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Peter Lilja - Crete II

June 28th, 2009 Posted in Southern Europe, Uncategorized

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If you travel to Crete in early april and want to see flowers, make a mental note for these two names - Spili and Omalos Plateau.
Spili is a large and prosperous village with numerous tourist shops and provision shops, tavernas and rooms to let. I rented a room and asked the owner about good spots for flowers around the village and he pointed out some really nice ones.
There is one place just behind Spili called the “orchid hill”; on this small hill around 22 different species of orchids are found. And the hill was living up to its name because there were masses of Man and Naked Man Orchids (Orchis italica), Sparsely-flowering Orchids (Orchis Pauciflora) and also (Ophrys quadripunctata) on the rocky ledges. In the meadows I found a lot of Barbary Nuts (Gynandriris sisyrinchium) and also beautiful red Tulips (Tulipa doerfleri).
After an evening and an early morning with nice morning light it was time to move on further west.

Crete has some gorges and Samaria is the mostly visited one and Crete’s pride, but there is some smaller also. Imbros is really well worth seeing. It may be small but it is very picturesque, full of wildness and very green.
After some hours on curvy mountain roads I arrived to Imbros after a short visit in the village called Chora Sfakion, which is a coastal village located on the Southwestern coast.  The Imbros ravine begins from the last houses of the village and 8 km after it ends at the village of Komitades. Its crossing is smooth and entails no danger. It is easy to access even for those who are not used to long walks. It is accessible throughout the year unless it rains or snows hard. Its entrance is smooth with cypress trees, Holm oaks, wild fig trees and wild almond trees. After a while the landscape becomes rocky, and there are many cypress trees and flowers. As in all Sfakian ravines, it became a refuge for Christians during the Turkish occupation, and a base for revolutionists. For me the Imbros gorge was a wonderful place to take landscape- and plant photos at.

I spent the night in a small fishing village called Kolimbari, which is small, unspoilt and situated on the north west side of the Island. I captured the sunrise over the Chanion Gulf and started to drive south to Elafonissi.
Here on the west side there is a lot more green landscape compared with the east side and the road passes a lot of small mountain villages. I found some new flower species on my way. At Elafonissi it was quite windy and difficult to capture plants but it is a great place and a lot of people visit the beach with the turquoise water. I stayed for a while and took some landscape pictures.

On the way back I drove on the coastal road and passed some small villages; this road has a lot of nice landscape scenery. I stayed at Falassarna, which is a really beautiful place. This beach on the west side is also a good place for orchids, especially up on the olive tree slopes. I had a wonderful evening with nice light and dark, heavy clouds in the sky and in the morning I continued my trip heading towards Omalos.

From Chania it’s quite near to Omalos Plateu. When you drive that road in late April it is the colours and scent from Crete’s orange trees and lemon trees that dominate the area. It’s a real shame that smell can’t be transferred over the Internet but maybe in the future. :-)

Anyway, I arrived at the Plain of Omalos and it´s very flat and ringed round with mountains. A strange, barren place with grey hills grazed practically bare by vast herds of sheep and goats. Luckily some areas were fenced, and inside these the ground was unspoilt with a lot of flowers and masses of Tulips.

I was crawling around on the ground with my camera and my Gitzo tripod and I wondered what the Cretan shepherds thought about me, that crazy Swede.
I got some nice tulip images on Tulipa Bakery (Tulipa bakery), and there were a lot of Poppy Anemones  (Anemone coronaria) also. After some more days it was time to return to Sweden and start the editing of my images, but I will return some day.

Thanks to Caroline Edelstam and Staffan Widstrand for sharing your information about nice spots for plant photography.

Peter Lilja

Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.

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  1. 5 Responses to “Peter Lilja - Crete II”

  2. By Staffan Widstrand on Jun 29, 2009

    wonderful shots Peter!
    April is the right time for Crete.
    And Peter was the right man for Crete.


  3. By maurizio biancarelli on Jun 29, 2009

    Hello Peter

    nice to see your beautiful images and read your report, I can also picture the smell of hundreds of orange and lemon trees along the roads of this wonderful island.


    Maurizio Biancarelli

  4. By shalini on Jul 13, 2009

    good snaps

  5. By Thea Muller on May 14, 2010

    I tumbled onto your pictures this morning on my search for perfect pictures to publish it on the internet where I am publishing my poems and I wanted to now if I could use one of this photo’s in this series…
    It is the most amazing photo’s I have ever seen.
    I am a South African poet and each of your pictures are worthy of a poem…
    Smile…or even collaborating with you on some more of your work…
    I am extremely impessed.


  6. By Dionysus on Aug 2, 2010

    More excellent photos!

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