiversity of the place. More locals see the importance of protecting the natural habitat.
  • Natural Greece collaborates with several Greek nature organizations (NGOs), promoting and actively supporting their cause.
  • on many trips travelers support biodiversity conservation, a donation for a Greek nature organization is included in the tour price. This is the case for both the Greece Eco Volunteering Vacation and the Greece Sea Turtle Conservation holiday 
  • When touring, interactions with wildlife do not produce adverse effects on the viability and behavior of populations in the wild – any disturbance of natural ecosystems is minimized, and travelers follow up expert advice.
  • Furthermore we offer the option to offset carbon emissions for the trips

Both the Greece Eco Volunteering Vacation and the Greece Sea Turtle Conservation holiday are organized in collaboration with the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece ARCHELON.  

The first holiday takes place in the Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Glyfada. This is the coastal area south of Athens. The second holiday takes place on the sandy beaches of the Peloponnese, where sea turtles have their nests. In both instances the volunteers will be closely monitored by the Archelon team. The wellbeing of the animals and research activities are at the core of the Archelon policy.   

How you support sea turtle conservation 

  • By volunteering in either the Sea Turtle Rescue Center (Participants of the (Greece Eco Volunteering Vacation) or on the beaches Greece (Sea Turtle Conservation holiday) of ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.
  • By donating to ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece

In 2017 Natural Greece travellers donated €1.650 to Sea Turtle Protection Society ARCHELON! 

Since 1983, the primary objective of ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece has been to protect the sea turtles and their habitats in Greece through monitoring and research, developing and implementing management plans, habitat restoration, raising public awareness and rehabilitating sick and injured turtles.  

Three Sea Turtle species can be regularly found in the Mediterranean (loggerheads – Caretta caretta, green turtles – Chelonia mydas and leatherbacks – Dermochelys coriacea). Of these three only the loggerhead sea turtle nests in Greece. Greece is a very important country for these species, many nest on its beaches. In 2016 the region with the largest number of nests was found on the Peloponnese! The most serious threats to loggerheads in the Mediterranean are tourist development of nesting beaches and incidental catch in fishing gear.