Crete delights at botanical park.
If beach lovers on beach holiday in Crete fancy a change of scenery they should take a stroll around the Botanical Park near the village of Skourdalou on the north coast.
The 20 hectare park lies just off the national road, about 20km from Chania, and is full of fruit trees, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants.
The Crete Botanical Park grew from the ashes of a wildfire in 2003 which destroyed 60,000 olive trees.
Some of the olive trees that were destroyed were amongst the oldest trees in Crete. The wildfire alsodestroyed manycitrus orchards.
The blaze would have spelt financial and economic ruin for the village but for the efforts of three local brothers who decided to create a botanical park after fire destroyed their farmland.
Now there are more than 150 species of fruit trees together with the dozens of herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants in a lush natural environment. The region's microclimate makes it a paradise for many plants and animals.
A walk around the park takes about two hours and the well marked path snakes through areas of great beauty on 200 square kilometres of the well-designed planted hillside.
Signposts lead visitors to various sections of the Botanical Park such as areas of tropical trees, fruit-bearing trees, citrus trees, herbs and vineyards.
In the midst of the colourful landscape stands a burnt out 100-year-old olive tree which stands as a memorial to the devastating fire of 2003 which marked the birth of the park.
As well a amazing flora the Botanical Park of Crete is home to ducks, geese and other rare birds, even to hawks that fly in the area.
The park is on the National Road of Chania at Fournes, Omalos, Crete and is open daily from April to October, 8am to 8.30pm. Admission is €4 and children go free. To find out more visit the website at www.botanical-park.com