The islands of the North Dodecanese are the emergent tips of a sub-sea mountain range that stretches across the Aegean sea. Each one has a subtly different feel from its neighbours, a variety expressed in their cuisines and their architecture, but above all in their landscapes and vivid histories. Viewing them from the deck of your gulet as you cruise between these islands with a perfectly chilled glass of wine in hand, it’s easy to marvel at the geological forces that shaped them, but to appreciate their true grandeur walk their undulating valleys, over their rugged hills, and rise to the very tops of their breath-taking summits.
This trip brings together the best experiences this area can offer: the elegant and laid-back pleasure of a gulet cruise, the thrill of walking through an array of wonderful landscapes, the region’s fascinating multi-faceted history, the joy of swimming in the blue waters of the Aegean and the delights of fresh local cuisine, enjoyed both on and off the gulet. It is a unique opportunity to explore these island landscapes on foot and to discover superb archaeological sites far from the beaten track.
The combination of the islands you will visit and the walks we have prepared on each will offer you a panoramic insight – literally and metaphorically – into a region of enormous historical depth, and one that conceals a great wealth of hidden beauties rarely noticed by visitors. Accompanied by our expert guides, you will gain an intimate understanding of each island, its landscape, its past and present, and its individual character.
On Kalymnos, a long and peaceful valley unfolds an archaeological timeline from Classical Greece to the Byzantine era and beyond, as one site after another lines-up along the border between lush agricultural land and the island’s characteristically rocky uplands. In the centre of the island, we encounter a different phase of its history at the remarkably rugged site of its former main town, hidden away on a fortified slope. On Leros, a seemingly serene mountaintop holds a fascinating array of mementos of the island’s turbulent role in the Second World War. On tiny, rarely-visited Telendos, we walk a route through a remarkable collection of Byzantine monuments. In Kos, we will explore the hidden remains of a barely-excavated ancient Greek city and ascend to the pinnacle of a soaring crusader castle that commands fantastic views of the neighbouring islands. Nisyros sees us walk the bucolically fertile slopes of an enormous volcanic caldera and enter a spectacularly-located ancient Greek fortress. Step by step and story by story, this remarkable voyage will unfold the layers of history, combining into an unforgettable experience of riveting tales, stupendous vistas and the sheer natural beauty of each island.
Day 1: Your gulet awaits you in the ancient and modern port of Bodrum, 40 minutes from the airport. Welcome dinner aboard.
Day 2: We cruise north to the rocky island of Kalymnos, and take a lovely walk through the long valley of Vathy in the afternoon, visiting a series of fascinating ancient sites ranging from an imposing ancient Greek fortress to an array of beautiful early basilica churches and an extensive necropolis.
Day 3: We continue northwards to Leros, where we will hike to the top of Mt Patela, an important military installation in the Second World War, riddled with mysterious tunnels built by Italian troops and crowned by the “acoustic mirror”, a near-unique leftover of 1930s technology.
Day 4: Through beautiful maritime scenery, we approach Telendos, a limestone outcrop rising from the Aegean Sea, nestled into the great western gulf of Kalymnos. Scattered around the little port, we will explore a huge basilica church and a series of well-preserved Byzantine tombs. After a voyage to Kalymnos, we explore that island’s medieval Chora, a mighty fortification atop a steep-sided plateau, where crumbling ramparts and a plethora of chapels stand witness to a turbulent past.
Day 5: We continue to the Kefalos Peninsula in Western Kos. Here, a leisurely walk through a peaceful agricultural landscape gradually reveals a series of tombs, terraces, walls, churches, temples and a theatre: the remains of the city of Astypalaia, still almost entirely unexplored. In the late afternoon, we continue to the tiny islet of Giali, where we anchor for the night.
Day 6: A short crossing brings us to Mandraki, the port of Nisyros, the whole island being a mostly dormant volcano. We walk the slopes of the vast caldera that forms the interior of the island, where we will discover the timeless connection between the island’s fiery geological inheritance, its fertile volcanic soils, and the lives that humans have made here for millennia. In the late afternoon, we continue to the harbour of Kos.
Day 7: In the morning, we make our way to the central uplands of the island, to the impressive eyrie that is the crusader castle of Palaio Pili. The panoramic view from the ramparts of the castle encompasses much the seas and islands we have travelled in the previous days, a spectacular reminder. In the afternoon, we return to Bodrum, where we will enjoy a farewell dinner moored in the historic harbour.
Day 8: Departures from Bodrum harbour to Bodrum airport.
Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport – Bodrum Milas
Departure Airport – Bodrum Milas
We plan for the gulet to depart around 17.00. Embarkation is from 15:00 onwards. You are more than welcome to arrive earlier to drop off your bags, but please be aware that the crew will be busy cleaning and tidying making everything ready for your group so you may not be able to settle in to your cabin. If you arrive at the gulet after 17:00, we will do our best to enable you to join the tour at a convenient time and place. Departure time can be subject to change depending on weather, harbour or other conditions.
Disembarkation is around 09:00. We will arrange local transfers on the first and last day of the tour.
Booking Flights If you are staying in or connecting via Athens then the easiest way to get to and from the gulet is to fly. There are a number of airlines that offer domestic flights in Greece such as Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air. Both Airlines have a wide selection of flights on these days. The cheapest way to book flights is directly with the airline online.
Please note: Flights are subject to change. Please contact the airline for exact details.
If you prefer to book with a travel agent, we are happy to recommend specialists in a number of countries around the world, please contact our office for more details.
Travel Insurance Travel insurance is a requirement of our booking conditions and we recommend you investigate the options thoroughly to make sure that your trip is properly covered. Please be advised some insurers may require you to take out a policy within 15-20 days of booking your holiday to receive all of their insurance benefits.
Visas A Visa is required to pass through Turkish customs during the cruise. Visas are easily obtained online at eVisa and must be purchased before you travel.
Citizens of European Union or Schengen Treaty member states need no visa for Greece, those from the United States, Canada and Australia do not need to apply for a visa to visit Greece for trips of less than 90 days duration.
Athens, Kos and the Greek islands If you are planning to stay in Athens before or after your tour we have included below links to more information and things to see and do. If you intend to add time on Kos or any other Greek island, we are happy to offer information and advice.
Nature of the Walking and Cruising itinerary Cruising and Itinerary: We will be crossing some stretches of wide open sea between the islands and covering considerable distances on some of the days. The Dodecanese Islands (running as a chain alongside the shore of southwest Turkey) are renowned for their wealth of nature and beauty and cruising between them offers a wonderful opportunity to experience and appreciate their fascinating diversity. Please be aware that the terrain is often uneven, rocky, and rugged, and a number of the paths are carpeted with loose stones underfoot. You do need to be fit with a good sense of balance. There are some long stretches of uphill and downhill walking. It’s certainly not a walk in the park, but ropes and crampons aren’t required! You do need to be used to hiking off the beaten track.
As with all of our gulet cruises, we have spent a great deal of time crafting the itinerary to be as good as it can be, but we are travelling aboard a boat and may need to make changes according to the weather and the captain’s advice.
Overnights: Compared with our coastal gulet cruises in Turkey and Italy, where we tend to spend a good number of nights moored out in isolated bays, on this trip we will be spending more nights in harbour on the islands. This means you’ll have the chance to explore not only as part of the expert led outings, you’ll also be able to go ashore and wander in the mornings and evenings when we are tied up in the picturesque Greek harbour towns.
Food: The boat is a Turkish gulet with a Turkish crew including a chef who will be cooking up wonderful meals throughout your cruise. As such the food served on board will be traditional ‘Turkish’ or Eastern Mediterranean. We will be going ashore to eat authentic Greek food in family run tavernas at intervals along the way and your tour leader will ensure you’ll have the chance to sample a good many of the local Greek delicacies of the islands. The gulet will be stocked with Greek wine and spirits and your guides will introduce you to some of the best beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) the Greek islands have to offer.