Greece is an incredible destination that is famous for the archeological sites, the beautiful beaches, and the delicious food. But not everybody knows that Greece has also very rich and diverse flora and fauna. The natural wonders of Greece are infinite and if you visit this Mediterranean jewel seeking a sustainable, not touristy and unique experience, we recommend you take a tour with the organization Natural Greece. When we took a trip to Athens, we visited the Archelon Turtle Rescue Center and met the owner of Natural Greece. In this article, we will tell you more about our experience with this Eco & Wildlife Tour Operator. Are you ready to learn more about the unique nature and wildlife of Greece?
About Natural Greece
The nature and wildlife of Greece are usually underappreciated. The main goal of Natural Greece is to raise awareness of the natural wonders of Greece, in order to have more people visiting other parts of the country, not only the tourist hotspot islands and at the same time let you support wildlife!
Natural Greece was born in 2013 and since then, they have been offering some of the most incredible expert-led Eco & Wildlife Holidays around the Greek territory. The tours include bird watching, botanical tours, bear tracking and observation, and marine eco-adventures in some of the coolest places in Greece.
The guides of Natural Greece are in possession of great knowledge of their fields. The guides of Natural Greece are in possession of great knowledge of their fields. You can be sure that the guides will be ready to answer all your questions and guarantee that you have the time of your life!
The natural wonders of Greece
Natural Greece has a great selection of tours for different kinds of people. Do you like to hike? Do you love to observe wildlife in action? Would you like to spend some time around the Greek coasts and learn about biodiversity? Let us tell you about some of them!
Lake Kerkini birding breaks holidays and tours
Lake Kerkini is located North of Thessaloniki. The lake is the home of more than 300 species of birds! You can observe them flying around the lake and the nearby area.
If you are a bird lover, you can enjoy the sight of the lake for 4 days and watch the behavior of some of the species during the day or night time. In this lake, the photo that awarded the title of “Bird Photographer of the Year 2019“, to British photographer Carole Steele was shot.
Wild bears observation in northern Pindos
Did you know that you can find bears in Greece! If you take this tour, you will be able to visit the northern Pindos region. The mountain region of Pindos is considered the Amazon of Greece, here you can find peaks over more than 2.000 meters, glacial lakes, alpine meadows, and very unique flora and fauna. At least 500 wild bears move around the region, and you can observe them in their natural habitat.
Greece Sea turtle conservation holiday
Athens, Crete and other islands in Greek territory are the feeding, hatching and nesting area of different sea turtle species. During this Sea turtle conservation holiday in the South of the Peloponnese peninsula, you will be able to take care of the nests and baby turtles as well! With your action, the population of turtles will be able to thrive and grow. During the first day of this holiday, you visit and support the Sea Turtle Rescue Center of Archelon, just like we did!
Our experience with Natural Greece and Archelon
When we planned our trip to Athens, we knew we wanted to explore some not touristy and unusual places. There aren’t many companies that offer eco and sustainable activities in Athens, and fortunately, we found the best one! The Natural Greece tour operator offered us to spend some hours at the Archelon Turtle Rescue Center, and we could not say no.
Archelon, the sea turtle protection society of Greece takes care of the ill and injured turtles. Greece is a very active place, there are a lot of commercial and fishing boats. Unfortunately, they often accidentally hit the turtles, or sadly, sometimes even on purpose. This organization has made the compromise of rescuing all the possible injured turtles, heal them, help them to recover and set them free in the Mediterranean Sea. Let us tell you about our experience in this noble place, and how important their mission is.
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The presence of turtles in Greece
The coasts of Greece are the home of three of the seven species of sea turtles of the world. The Green turtle, the Loggerhead turtle, and the Leatherback turtle use the coasts to eat, whereas the Loggerhead turtles hatch and nest here on a large scale. So it is very probable that if you navigate between Greek waters, you will face one or more of these cute reptiles swimming around.
Turtles don’t nest and eat in the same areas, so these animals are always migrating from one place to another. No matter how far a turtle will travel, they will always come back to the same beach where they nest for the first time. Turtles live most of their life underwater and they just go out to nest. It is during these moments, or when they go to the surface to breathe, that they can be injured by the propels of the boats, or hit by unscrupulous fishermen when they get trapped in the nets.
Waste left by maritime activity such as hooks, plastic ropes, plastic bags, nets and other kinds of objects can be swallowed by the turtles or get embedded in their skin, mouth or eyes injuring them and causing them a long and painful death.
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The history of the Archelon sea turtle protection society
Archelon was founded in 1983, and since then, they have been helping the sea turtles in Greece. They were studying their needs, protecting nests and beaches, rescuing and healing injured turtles and informing the public about the presence of the turtles in the waters. Like that the people became more and more aware of which territories are the living areas of the turtles.
Archelon has a presence not just in Athens, but also in Crete, Kyparissia Bay, and Lakonikos bay. In these areas, Archelon has implemented plans for the restoration of sand dunes in Lakonikos, assists the management of tourism development in Crete and tries to limit artificial lighting on the nesting beaches around.
The main activities of Archelon can be summarized on the next points:
- Protection on nesting beaches
- Housing and tourist developments on the coast and waste management
- Sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation
- Volunteering for conservation
- Through information, public awareness, and environmental education activities
Mission: turtle rescue
In Greek waters, the marine activity doesn’t take a rest, and the possibility of finding injured turtles is possible every day. That is why Archelon has a hotline open to be able to arrive at the scene fast and grow the chances of survival of the turtle in danger.
If you are on vacation or traveling around the area under the protection of Archelon and you find an injured turtle you can take the following steps:
Call the Archelon-Rescue Network at +30 2108944444 or +30 6941511511
Move the turtle to a safe place isolated from people and noise (Remember that the turtles should be taken from the shell, never from the head or the fins). Handle the turtle carefully and be sure that the fins don’t fold, bend or twist.
If the turtle is too big and you need to move it with someone, one person should take it from the front part of the shell and the other one from the back part of the shell
Make sure that the turtle is a safe and restricted area, away from winds and drafts
During summer months, the injured should be cover with a damp and clean cloth.
You should not keep the turtle in the water, it may get drowned!
If the turtle is tangled up in a net or a line, remove it carefully, but if they’re very hard knots or hooks are embedded don’t try to put it out!
Check the flippers of the turtle to search identification tags and save the number for a future reference
Fill up the report that Arquelon will send you. Like this, you will help them to help this and more turtles in the future.
How can you help the Archelon sea turtle protection society of Greece
There are a lot of ways how you can help Archelon to keep strong and active to keep saving turtles. Each of them is important for the conservation of the turtles, so you can choose and be sure that every little action counts. You can:
Donate to Archelon
If you are not traveling to Greece but you would like to help, you can give a monetary donation. It doesn’t matter if it is too much or too little. The money will help Archelon and the team to get materials and equipment for taking care of the turtles. You can be sure that your money will help to keep safe and even save the life of one of the Greek turtles.
Archelon has a lot of programs around the whole of Greece. Volunteers are always needed for the whole year. It doesn’t matter if you can go one or 5 times per week, every second of work is decisive here.
The volunteers enter in contact directly with the turtles, and they learn about how to take care of them always guided by an expert. If you want to volunteer with Arquelon, don’t hesitate to contact them. Click here for more information!
Visit the Sea turtle rescue center in Glyfada beach, Athens
We visited the center in the company of Natural Greece. The rescue center is open every day (Mo-Fri 1 PM-3 PM, Sa-Sun 12 PM- 5 PM), and they welcome visitors and guests. We took a guided tour where a kind worker explained to us everything about the rescue center and the turtles in Greece. Fortunately, when we visited the rescue center in the spring, they did not have so many injured turtles. However, in the summer the number of injured turtles is much, much more.
Archelon is one of the biggest turtle rescue centers in Europe, and their work is essential to keep the turtle population of Greece safe. With your visit, you can support their cause and support local businesses as well.
We hope this article has encouraged you to do something for these noble and cute creatures. Every action or choice – it doesn’t matter how small – can make a big difference.
We absolutely recommend taking an eco-tour with Natural Greece when you visit Athens or other islands in Greece. This way you’re making a sustainable and responsible travel choice, and you not only support the nature and wildlife conservation in Greece but the local communities and businesses as well.