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Birdwatch by Bike

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 10 - 16 people
Destination(s): Greece  
Specialty Categories: Birdwatching   Bicycle Touring  
Season: May
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2210 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2210 Euro (EUR)

This easygoing bicycle ride passes through tranquil lagoons, intoxicating stretches of beach front and unspoiled mountain and countryside villages. Riders choose this tour for its spectacular birdwatching accompanied by leisurely pedaling amidst ravishing scenery.

The total number of bird species recorded in the region is over 300, an astounding concentration for such a small area in the Western Palaearctic region. We expect to see the following birds, among others: Flamingo, Herons (Grey h., squacco h., night h., purple h.), Egrets (great white and little), Pelicans (Dalmatian and white), storks (blacks and whites), Cormorants and shags, Spoonbill, Little Stint, Avocet, Glossy Ibis (quite rare), Golden Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle (rare), Egyptian vulture, Griffon vulture, Spotted eagle, lesser kestrel.

Day 1: Ioannina.

We arrive in Ioannina, the largest city and capital of Epirus, one of the most handsome cities of Greece. It is built around Pamvotida Lake with fabulous views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. The combination of the city’s proximity to lake, mountains and forests, as well as the many open areas, old houses, tree lines and the castle make Ioannina one of the richest areas for urban birdlife in the country. Our welcome dinner takes place on the small island in the middle of Pamvotida Lake under the mournful calls of the scops owl.

Day 2: Ioannina.

We stay in and around Ioannina today. Apart from the waders, you will be delighted to observe the breeding lesser kestrel population that exists in town. We set out early morning for leisurely cycling and birdwatching around Pamvotida Lake. Our lunch stop at an outdoor lake taverna provides exceptional views of the lake. We continue pedaling to reach the castle top by dusk, a strategic point from which to observe numerous birds, notably lesser kestrels, as they head for their favorite night perches. Total: 24 km, 15 miles.

Day 3: Preveza.

Today we have a one hour transfer to the mighty Amvrakikos Gulf, the chief wetland of Western Greece and one of the major wintering grounds of waterfowl in Eastern Mediterranean with concentrations of more than 100,000 birds including large colonies of both Dalmatian and white pelicans. We visit the information center and observation tower while cycling at a moderate pace around Logarou, Tsoukalio and Rodia lagoons and stopping for lunch in the charming village of Koronissia. A local boat ferries us across the Louros River to the picturesque seaside town of Preveza where we spend the night. Total: 51 km, 32 miles.

Day 4: Lefkada.

Our day begins with an early crossing of the narrow isthmus, the mouth of Amvrakikos Gulf, to the opposite side of Lakes Saltini and Voulkaria. This is an outstanding birdwatching spot for waders, as well as cliff nesting raptors due to the proximity to their favorite mountain haunts. Keep a sharp eye on the nearby Akarnanika Mountains because they are one of the few places in mainland Greece where the rare griffon vulture breeds. We then have lunch in Palairos, a picturesque small town overlooking the Ionian Sea, and a carefree ride to Lefkada before dusk. Total: 50 km, 32 miles.

Day 5: Lefkada free day.

Lefkadians believe that Odysseus hailed from their island. Spend your day either birdwatching in the nearby lagoons and salt pans just several kilometers away or there are plenty of fine sandy beaches for swimming in the deep blue sea, especially near Nydri. Although Aristotle Onassis’ erstwhile private island, Skorpios, is inaccessible, swim is allowed from one of its beaches. A 14th century Venetian fortress, initially erected by the Crusaders, and an old monastery with splendid views are worth visiting.

Day 6: Parga.

From Mesopotamos, we cycle to the Aheron River delta near Ammoudia where we tour the intriguing ruins of Nekromanteion, site of the ancient oracle for the dead. Myth has it that here, where the Aheron River squeezes through narrow stone walls, was the sacred entrance for souls passing to heaven or hell. Back on our bikes, we ascend up to the picturesque horseshoe shaped twin mountains of Paramythia and Souli. From these altitudes, we are blessed with incredible views of soaring golden eagles and possibly griffon vultures, and pristine mountain villages. On resplendent backcountry roads we reach tiny Lake Morfi before halting for the night in pretty Parga. Total: 65 km, 40.5 miles.

Day 7: Ioannina.

Transfer to Igoumenitsa. We cycle to the second birdwatching hotspot of our trip, the lagoons of the mighty Kalamas Delta. Apart from the plentiful waterfowl and songbirds, the area is considered the mecca for Eastern Imperial eagles in Greece. The Kalamas Delta has by far the most recorded sightings in all of Greece of this extremely rare and magnificent raptor. We continue cycling to the most northwestern point in Greece, the seashore village of Sagiada, a breath away from Albania. The route follows peaceful beaches, hills, plains and lagoons. At Mavroudi, our vehicle awaits us for the one hour transfer to Ioannina. At our farewell dinner, we merrily drink a glass or two of local tsipouro in commemoration of our success in spotting not only many birds, but so many exquisite and rare ones as well. Total: 50 kilometers, 32 miles.

Day 8: Departure from Ioannina airport.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Accommodations
- All dinners with local house wine. All breakfasts. Some lunches depending on the tour.
- All domestic land and sea transportation from tour's designated starting point to tour's end point.
- Transfers to/from the airport
- Lightweight, triple chain ring Road Bike or Hybrid Bike depending on the tour. All bikes come with odometer, 2 water bottles and cages, map holder, rear rack on request.
- An experienced local guide
- A support vehicle ("sag wagon") with driver, snacks, ice cooler, first aid kit, bike tools and spare parts, floor pump and a lift
- Map of the region with daily, detailed cue sheets
- Entrance fees to major points of interest, such as museums or archaeological sites
- Gratuities, tips and taxes.

Price Excludes:
- Airfare to/from Greece or to designated starting/ending points
- Transfers to/from the airport in non-designated hours.