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Zante island news and views

Zante or Zakynthos is one of the most southerly of the Ionian chain of holiday islands that follow the coastline of western Greece. Zante has great holiday beaches, fertile plains and wild cliffs while resorts range from idyllic fishing villages to neon-lit resorts like Laganas. The main beach resorts are to the south and west. Elsewhere, expect pretty villages and quiet coves.

Azimut ferry Joy
New ferry links for the Ionian

The Ionian islands look set to get a new ferry to link some of the biggest holiday hotspots in Greece. The Ionian chain includes the very popular holiday islands of Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkas and Zante. Although they attract thousands of UK visitors each year, ferry links between the islands have always been notoriously poor. Now a ferry route to link all the Ionian islands for the first time looks ready to set sail on May 1 and run right through the summer season until the end of October. Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis announced the new ferry service at the Regional Development Conference of the Ionian islands. The new sea ferry services will be run by Azimut Joy Cruises with a 30-metre ship that will carry up to 260 passengers. The Minister said: "The linking of the Ionian islands will be a new reality that will put an end to the isolation between islands belonging to the same region". The new ferry will link Corfu with Paxi, Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos with sailings every day except Sunday. Each week the ferry with travel from Corfu, in the north, to Zante (Zakynthos), in the south, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and back again (Zante to Corfu) on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The full journey will take about eight hours, leaving Corfu at 8 am and arriving in Zakynthos about 4 pm. Details of sailing time can be found on the right. It's only in Greek at the moment but those with a basic knowledge of the Greek alphabet will be able to decipher the islands of ΚΕΡΚ"Ρ' ΚΕΡΚΥΡA (CORFU), ΠAΞΟΙ (PAXOS), ΛΕΥΚADA (LEFKADA), ΙΘAΚH (ITHAKA), ΚΕΦAΛΟΝΙA (KEFALONIA) and ZAΚΥΝΘΟS (ZAKYNTHOS) or something similar. Although plenty of ferries call at these islands they are usually heading east-west on routes between the mainlands of Italy and Greece. There are a few local inter-island ferries but these usually just day cruises, have poor connections and irregular sailing times. This is the first ferry to run the whole length of the Ionian islands.  With three passenger and car ferries plus two flying dolphins, Joy Lines, a subsidiary of Joy Cruises, has been operating since 2005 running day cruises and tours from Corfu to Albania. The launch of this new Ionian ferry service could trigger a wave of island hopping tourists who can now sail from island to island.  As the closest Greek islands to the UK, the Ionian islands can be reached in flight times of three hours or so. The Ionian group lies off the west coast of mainland Greece and the are notably greener than other islands thanks to heavy winter rains. Good sandy beaches and shallow seas help to make most islands in the Ionian chain very popular with families. Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkas and Zante are the best known but the smaller islands of Paxos and Ithaka are also well worth a visit.

Loggerhead turtles in danger
Zante turtles hold up flight

Baby turtles on Zante left UK holidaymakers stranded in the airport according to media reports. Homebound Easyjet passengers disembarked from the plane after a fault was found with one of the wing flaps. But specialist flight engineers were unable to fly in and fix the problem because of a night-time ban on flights on the island. It meant passenger had to wait until the following day before the repairs could be carried out and they were able to fly home. The flight approach to Zante airport lies directly over the big holiday beach at Kalamaki, also the nesting site for hundreds of endangered Mediterranean loggerhead turtles. As turtles eggs hatch during the hours of darkness, flights over the nesting beaches are banned during the breeding season which happens to coincide with the peak holiday season of June to August. There are reports of any passengers complaining at the alleged lack of support during the delay which started on Sunday afternoon. Some holidaymakers claim they didn't get back to the Uk until the following Tuesday, had nowhere to stop overnight and were not kept informed of what was happening. Conservation groups say around 500 turtles now head for Zante to build nests on the beaches. They once swam there in their thousands but the encroachment of tourism has taken its toll. The conservation record of Greeks is very poor, particularly on Zante where turtle nesting beaches have been bulldozed to make way for hotels, beach bars and tourist sunbeds. Despite cashing in on the turtle connection, Zante has done more than any other Greek island to drive them to extinction. Turtle spotting boat trips are still a popular draw despite the shy creatures being hounded by tourists. Turtles arrive in Laganas Bay to queues of glass-bottomed pleasure boats circling the waters. Camera snapping tourists appear unconcerned at the distress caused as boats that chase the turtles through the water. Easyjet said around a quarter of passengers took alternative flights and those stranded were provided with hotel accommodation and expenses in line with European and they will also be entitled to compensation. A spokesperson added: "We do all possible to try and minimise delays and as such planned to send a replacement aircraft. Unfortunately, due to the night curfew rule at the airport, we were unable to get the replacement aircraft into the airport." The Greek government has been under fire for years from the European Commission for its failure to protect the turtles and their nesting sites from commercial exploitation. Greece was condemned by the European Court for failing to protect the endangered sea turtles of Zante after household waste was dumped on a key nesting site.

zante nagavio shipwreck
Zante shipwreck fence

A holiday on Zante is hardly complete without a boat trip to the famous Shipwreck Cove but visitors may well find the beached vessel fenced off. Officials on the Greek island of Zakynthos are planning to give the rotting hulk in Navagio Bay a facelift. If conservation work gets the go-ahead that could mean fencing the vessel off from the public while the shipwreck gets a clean-up. Thousands of holiday visitors to Zante take the regular excursions boats to see the famous shipwreck. The beached wreck at Smugglers Cove features on Zante island holiday brochures and makes a favourite snap for the holiday photo album. Excursion boats make daily trips to the beach where holidaymakers can clamber over the rusting wreck. Although touted as a romantic wreck, the beached vessel is just a rusty old steamer that ran around in bad weather. Locals say the ship was on a smuggling expedition and was loaded with contraband cigarettes and booze. It was being chased by a Greek navy patrol boat when it hit the beach and has remained ever since. Once considered a ugly a blight on the beautiful bay, the ship has slowly deteriorated over the years and has now become part of the scenery as well as a major tourist attraction. But much of the hulk is rusted and stained while parts of the wreck are covered in ugly graffiti. Zante mayor, Pavlos Kolokotsas, wants to a conservation program for the eroding vessel which he claims is now part of the island's heritage. As well as erecting fencing around the wreck he want to limit the access of beachgoers who he claims are responsible for some of the damage. Latest plans also include hiring security guards to supervise access to the wreck and a portable chemical toilet for visitors. A lifeguard may also be on duty when excursion boats pull into the bay as many visitors combine their trip with a dip in the sea. But the waters in the bay are deep and the shoreline steep, with strong currents in the bay. There are no roads to the remote beach and emergency services can have difficulty in responding quickly to calls for help. The island council could earmark €25,000 – €30,000 towards the project but it will also be looking to the private sector to help fund the clean-up. It may only be a matter of time before Zante holiday visitors have to pay cash to explore the famous wreck which could be 'hidden' behind a fence. The bay at Navagio is considered one of the most beautiful in the Ionian islands and the wreck has only added to its charm. There will be some who will argue that a large fence around the wreck will be an ugly eyesore at such an attractive spot. It was only recently that alarm bells rang over rumours that the famous Zante holiday beach could be sold off to a private company. But the rumours were dismissed by the Greek Orthodox Church, which has considerable property rights in the area. The photogenic Navagio beach is considered a must-see sight on the Greek island of Zante where near-vertical cliffs plunge down to a deep crescent of white pebble on a shore of crystal clear turquoise waters.

deep blue yacht
Sailing the Greek Islands

There are many ways of seeing the illustrious Greek islands, but no way is better that touring the rich waters of the Mediterranean by boat and pulling into the port of any island that takes your fancy. While there are other methods of travel, by ferry, plane or car, that all have their own merits, nothing comes close to the advantages of your very own sailing boat. Freedom: Every other form of transport is limited when it comes to the Greek islands. A car, for example, might be able to get you around the quickest, but it can only travel around islands that have a car ferry system. However, aboard your own personal seafaring vessel, with the warm Med breeze in your hair, you decide where to go. This is the main benefit of charting your own boat, it creates an absolute and rare sense of freedom. Why limit yourself to just a few of these beautiful islands, when there are thousands to explore? Activities: With the freedom comes a greater range of activities available to you. One of the best activities you can get the most out of when sailing is snorkeling. Able to go anywhere in the deep blue Med you want, you can travel to all the best reef and wildlife spots, the Cyclades islands for example, to explore the underwater realm like few others can. Another firm favourite aspect of travelling in Greece is visiting beaches. Out on the boat you are able to find some of the most beautiful, secluded, beaches in the entire world. Away from the public, it feels like it's your own private paradise. One of the biggest reasons people visit the beautiful islands of Greece is its cultural and architectural history. Sailing about these islands allows you to visit any and all places of significance to you. Meaning you won't miss out on any of the wondrous ancient Greek ruins they have to offer. Finally, one of the most exciting activities you can take part in while commanding your own vessel, is simply exploring. There are many mysterious and uninhabited islands in the waters surrounding Greece, filled with breathtaking scenery and awe inspiring views. Walking through island wilderness, untouched by any man, is an experience you have to try. In a world where people hide in every nook and cranny, a quiet and natural paradise out of mans reach is simply magnificent. A word of caution though, some islands are protected because of their significant biodiversity or ecological importance. Before you moor up and go exploring, make sure you are permitted to access the island. Best Of Both Worlds: Being immersed in a private world is an experience like no other, getting away from the world and simply enjoying the wonders it has to offer. But, sometimes you want to go into the hustle and bustle of the main island towns. Maybe to do a bit of shopping, enjoy the local nightlife or find a nice restaurant to eat at. With so many bays and ports you can throw anchor in, you can not only enjoy all the bliss and rarities from your boat, but also the lively, tourist, hotspots. Author Cliff Blaylock, a resident of the Greek Islands, is an expert in travelling the Mediterranean by boat. Having left the UK to start his private charter business, Bill and his team have over 20 years experience treating customers to all the wonders the islands have to offer. If you like the sound of a privately chartered trip, but don't know how to sail, then check out Cliff's privately run and professionally crewed, yacht chartering service www.deepblueyachting.co.uk

Zante loggerhead turtle caretta
Zante rapped over turtle sites

Greece had been condemned by the European Court for failing to protect endangered sea turtles as it dumps household waste on a key nesting site. It follows widespread alarm at the continued use of a waste dump on a protected beach in Zante close to the popular holiday resorts of Laganas and Kalamaki. Zante authorities continue to bulldoze nesting sites and to dump waste on land that lies within the maritime national park of the island, part of the European network of protected sites Natura 2000 since 2006. The European Court of Justice rules that, by keeping a dump active, in defiance European Union environmental regulations, Greece has violated its obligations under European law. The court also ruled that Greece also violated its obligations on the preservation of the environment and endangered species and it now faces the risk of a lawsuit or a heavy fine. The destruction of nest sites and disregard for the sea turtle caretta caretta has been a national scandal for many years. Zante locals have traded heavily on its turtle connection, with turtle spotting boat trips and endless turtle T-shirts, while at the same time destroying habitats, invading nesting sites and killing off turtles in large numbers. Beaches around Laganas Bay have been major turtle nesting sites for hundred of years. But the growth in tourism has seen turtle numbers decline sharply as tourist facilities have expanded. Zante tourist turtle spotting boats regularly scare off the shy creatures while bulldozers clear nesting sites to make way for sun loungers and beach bars. Some measures have been put in place to protect turtles, with nesting sites marked off and power boats and jet skis banned on some beaches, but laws to protect the animals go largely disregarded and unenforced. Zante conservation experts have repeatedly warned that tourist turtle-viewing trips on Zante pleasure boats are threatening the future of the endangered caretta caretta sea turtle but the war with the tourist industry in Laganas Bay has been going on for years. In this latest incident, Greek authorities decided to continue using a waste dump close to the Sekania beach on Laganas bay inside the maritime park until a new one is opened. The court found that waste dumping in this area of Kalamaki was having a strong impact on the ecology of Zante and it siting judged to be especially damaging, as turtles in this area need absolute protection. Tourists appear unaware or unconcerned at the distress caused by turtle spotting boats that chase the turtles through the water. Conservation experts blame repeated funding cuts by Greek authorities which have prevented measures to protect turtles and guard endangered nesting sites. The Greek government has been under fire for years from the European Commission for its failure to protect the turtles of Zante and their nesting sites from commercial exploitation.

Base jumping on Zante
Zante beach sale shock

Talks on sale of land at Shipwreck beach. Alarm bells are ringing over reports that the famous 'Shipwreck' holiday beach of Navagio on Zante may have been sold off to a property company with links to the Emir of Qatar. The most famous beach in Zakynthos, Navagio beach, attracts thousands of tourist visitors each year to its sheer white cliffs, turquoise waters and the historic shipwreck that lies beached on the shoreline. Rumours are sweeping the island that a local family, who own much of the land surrounding the popular Navagio beach, are in serious talks to sell the site to an international real estate company, with strong links to the Emir of Qatar, for a reported €9 million. Details began to emerge when the Public Revenue Service of Zakynthos revealed that a €400,000 deposit had been offered towards possible land transfer tax on the deal, although tax officials claim the property is probably worth double what is claimed. However, it appeals the may also involve the Greek Church which has considerable property rights in the area, including the property title for the famous holiday beach itself. Recently the Bishop Chrysostomos of Dodona announced that the Church has no intention of selling its property rights in the region and claimed the issue was already under investigation by legal officials on Zakynthos. The Greek Church not only has a large amount of land on the island of Zante is also owns and runs the Monastery of Agios Giorgios of Krimes which is located above the famous Shipwreck Beach. The photogenic Navagio beach is a must-see sight on the Greek holiday island of Zante , where the near-vertical cliffs plunge down to a deep scimitar of white pebble and sand. Thousands of holiday visitors to Zante go on excursions to the famous shipwreck, also known as Smugglers Cove, which features on scores of Zante postcards and holiday brochures and there are daily boat trips from many resorts around the island. The wreck is just a rusty old steamer that struck the beach while on a cigarette and booze smuggling expedition. It ran aground in poor weather while being pursued by a Greek navy patrol boat. There are no roads to the remote spot and the easiest access is by sea. Day trips excursion boats arrive hourly at the beach bring hundreds of trippers every day. It also stages an annual base jump competition with competitors jumping and parachuting down onto the beach from the top of sheer cliffs. The Bishop said the potential transfer of surrounding property to an investor is at an early stage and that there are many loose ends to tie up before any deal is done and that the Church was closely monitoring developments. It is understood that a large area land around the Zante beach, around 15,000 acres, is subject to negotiation between the company with connections to the Emir of Qatar and the descendants of an island family that claims deed going back to the 17th century. A representative of the landowner claims all proper legal procedures have been following in the land sale but insists that the property in question does not include the monastery or the famous Navagio tourist beach.

kefalonia earthquake
More shocks for Kefalonia

6.1 strong earthquake hits the island of Kefalonia just before dawn. Just days after hotel owners on Kefalonia reassured tourists that hotel were safe despite more than 250 tremors, the island was hit by another major earthquake. A strong quake measuring 6.1 on the Richter Scale struck Kefalonia just before dawn today (Monday February 3) sending panicked residents across the island running out into the streets. Greek radio so far reports damage at the port of Lixouri, Kefalonia's second largest town, with damage to buildings and minor injuries. Authorities have no clear picture of the situation in outlying villages on the island's mountainous Pali peninsula. The Athens Geodynamic Institute registered the quake, which struck just after 5 a.m. local time with a magnitude of 5.7 and an epicentre 12 kilometres north-west of the island's capital of Argostoli while the U.S. Geological Survey registered the shock at 6.1. Earthquakes have been rattling Kefalonia constantly for more than a week following a 5.9-magnitude tremor that struck on January 26, damaging homes and injuring seven people. Thousands of Kefalonia residents have abandoned their homes to live with relatives or in temporary accommodation provided by ships moored in Argostoli harbour. The seismic shocks have reawakened memories of the devastating 7.2 magnitude quake that struck Kefalonia and Zante in 1953, one of a series of three that killed hundreds of people and destroyed nearly all the buildings on both islands. The latest quakes have been felt right across western Greece and as far away as the Greek capital, Athens, nearly 300km to the west. Kefalonia's mayor has urged people to leave their houses if they show any signs of damage. Power and water supplies have been cut and islanders have also had to cope with bad weather, heavy rains and low temperatures.

Base jumping on Zante
Zante has a record season

Holidaymakers expected to top 500,000 this year. As the last holiday flight leaves Zante at the end of the summer season, islanders are celebrating a record year in 2013. Latest figures show the Ionian holiday island welcomed more than 483,000 tourists at the island's airport this year, a record number. But when ferry arrivals are added later this month tourist officials on Zante are confident holidaymakers will top the 500,000 mark. Zante not only attracts visitors from northern and central Europe and Russia, it is also a very popular holiday destination for thousands of Italians who make regular ferry crossings from ports such as Venice and Brindisi. Zante has also benefited this year from a rise in flights from low-cost airlines that have brought in many more independent travellers to join those on all-inclusive package holidays. Zante island authorities are already in talks with cheap flight airlines like easyJet and Ryanair to strike low price deals for 2014 in anticipation of more frequent holiday flights Zante next year. Tourist representatives from all the Ionian Islands, which include Corfu, Kefalonia and Lefkas, are in London this week for the travel industry exhibition World Travel Market. Greece is hoping to make a big impact at this year's World Travel Market(WTM) that open its doors on 4 November at ExCeL London exhibition centre. On the opening day Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni will give an update on Greece as a tourism destination at a press conference organized by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO). Greece is poised to launch its big advertising drive to capture holiday markets next year with its theme of 'Secret Greece' in an effort to promote some of the country's lesser-known destinations such as Xanthi, Monemvasia, Olympia, Lakonia, Messinia and Delphi. Some 50,000 executives from the global travel and tourism industry are expected to attend the WTM 2013 where more than 5,000 exhibitors showcase their holiday destinations. The deals struck at exhibitions such as WTM and be influential in deciding which holidays get the biggest promotions among the major holiday companies and where holidaymakers visit in 2014. International arrivals and tourism revenue in Greece and the Greek Islands are expected to surpass even the most optimistic forecasts for 2013 as the latest figures suggest a record year for visitors with around 17.5 million visitors generating around €11.5 billion in tourism receipts. In a major drive to jump-start bookings for 2014, the Tourism Ministry and the GNTO have already launched several Greek Islands holiday promotions, released ferry schedules six months early and expect to launch scores of seaplane services between the Greek Islands. Mrs. Kefalogianni said at a recent conference in Athens that 2014 may turn out be an even better year for Greek tourism than 2013.

Zante loggerhead turtle caretta
Zante beach turtle threat

Tourists help scare off nesting turtles. Holiday tourists on Zante are helping to kill off one of the world's rarest turtles. Conservation experts warn that tourist turtle-viewing trips on Zante pleasure boats are threatening the future of the endangered caretta caretta or Mediterranean loggerhead sea turtle. The war between conservationists and the tourism industry has been going on for years in Zante's Laganas Bay. The area is a hugely popular holiday hotspot and also one of the main breeding grounds for the turtle. Glass bottomed turtle viewing trips are very popular with visiting holidaymakers, but not for the turtles themselves. The caretta caretta is normally shy and easily disturbed, especially during the egg laying season. But turtles arrive in Laganas Bay to queues of pleasure boats circling the waters. Pleasure boats are moored along the coastline of the islet of Marathonisi, a major turtle nesting site, from 10am to 6pm every day as tourist pay to get a glimpse of the shy creatures. Tourists appear unaware of the distress they cause among the rare turtles as they snap their cameras as boats chase them through the water. The director of the conservation group WWF Hellas, Dimitris Karavellas, blames the problem on funding cuts which have prevented the recruitment of guards for the nesting site. Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis insisted that there was no problem with funding but suggested that the protection program had yet to get started. The Greek government has been under fire for years from the European Commission for its failure to protect the turtles and their nesting sites from commercial exploitation. Turtle nests in the Laganas Bay resort of Kalamaki have been used as a rubbish dump while hotel owners have bulldozed nesting sites to make way for sunbeds.

Zante Nagavio cliff diving
Zante cliff diving

Zante beach cliff diving on video. Taking photos of the famous Shipwreck Beach on Zante is a popular activity for many holiday visitors to the island. But this video posted on Youtube here shows what it must be like to jump from the near vertical cliffs to the beach below. The video follows the fortunes of base jumping enthusiasts who sky dive off the cliffs to the sands below. Apologies for the music soundtrack which I suppose is meant to add to the excitement – you decide. Zante hosts an annual contest for extreme sports enthusiasts at the Navagio beach. Big name base jumpers from across the world attend the event which is usually held in August. The base jumping contest is an extra attraction for holiday visitors to Zante who are visiting the island at this time of year. Obviously, the sport is not without it dangers, as highlighted when a British base jumper died in June last year when his parachute got snagged on the cliff face. Tourist Jake Simkins, 42, was making a jump from the Navagio cliffs when he hit the cliff face and got stuck on rocks for three hours before plunging 180ft to his death. Emergency workers were unable to reach him before he fell. Almost every holiday visitor to Zante will visit the famous shipwreck cove which features on loads of Zante postcards and holiday brochures. The wreck is just a rusty old steamer that struck the beach while on a cigarette and booze smuggling expedition. It ran aground in poor weather while being chased by a Greek navy patrol boat. But the picture postcard setting adds glamour. There are no roads to this spot and the easiest access is by sea. Day trips excursion boats arrive hourly bring hundreds of trippers every day.

Underwater finds at Alikanas Zante
Zante find

Zante underwater city find. An important new underwater archaeological site has been discovered off the Greek Island holiday coast of Zante. Impressive underwater remains have been found off the coastal holiday resort of Alykanas on Zante where a team has been working for nearly a month. The large sunken site is believed to cover about 30,000 square metres and shows evidence of paved floors, courtyards and colonnades. Early guesses are that this is the remains of an ancient city port but the absence of any pottery finds so far make it difficult to date. The site is off the coast of one of Zante's most popular holiday beach resort area at Alykanas and Alykes where thousand of holidaymakers visit each year. Underwater archaeologists have found at least 20 circular column bases each with a large central hole that suggests they were to support wooden columns. The size of the building suggest the existence of a significant ancient settlement in the Alikanas area. Now the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities will work in collaboration with the Municipality of Zakynthos to carry out more extensive research and mapping of the site as soon as possible.

Painters in Zante 2013
Zante arts

Zante arts festival opens. Holiday visitors to Zante can get a taste of modern art as the island stages and International Art and Creation Festival. It is the second year running that Zante tourists get to see paintings from international artists as the island bids to get established on the cultural map of the Mediterranean. An exhibition of paintings opened earlier this month at the Regional Unit of Zakynthos buildings and the island is to host a meeting later in May of artists, photographers and journalists from Russia, Holland, Spain, China and, of course, Greece itself. An exhibition spokesman said: "Besides the artistic renderings of the natural beauty and historical monuments of Zakynthos, coupled with the use of technology and new means of communication, a view of the island around the world will also be offered." The latter part of theZakynthos Arts Festival is being run in cooperation with the Moscow Association of Artists of the International Art Fund during which, renowned Russian and Greek painters together will create works of art in the open air, creating their own impressions of the natural beauty and culture of the Island During their stay on Zante, the artists will take part in several events including painting classes, painting exhibitions into the Zante countryside, round table talks on art issues, friendship tours and may even create special painting for the occasion. The Municipality of Zakynthos is organizing for the second year in a row the International of Art and Creation Festival which aims to establish international art meetings on an annual basis and use the island as its destination. They will be joined by the noted French painter Giacomo de Pass who will be guest of honour. Paintings and photographs created during the cultural event will be displayed in the Club Zakynthos and the Casino at St. Mark's Square. Zante entrepreneurs and other sponsors are providing the hospitality, catering and island tours for the artists. Zante officials hope to strengthen artistic and cultural relations between the countries as well boost the island's reputation as a major cultural centre.

Zakynthos Hospital
Zante hospital

Zante hospital could close tourists warned. Holiday visitors to the Greek Islands may not find the best of health care should they fall ill while abroad. Government funding cuts are having a serious impact with claims that the general hospital on Ionian island of Zakynthos is close to breaking point just the latest in a series of health warnings across the islands. It is claimed by senior medical staff that the Zakynthos hospital may have to close unless it receives more funding. The hospital on Zakynthos is currently running at 60% capacity with most beds taken up by elderly patients requiring immediate medical care. Medics claim the hospital has run out of heating oil and has been forced to reduce meals served to patients because of a serious cash shortage. The hospital says it cannot play cleaning staff, has been forced to cancel several surgeries and is quickly running out of drugs. They fear the start of the tourist holiday season at Easter will bring more visitors to the island and put even more strain on its only hospital. It follows alarm on the island of Symi earlier this year when the island's only doctor was moved to neighbouring Leros and patients were forced to travel to Athens to get vital drugs when supplies ran out. On Patmos a doctor has pleaded to help after complaining that she was on continuous 24-hour call and that she was reaching her limits of endurance. She pleaded for a second rural doctor to be posted on the island "because my physical and mental fatigue after continuous call for so long can be fatal in the management of an incident". Austerity measures have led to major cutback in many health and social services across Greece with health centres on many Greek islands being badly hit.

Loggerhead turtles in danger
Action on Zante turtles

Anger ar waste dumping on turtle nest beach. One good reason not to book a Greek island holiday in Laganas on Zante this year – Greece is to face European court action over the illegal dumping of waste on the holiday beach of Kalamaki. Years of protests have failed to stop unlawful waste dumping on Kalamaki beach which is an important nesting ground for endangered loggerhead sea turtles The European Court of Justice has now ruled that Greece will be indicted to stand trial over the issue after repeated warnings about the Kalamaki dump have been ignored. The latest move follows a European ruling against Greece in 2002 for failing to take adequate measures to protect its endangered Careta Careta loggerhead sea turtle population, which is threatened with extinction. It was only in July 2011, following months of delay, that the Greek Ministry of Environment Energy and Climate Change finally released operational funds to the Zakynthos National Marine Park to cover salaries for staff involved in the marine protection project since 2010. This funding delay led to insufficient patrols of turtle nests on the beach, the construction of an illegal car park, the building of a breakwater and a significant decrease in the number of nests counted on the beach in 2011. The 2011 summer nesting season notched up the highest ever recorded number of dead and stranded turtles as the Greek government continued to ignore its responsibilities. Experts fear that the loss of such a large number of adult turtles may irreversibly affect the loggerhead population's attempts to reproduce each year s on Zakynthos beaches. Despite the European Commission's intervention on illegal landfills in Greece, the unlawful waste dump continues to operate on Kalamaki beach and it has even been expanded with the construction of two new dump sites. The Zante authorities claim they can't find anywhere to build a new landfill and say they intend to operate the existing one illegally until 2015. The wanton destruction of turtle nesting sites in Laganas Bay has been a national disgrace for the Zante authorities, unable or unwilling to comply with turtle protection laws despite the resort trading on its beaches as turtle nesting sites. Anyone who cares for Greece or the environment should stay away from Laganas and Kalamaki beaches until the Greek and Zante officials see some sense.

Wildfire outbreaks across Greek Islands
Wildfires spread

Wildfires spread on Greek Islands. It's that time of year again and wildfires have broken out all over the Greek Islands with the biggest outbreaks on the islands of Rhodes, Hydra, Zakynthos, and Crete near Chania. A state of emergency has been declared on Rhodes after a blaze spread to forest areas between Agios Silas and the Valley of Butterflies at Petaloudes. Nearly 100 firefighters, some drafted in from Athens, are fighting the flames which have been fanned by high winds. More than 30 fire engines, three planes and a helicopter are at the scene. It is estimated that more than 2,000 hectares are affected by the blaze. No holiday visitors to Rhodes are reported to be involved as this is not in a heavily populated tourist area. A grassland fire near Chania, on Crete, is thought to be under control and fire outbreaks have been reported around the villages of Lacon, Omalos and Karanos, but there is no risk for populated areas. A fire broke out on the island of Zakynthos near the popular tourist resort of Keri and 10 firemen with five fire engines and two fire-fighting planes were fighting it. A fire on the island of Hydra was reported as spreading quickly and 17 firefighters with three fire engines and two specialized aircraft were tackling theblaze. Wildfire outbreaks on the mainland have also been causing concern, especially in Florina where at least 30 firefighters were trying to contain outbreaks. A recent fire on the island of Chios destroyed thousands of mastic trees and wrecked the island's trademark mastic gum industry. As firefighters damped down the last flare-ups from the six-day blaze, it was estimated the fire had destroyed quarter of the island's mastic groves, worth around €3million annually to gum producers. Forest fires are common during Greece's long hot summers, but the country has seen hundreds of blazes in recent weeks following a long summer heat wave. In 2007, about 70 people died in blazes that swept through much of central and southern Greece. A man has been arrested for allegedly setting the Chios trees on fire and has reportedly admitted to another 14 fires on the island. According to authorities, cases are being prepared against 250 people on charges of causing wildfires this year, 26 thought to be arson and 224 the result of negligence.

Base jumping on Zante
Zante contest

Zante beach hosts extreme sports contest. Holiday visitors to Zante can catch a glimpse of one of the world's most thrilling extreme sports when the famous Shipwreck Beach hosts a base jumping contest. An extreme sport is always an attraction for many viewers just because of the theme of word extreme. This is especially so for one of the most dangerous extreme sports in the world and the largest dose of adrenaline that can give a sport like this. The reason is base jumping. Base jumping is a parachute jump without an airplane. The jump is made from a relatively low altitude from the Earth. A prerequisite is extensive experience and training in skydiving and parachuting. With what could be combined a sport like this? Certainly the free fall from the steep sides of exotic beaches of the Ionian Sea in Greece. Of course it could not be other than the famous Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos. Already professional base jumpers are ready to participate in this year's event, among them big names in base jumping from abroad, who will travel to Zakynthos and the magnificent Navagio beach. The event is scheduled to run from August 20 to 26 and is sponsored by big energy drink company from America. The base jumping contest is an extra attraction or those who want to travel to Zakynthos. The Navagio beach is a must-see sight on the island, where the near-vertical cliffs plunge down to an enclosed beach. Those that wish to enjoy the event can book now your Zakynthos hotels and enjoy the most extreme event in Zante. The dangers of this extreme sport were highlighted when a British base jumper died in June this tear when his parachute got snagged on the cliff face at Navagio Beach. Tourist Jake Simkins, 42 , was making a jump on the Greek island of Zante when it went terribly wrong and he hit the cliff face. He got stuck on rocks for three hours before plunging 180ft to his death. Emergency workers tried to rescue him but he fell before they could reach him. Mr Simkins worked for London Underground's engineering department and had a passion for extreme sports.

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