Orchids, wildflowers, mountains and Italian food await!
- Cost: £1,500 per person for 7D/6N (all inclusive from start point to end point)
- Start Point: Pescara, Italy.
- End Point: Bari, Italy.
- Dates: End April to early May, 2018.
- Group Size: 6–8 (smaller groups can be organised at a higher per person cost)
- Bespoke Tour: If you do not wish to join a group tour, we can customise a private trip to fit your dates and interests. Please email us for details and a quote.
Southern Europe is home to a tantalising array of terrestrial orchid species, but the south of Italy is home to the greatest concentrations of species anywhere, the small Gargano Peninsula being home to approximately 65 different species, making it the richest orchid site in Europe, while the wider province of Puglia in which the Gargano is located has over 100 recognised species. Travel with us over the course of a week through the National Parks of Abruzzo, to see alpine meadows in bloom below snow capped mountains, before venturing to the coast where, on the Gargano itself, we explore meadows crowded with numerous wildflowers, including numerous orchid genera like Himantoglossum, Ophrys, Anacamptis, Orchis, Neotinea and Serapias, as well as spectacular scenery and the finest in Italian country table fare.
While findings vary from year to year according to the seasons, one can expect to encounter 25–40 different orchid species in a matter of just days. This lovely itinerary takes in some of central Italy's finest orchid regions—and indeed countryside—and is bound to appeal to nature lovers of all persuasions. Some of the species typically seen include Anacamptis morio, A. coriophora, A. pyramidalis, A. laxiflora, Cephalanthera damasonium, Ophrys apulica, O. bertolonii, O. biscutella, O. bombyliflora, O. corsica, O. holoserica, O. incubacea, O. insectifera, O. lutea, O. sphegodes, O. tenthredinifera, O. lucana, O. oestrifera subsp. montis-gargani, O. promontorii, O. sicula, Orchis purpurea, O. anthropophorum, O. quadripunctata, O. pauciflora, O. papilionacea, O. tridentata, O. simia, Neotinea maculata, Serapias lingua, S. vomeracea, S. longifolia, S. pauciflora, S. orientalis and S. apulica.
Adventure Rating: Relaxing
The itinerary may vary slightly from year to year as flowering at the time of the journey may shift slightly, making some sites better than others in any given year, but as a guide, the itinerary incorporates visits to national parks in Abruzzo and Foggia. For example:
Day 1: Following pick-up in Pescara, we drive to Abruzzo, visiting roadside meadows en route to our accommodation in the Gran Sasso National Park. We overnight at a lodge at the base of the tallest peak in the region.
Day 2: Taking a cable car, we ascend to the alpine zone in search of endemic wildflowers, descending on foot along the trail to the base of the mountain.
Day 3: Travel south to the Gargano Peninsula. In the limited time remaining in the afternoon, we explore Monte Saraceno with its ancient tombs and sweeping views towards the sea. In the evening, we dine at the seaside and enjoy the region's famous typical dishes.
Day 4: Today we visit the herbfields surrounding Monte Sant'Angelo. Lunch is held at a traditional osteria known for its exceptional antipasti, particularly the house ricotta and locally made honey. In the afternoon we visit the Santa Maria di Pulsano Abbey where a cliffside walk presents a different sort of habitat and component plants.
Day 5: Driving along the coast, we visit a number of sites to discover local endemic orchids, with a chance to stop at the seaside for some refreshments. In the afternoon, we make our way back to our accommodation via the Foresta d'Umbra, where shade loving species can be found.
Day 6: We spend much of the day exploring the environs of Monte Sacro, one of the richest orchid sites of the itinerary, with a pause in the middle of the day for some of the excellent local food.
Day 7: We depart in the morning for Bari, where participants can catch departing flights from the early afternoon.
This expedition begins in Pescara, which is served by various airlines including Alitalia and Ryanair. We end at Bari, served by Alitalia, Ryanair, easyjet and British Airways (seasonally). Flights can be easily booked through all major airline websites.