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Join a unique trip that will allow you to explore beautiful Crete and discover the nature and flavors available in the central part of it. This holiday is a celebration of Cretan nature and all you need in advance is the desire to explore. During your vacation, you will enjoy guided foraging, hiking, and cooking activities; perfect if you are an enthusiast of nature and good food.
The venue for this holiday is a traditionally renovated mansion located in the small and picturesque village of Kamilari. This a large venue with several bedrooms, so you will have the option to share a double room or stay in a private room.
Foraging is the search for wild food. Although it has seen a revival around the world in recent years, foraging has been common throughout the history of Crete, including in recent times. Through drives and walks around the island, you will embark on a group culinary adventure full of flavors, scents, and imagery.
The trip will combine the knowledge from two complementary scientific fields: botany and ethnobotany. Botany will teach you how plants function in their natural environments, while ethnobotany will teach you how people use plants. a scientist will teach you about the biology of plants, as well as their uses in Crete and other places.
Although there is a schedule in order to help you experience a diversity of scents, flavors, and images, the pace will be leisurely. Forage Crete appreciates you are on holiday and wants you to relax and have fun.
Today, you will meet the group at 10:00 and check into your room. In the morning, you will have a relaxed walk around the village, visiting important historical and cultural local landmarks and learning about some of the edible and medicinal plants in the area, followed by an authentic Cretan lunch prepared locally in the village.
In the afternoon, you will prepare herb salts from the fresh herbs you will have collected; you can take these home with you at the end of the trip. In the evening, a traditional dinner will be served at the settlement of Eleonas, at around 20:30.
This morning, you will leave at 09:30 to visit the Rouvas forest, where you will gather local wild greens and herbs. After a quick stop at the venue, you will spend the late afternoon relaxing, swimming, and strolling on the beautiful Komo beach. Following an evening rest, at 19:00, you will start cooking the food you have gathered together. Dinner will be served around 20:30.
In the morning, you will visit the lake of Zaros and follow a stunning trail into the mountain, where you will forage wild greens. Then, you will have lunch at a local restaurant that offers several foraged foods. You will return to the venue at 15:00. This afternoon will be free and you will start cooking at 19:30, with dinner being served around 21:00.
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast before leaving the venue around 11:00. You will then head to a local organic winery for a wine tasting accompanied by a light lunch until 14:00. Afterwards, return to Heraklion and say goodbye.
Haris was born on Crete, where he spent the first 18 years of his life roaming in nature. It was during that time that he was first exposed to foraging by his family. He then went on to study biology with a focus on botany. Drawing from his scientific expertise in plant biology and how people use plants, Haris' newfound passion is now teaching people about the outstanding biodiversity of Crete and its wild food resources. He enjoys cooking and eating them too!
Up the rugged heart of Psiloritis Mountain, at its southeastern slopes, hides one of the most beautiful Cretan forests. If you are already familiar with the rough landscape of the specific mountain, you will wonder where this forest hides. On the other hand, you should know that the ancient name of Psiloritis Mountain is Idi, which means forested mountain.
Indeed, evidence suggests that once upon a time Crete was covered in forests, and in Minoan times, Idi was a green mountain. In your days, however, you have to search the remains of its greener past in some of its most remote corners.
The entire route is fascinating, with interchanging landscapes and striking views to the sea at some points. When you climb up the road, you will see the valley of Messara spreading until your gaze reaches the summits of Asterousia, the Libyan Sea, and the island of Paximadia.
When you enter the forest, the scenery dramatically changes. As you drive within a hole in the mountain, the surrounding slopes are filled with kermes oaks, Cretan zelkovas, and maple trees that turn golden and red in autumn.
In the south of Crete, in the Messara region, is the village of Kamilari; located 67 kilometers from the island's capital, Heraklion and approximately a 75-minute drive from Heraklion International Airport (HER). The local people make the joke of it being the village on a camel's back. Indeed, the name could come from the fact that it sits on several hills, which give it beautiful views.
You can see the Libyan Sea on one side and the Psiloritis Mountain range, as well as the Asterousia Mountain range on the other. The first thing you will notice about this village are the lovely gardens everywhere. The people here take pride in their village and it is great to walk around and discover this place of winding streets and typical architecture.
Komo is a lengthy stretch of over 2 kilometers long and up to 40 meters wide of deep, golden sand backed by natural dunes and cliffs topped with tamarisk trees. It is also a paradise for naturists and most likely will become an official naturist beach. At the southern end is the Kommos taverna, a short walk away from the famous archaeological site.
The lifeguard is to be found here, near the umbrellas and sunbeds, as well as toilets and a shower. Towards the northern end of the beach, the sea bed is rock shelf, but at the taverna end it is sandy. The sand quality is good and the beach is very clean. If you enjoy snorkeling, there are many fish to be seen.
The excavation of a major Bronze Age site has been ongoing at Kommos since 1976. Kommos first attracted the attention of archaeologists in 1924, when the famous excavator of Knossos, Arthur Evans, heard of large storage vessels being found there. Kommos was in fact a major port, with monumental Minoan palatial buildings, massive stone storage complexes, and a Minoan town.
Post-Minoan remains include a Greek Sanctuary that was active until the Early Roman period, when the site was abandoned. The artefacts discovered there come from as far away as Cyprus, Egypt, and Sardinia.
Kommos is also widely considered to be the best nudist beach on Crete. The naturist section of this beach starts just north of the archaeological ruins and is more than 500 meters long. There is some shade under trees at the back of the beach. There is plenty of room for everyone, even at weekends, and for your further enjoyment, The Cakeman can bring you delicious homemade cakes and coffee while you sit in the sand and watch the waves.
The artificial lake of Zaros or Votomos is located on the southern slopes of Psiloritis, just one kilometer north of Zaros and 45 kilometers southwest of Iraklion. The area was a small wetland before 1987, which was shaped in the crater of Votomos spring. It took its current form in 1987, when the Forest Service created an artificial lake where the spring water is stored.
The water comes from the three springs of Mati, some of the many springs of the region. Zaros, in Greek, means a place with a lot of water. Around the lake, there are several restaurants and cafes where you can relax and taste trout and salmon, which are bred in tanks near the lake.
The lake is also surrounded by a playground, several benches, and tables where you can picnic. A stroll around the lake is very short. Finally, the lake is the starting point of the path that leads, through the gorge of St. Nicholas, to the majestic holly tree forest of Rouvas.
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The food you will be preparing will be vegetarian or vegan. The meals that you will not cook will be served at the venue or at traditional Cretan tavernas. These will offer several traditional vegetarian or vegan options but non-vegetarian meals can also be purchased.
Foraged foods are an integral part of the trip; however, the food you will prepare is not 100% foraged. Although Forage Crete makes every effort to keep the meals they prepare as forage-based as possible, it is not always feasible to forage for every single ingredient. This is due to several reasons. First, depending on the availability of wild food, they might not be able to prepare full meals based only on foraged foods.
Second, several ingredients that have been incorporated into traditional Cretan cuisine, such as tomatoes, rice, and potatoes are not native wild foods. Finally, some ingredients that could be foraged, such as olive oil and flour, would require days' worth of effort to produce.
You can be sure that Forage Crete tries to keep the cooking as self-sufficient as possible. You will prepare some dishes and drinks that are 100% foraged and use local organic ingredients for the rest.
Please book your flight to arrive at Heraklion International Airport (HER). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Forage Crete will pick you up from the airport. The transfer service can be provided from Heraklion at 8 a.m., on day one, and back to Heraklion after the end of the trip, on day four.
Getting to and from Crete may involve coming overland across Greece. For the bus sector of your journey to Crete, you will need to use the local Greek coaches. Coaches in Greece are run by regional collectives, called Kino Tamio Eispraxeon Leoforon or KTEL.
Your ferry from Italy may dock at Patras in the Peloponnese and from there you can take a coach to Athens or a coach to Kalamata or Gythio and then a ferry to Crete via Kythera.
Athens is the more direct route, with more regular coaches and ferries, but there is so much to explore in the Peloponnese and island-hopping from Gythio to Kythera is a great option.
The most traveled sea routes to Crete are from Piraeus (port of Athens) to Chania or Heraklion. The duration of the crossing can be from six to 12 hours and, in summer, there are many different daily ferries to choose from. If you are traveling in any other seasons, it would best to check the schedule.
The main ferry companies for this crossing include Minoan Lines, Anek Lines, and Hellenic Seaways. For up-to-date-information always check with your travel agent or the ferry company directly.
Ferries also travel across the Adriatic into the Ionian from Trieste, Venice, Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi, Italy, into Corfu, Igoumenitsa, and Patras, in Greece. Other Greek islands in the Ionian can also be accessed. Ferry companies include Superfast Ferries, Minoan Lines, Anek Lines, Medlink, Bluestar Ferries, My Way Ferries, and Hellenic Mediterranean Lines.
If you are coming from Athens, ferries leave from Piraeus, the port of Athens, to Chania or Heraklion. The main ferry companies for this crossing include Minoan Lines, Anek Lines, and Hellenic Seaways.
There are also ferries that can take you from Peloponissos to Crete. From Patras, coaches travel to Kalamata, where ferries travel to Crete via Kythera. From mainland Peloponissos, at Gythion and Neapolis, ferries also leave for Kythera and Crete. These ferries arrive in the west of Crete, at the port of Kastelli-Kissamos. Departures are less frequent than from Pireaus; however, you will have the opportunity to see the beautiful Peloponissos.
In the summer, it is possible to island hop to Crete via Milos and Thira (Santorini) with Lane Lines or GA Lines. From Santorini, special fast ferries are scheduled in summer between Santorini, Chania, and Heraklion.
Getting to Greece from Europe by train gives loads of options and flexibility and cheap deals are available from Rail Europe. Getting to and from Crete may involve coming overland across Greece. For the train sector of your journey to Crete, you will need to use the local Greek trains.
Trains in Greece are run by the Hellenic Railways Organisation. Trains linking the port of Patras with Athens, via Corinth, travel along the Bay of Corinth. The journey takes about three hours and 30 minutes. Other trains on this route stop at each town, making the journey much longer. Be sure to check which one you would like whilst planning your trip.
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