Cavo Sidero

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Cavo Sidero is the Northeastern tip of Crete.  The place is wild and beautiful.  The coast is lined by dramatic, rugged wind-swept cliffs with boisterous waves.  At the tip of the thin peninsula, there is a French-built lighthouse.  The area is also known as Agios Isidoros after the dedication of a church once built here by a monk who had battled the waves in a perilous journey.  The church was his gift of gratitude, having survived after being adrift for many days.

There are also the remains of an ancient temple to goddess Athena, which was destroyed by an ancient tsunami that followed a volcanic eruption in Santorini.  Testament to the trecherous sea on this side of Crete, there are the sunken remains of several shipwrecks, which can be seen from time to time and seem like beached whales.

On the hills and mountains, the land is rather barren mostly due to the winds. But precisely because of the harsh conditions, there are some wonderful rare plants.  The area is protected by the Natura 2000 programme.  Even if the land is arid, it is dotted with bushes of aromatic herbs like thyme, sage and marjoram.  There are also olive trees (now still full of darkening olives).    In this area, there are eagles, vultures and falcons to be seen if you are a keen and patient watcher.

In the east, there is a palm grove beach, Vai, which is very popular with tourists.  The palm trees in this area (Phoenix theophrastii) are native to Crete, and found mainly in Vai and Preveli (see The Palm Beach of Preveli, earlier in this blog).  Sadly, the palms in Vai are suffering from an invasion of red palm weevils, an insect plague which is munching them away.   Notwithstanding the plague, the beach at Vai is beautiful and at particular times of year, there are migratory birds to be seen here.  Even flamingoes, I’m told, but I’ve missed them this time…

The area is close to the airport in Sitia, and it is likely that it won’t remain virgin territory anymore.  A court has awarded a development company the right to build up the area.  There will be resorts and golf courses, and apparently a commitment to manage the area sustainably so as not to lose its biodiversity.

If you are keen on visiting this beautiful area and admiring its natural beauty, come quickly!  Contact Karma Travel to organise your trip.  They’ll sort out your transportation and tell you about the most beautiful spots for birdwatching. If you come in the spring, there will be wild and beautiful flowers to be seen.  A local guide will be most useful, and Karma Travel can find one for you.

Chrissi Island

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I heard of a beautiful beach with rolling white sand beaches and sand dunes sprinkled with purple shells, which would make a gorgeous retreat for a romantic getaway, and the description tempted me.

This time, I was not looking for romance, but wanted to go and explore. Chrissi Island has a wide variety of marine wildlife,  so I was keen to go and watch. It is said that around 54 different species of fossils can be found here, too, if you are keen on snorkelling. The fossils are trapped in volcanic rocks under the sea, and the opportunity to go underwater was unmissable.

From the moment you set foot in Chrissi, you will be mesmerized by the gorgeous scenery, with mountains covered in cedars as a backdrop to the golden sand and the light aquamarine water. You may decide to walk in the woods around the island, or choose to swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters. I chose to do both. Regardless of your choice, I must say that, the soft smell of cedar and the fresh oxygen will give you a sense of liberation, like you’ve left your ordinary world far behind. Luckily, this little paradise of an island is protected. Chrissi is protected by the Natura 2000 Programme, as an ‘area of intense natural beauty’, and has been designated as a wildlife refuge.

If you want to visit this gorgeous place, contact Karma Travel! From mid-May till late October, they will be able to book you on an excursion to this uninhabited island.

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