8 days, 7 nights|
Guides, ground transportation, support vehicle on Naxos, lodging, most meals (breakfasts and dinners).|
Air or ferry to Naxos, lunches and drinks, personal clothing and accessories, entry fees into ruins, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, airport taxes and gratuities|
For those that are in need of a healthy dose of adventure, this is the trip for you. Beginning on the Greek island of Naxos, we will head south along the coast to a cluster of small Cyclades islands, circumnavigating four of them before returning to Naxos. As we glide through the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, we will discover the beauty held within the remote islands of the Small Cyclades. Wild landscape, clear waters, isolated beaches and traditional villages will surely make this an experience unlike any other The Northwest Passage has ever seen. With waters as tranquil as the culture, we will have time to enjoy the remote beaches and hike inland and explore the landscape. When is the last time you experienced a place so perfectly calm and unhurried by the world around it? We've been all over, so we know how rare places such as these are...
Day 1: Arriving by ferry or plane to Naxos, a Northwest Passage Guide will meet and transport you to our hotel. Exact meeting times will be determined once travel arrangements have been made. In the afternoon, we will introduce our fleet of kayaks and paddling equipment. Depending on the weather, we will have our introductory paddle in the Bay of Chora. As evening falls, we will get to know one another and discuss the planned itinerary over sunset drinks and a delicious dinner on the coast. (D)
Day 2: After a restful night and a hearty breakfast we will begin our first full day out on the water. Heading south, we will experience the landscape that characterizes this part of Naxos; rocky peaks jutting out between long stretches of golden sandy beaches. After stopping for a traditional Greek taverna lunch in Mikri Vigla, we continue on towards the village of Agiassos where we will end our first day of paddling. After exploring almost 14 miles of coastline, we will refuel with a group dinner on the serene shoreline. (B, D)
Day 3: After an early start, we will depart the island of Naxos and make our first open water crossing to Irakleia. Weather permitting we may opt for a full circumnavigation. Our final destination for the day is the town of Agios Georgios. In the evening we’ll enjoy a hearty dinner and peaceful rest in town. (B, D)
Day 4: We will depart Irakleia, crossing a short stretch of open water to our next island, Schinoussa. Once we have enjoyed lunch and had time to enjoy Schinoussa harbor, we will spend the day exploring the coast to the south. The mileage for today will be low, as we are spending the night on the island, so we can investigate at our leisure. We will spend the night in the main village of Chora. As it is located right at the heart of the tiny island, you can walk to every beach on Schinoussa. The village is perfect for morning walks or for watching the brilliant sunset over the sea. (B, D)
Day 5: In the morning we depart Schinoussa, heading for both Keros and Koufonisia. The earlier part of the day will be spent exploring the stunningly pristine and uninhabited island of Keros. Its varied coast of rocky formations and sandy beaches will make for an exciting day of exploration, and the clear waters around Keros are great for dolphin spotting. Though small, Keros is one of the most important Greek islands for the early Cycladic civilization - its recent excavations of the marble Cycladic figurines have greatly expanded archaeological insights into the period. Before departing this unique island we will enjoy a picnic lunch at the beach of our choosing. From Keros, we will head north to Koufonisia, where we will spend our evening in the main harbor town. (B, D)
Day 6: After an early start, we will begin our exploration and circumnavigation of Koufonisia. This small islands is known for its natural beauty, amazing beaches, wild landscape and intriguing sea caves. After completing our circumnavigation of Koufonisia we will begin paddling back to Irakleia, passing along the way the small island of Kato, with coastline almost identical to that of Koufonisia, and the northern coast of Schinoussa. Once again we will spend our evening in the town of Agios Georgios, enjoying the Greek hospitality, food and culture. (B, D)
Day 7: On our last day of paddling we will return to Naxos, a place that will surely feel like home at this point. Departing Agios Georgios, we will immediately head north towards the coast of Naxos. Another sublime day secluded beaches, swimming and paddling awaits us. We will stop half way to enjoy one last taverna lunch. Once we are fed and refreshed we will continue on to Naxos. Tonight we enjoy our celebratory dinner and reminisce on all our favorite memories from our adventure in the Cyclades. (B, D)
Day 8: After breakfast we gather our belongings and say goodbye to this incredible island. We transfer you to the airport so that you can make any connecting flights. (B)
* Thank you for joining us on this exploratory sea kayaking adventure along the coast of Naxos and through the islands of the Small Cyclades. For over 25 years, The Northwest Passage has been exploring the farthest corners of our globe. We are overjoyed by your commitment to continue that journey with us. As adventurous souls you will find the opportunity rewarding on so many levels. Since this is an exploratory trip, The Northwest Passage encourages you to be flexible throughout our journey as some parts of it may to adapt to changing weather conditions or other situations. Please do not hesitate to share questions or concerns with your guides.
* Note: This is our intended itinerary for this exploratory trip. As with any adventure travel, the forces of nature can be unpredictable, causing us to make adjustments and changes to the itinerary. Rest assured that our many years of exploring have provided us with numerous options if changes need to be made. If it is too windy to paddle, various hiking, cultural and historical options will make you glad for the winds.
This is all you will need - anything else is unnecessary baggage and will only be extra weight to carry.
- 3-7 t-shirts, some synthetic for paddling
- 1 shirt, long sleeved
- 2-3 pair shorts (some quick drying)
- Sun/rain hat
- Sneakers/cross trainers hiking; some prefer hiking in Tevas or other sandals with socks
- Rain gear just in case! (Paddling jacket works well as an alternative, or windbreaker jacket)
- 1 pair sport sandals; Tevas, water socks, etc. (Paddling booties are great!)
- Bathing suit(s)
- Underwear, socks
- Casual clothes for evenings (shorts/summer dresses are fine!)
- Clean change of clothing for the trip home
- Passport (be sure to check expiration date)
- Toiletry kit- toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, face cream, nail clippers, moleskin, baby powder, soap, washcloth (most hotels don’t provide them) etc.
- Personal medication kit- ibuprofen, aspirin, vitamins, band-aids, Dramamine®, cold/sinus meds if prone to colds
- Daypack/fanny pack for hiking options
- Collapsible walking stick for optional hikes
- Sunglasses Chums/Croakies® to keep glasses on your head are imperative
- Water bottle (optional- bottled water is plentiful and cheap)
- Small dry bag with carabiner clip (clear ones are very useful)
- Headlamp for sea caves
- Camera, film, waterproof container
- Paddling gloves (for the tender of palm- not neoprene but any open fingered glove can help e.g. biking gloves etc)
- Small towel (e.g. PackTowel® works well)
- Small travel alarm clock
- Mask and snorkel (can be purchased inexpensively)
- Field glasses – binoculars
- Your own Paddle/PFD- we will supply paddles and PFD’s for group but, if you prefer your own paddle and PFD, feel free to bring them along
- Ziploc® storage bags (to keep stuff extra dry in dry bag)
What is special about this trip?
The Small Cyclades are some of the best-kept secrets in Greece. These small islands are appreciated by the rich and famous for their remoteness and the traditional way of life which proceeds at a much slower pace than elsewhere. Banks and even ATMs are absent, but there are abundant small coves and beaches. And the local population is not exhausted with visitors - they are still truly happy that someone will come a long way to visit their home islands.
How do I get there?
After flying to Athens, you can depart for Naxos on a plane or ferry. We will meet you at the airport or port of Naxos Town.
What papers do I need for travel?
All US citizens require a valid passport to enter Greece. A visa is not required for citizens of the United States, Canada, and the European Union. If you are a citizen of another country, please check with your nearest Greek embassy for visa requirements.
Do I need to get any shots before traveling?
No inoculations are required for Greece.
How and where will you meet me?
We will have a copy of your travel itinerary so that we can meet you at the airport or ferry port on Naxos upon your arrival. A guide carrying a Northwest Passage sign will greet you.
How long will it take me to get there?
The flight to Athens is usually an overnight flight, leaving the U.S. in the late afternoon and arriving mid-day to late afternoon in Athens. Depending on the carrier and connection, you may overnight in another city en-route. Depending on the availability and schedules for transportation to Naxos, you may need to overnight in Athens.
Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan to arrive early or stay late, give the office a call for a recommendation on a great place to stay.
What money should I take?
The trip fee covers most of your costs. The only things you will be responsible for are lunches, drinks, one dinner, personal purchases, and gratuities. Lunches generally range 7-10 Euro. Dinner ranges 12-20 Euro. Personal purchases again vary- one can buy unique souvenirs made of olive wood for 5 Euro or get fine jewelry for significantly more… it’s up to you. Shopping opportunities are relatively limited in the Small Cyclades, but Naxos offers whatever you could desire.
What's the currency? Exchange rate? Where can I exchange money?
The Euro is the currency of Greece, and while some predict they will return to the drachma, this is unlikely and, in any case, Euros would continue to be accepted. For the most current exchange rate, there are several helpful websites. Oanda (www.oanda.com) will give you a handy conversion cheat sheet to take with you. You can exchange money at the airport (either Athens or Heraklion). Exchange rates at the airport may not be the most favorable and they often have higher commission rates and/or minimum commissions. There are ATMs at the airports which can be handy as there is not a commission, just the ATM service charge. Due to the limited services on the islands of the Small Cyclades, you may want to make sure you have sufficient Euros for the week before we leave Naxos.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?
Most of the larger restaurants and shops on Naxos accept major credit cards, but some do not. Most purchases in the Small Cyclades will require cash.
What's the weather like?
The weather in fall and spring is generally around 80° with lots of sunshine. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, including lip protection. A broad-brimmed hat that secures on your head can also be very helpful. Water temperatures in fall tend to be in the mid to upper 70’s. Spring water temperatures are significantly cooler (high 60’s). Air temperatures cool off at night to the point you may want a light jacket. Rain is unusual but does sometimes occur. A light rain jacket can be handy.
What are the accommodations like?
We choose to stay in the nicest family owned inns.
What do I need to bring?
Upon registering, we will provide you with a detailed clothing and equipment list to guide you in your packing. Casual clothes are the order of the day- no need for anything fancy. While paddling, your needs in the boat will be minimal. A small dry bag with a carabiner clip to keep it attached to the boat is very handy. Clear bags are helpful to be able to find what you need. During the day, you will want to have sunscreen, some Euros for lunch and the cappuccino stop, sunglasses with something to keep them tied on with (Croakies®, Chums®, etc.), water bottle (most folks will buy cold bottled water in the morning, eliminating the need to bring a water bottle), camera, mask and snorkel (if you enjoy snorkeling), small binoculars if you already have some, and a small pack towel. A pair of gloves can be helpful to prevent blisters. You do not need neoprene paddling gloves- these can be too warm. Any open fingered glove (including bike gloves, sailing gloves, golfing gloves) can work well (just figure that they will get quite wet). The key is to protect your palm between your thumb and index finger as that tends to receive the most friction. If you bring any items requiring electricity, be sure to bring both a converter and adapter plugs. These can be purchased at Radio Shack®, other electronics stores, travel stores etc. Let the salesperson know you are traveling to Greece and they can help you select the appropriate converter and adapter plugs for your equipment. Note that hair dryers, irons, and any other heat producing devices require a stronger converter than other devices. It is helpful to know the wattage of your particular equipment when purchasing the appropriate converter.
Can I drink the water?
The running water is potable and bottled water is available everywhere we stop. In the Small Cyclades, some water supplies may be shipped in, so bottled water may be preferable.
What's the food like?
Breakfast generally consists of fresh Greek yogurt with honey, bread, cheese, juice, coffee or tea, with eggs as an occasional option. Lunches and dinners are ordered off the menu which typically consists of Greek specialties such as moussaka, pastitsio, grilled meats and fish, spaghetti (doesn’t sound Greek but very popular), stifada (generally beef stew), etc. Greece is a meat- and fish-loving culture, but previous vegetarian clients have not gone hungry, enjoying dolmades (grape leaves), eggplant, zucchini, tzatziki (yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip), saganaki (fried feta), briam (similar to lasagna but all vegetables), Greek salads etc. There are also many gluten-free options.
What time zone will I be in?
For most of the time of year we travel, Greece is two hours ahead of Greenwich Time, which makes it 7 hours ahead of US Eastern Time, 8 hours ahead of Central Time, 9 hours ahead of Mountain time, and 10 hours ahead of Pacific Time.
How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
We will provide you with a list of our hotels including phone and fax numbers. You should also provide family/friends with The Northwest Passage number (800-RECREATE, 732-7328) as NWP staff will always be notified of any changes in the itinerary. You can call home using a calling card. Many of the hotels will have phones in the rooms. Keep in mind the time difference listed above. It can be helpful to remind family and friends about this also. Greek cell phones can be purchased with some minutes for local calls for about $50. Please check with your cell phone company in the U.S. if you intend to use your usual phone in Europe - rates can be unexpectedly high if you don't have an international calling/data plan.
How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
We will generally kayak 5-6 hours per day. The paddling is broken into multiple sections with plenty of time to explore the coastline, paddle in and out of sea caves and jump in and out of the water to cool off. We generally begin paddling at 8:30 each morning, then take a cappuccino break at a seaside taverna after an hour or so. We stop again for lunch after another hour or so and generally reach our next hotel between 3:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon. Distance traveled varies each day. Once we reach our destination, you will have some free time to shower, relax, and/or explore the town. We will generally offer some additional skill training for folks who are interested at the end of the day. Some participants have wanted to work on Eskimo rolling, paddling techniques, etc. Where possible, the van will be following our route, meeting us at the cappuccino stops and lunch stops, offering multiple options.
What kind of equipment do you use?
We have a combination of hard shell plastic doubles, singles and folding doubles. Some participants prefer to paddle in the doubles the whole time (paddling is a bit easier with two people powering the boat and the doubles tend to be more stable) and some prefer to trade on and off with the singles. We will provide kayaks, paddles, spray skirts and PFD’s (personal flotation devices) for all participants. If you prefer to bring your own paddle and/or PFD, you are most welcome to. Please let us know in advance so that we can pack the appropriate gear, especially if you have a particular need or unusual size.
How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
Our group sizes for this trip range from 6 to 16 participants. We generally have two guides on the water and one or two additional staff members as van drivers. Your guides will be knowledgeable Northwest Passage staff members who are highly skilled in all aspects of sea kayaking and wilderness travel and have years of experience leading groups. They all have training and/or certification in Wilderness First Aid.
How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
We have had participants on this trip who have never been in a kayak before and others who have been paddling for years. We have found that all levels of kayakers have enjoyed this adventure. A good level of personal fitness makes the journey more enjoyable. For kayaking, upper body exercises that strengthen your shoulders, back and arms are recommended. Strengthening exercises with free weights can be very beneficial. Upper body stretches and exercises such as rowing are also useful. Keep in mind that we have had folks at all different levels of physical conditioning thoroughly enjoy this trip and the van is always an option! It is extremely important that you know how to swim and are comfortable in the water. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns about your physical capabilities for this trip.
We enjoy the Small Cyclades because of their remote, unspoiled beauty. For the past five thousand years, since their apparent heyday in the third millennium BCE, they have remained well off the beaten track. The sense of serene solitude we will experience has welcomed rare visitors for thousnads of years.
The island of Keros appears to have been of greater importance than we may ever know. Recent excavations have suggested that this was a sacred island of pilgrimage during the Cycladic Island civilization prior to the beginning of the Bronze Age.
The Romans used them as a place to exile troublesome citizens, and pirates sometimes used them as hidden bases. We will enjoy using them as our own base for a week of blissful "exile" from the stresses of the modern world.