8 days, 7 nights|
Guides, ground transportation, support vehicle, lodging, most meals (breakfasts and all but one dinner), all kayaking equipment, instruction and entry fees for the archaeological sites.|
Air or ferry to Kos, lunches, drinks and one dinner, personal clothing and accessories, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, airport taxes and gratuities are not included.|
Kos is renowned for its sandy beaches, calm waters, ideal weather, locally made wine and exquisite food. As the birthplace of Hippocrates, the famed father of medicine, we say it's just what the doctor ordered.
By day we will explore the natural beauty of this island, with its golden sandy beaches and mountainous landscape from the unique vantage point of our kayaks, but as evening falls we will return to land and enjoy Kos's celebrated cuisine, wine and nightlife.
Day 1: Your Northwest Passage guides will meet you at the National Airport of Kos, Hippocrates, or at the port. Exact meeting time will be determined once travel arrangements have been made. First, we settle into our accommodations in the main town of Kos. In the afternoon we have time to explore the town and visit the surrounding ruins of the Asclepion or the crusader-era castle. Don't miss the plane tree allegedly planted by Hippocrates himself in the town square.
If time allows we will get out on the water and conduct our introductory sea kayaking clinic. 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 fresh and energizing breakfast, we head down to the shore for an introductory kayaking lesson. We paddle past seaside towns, beautiful beaches and the blue-domed churches, enjoying a mild first day out on the water as we practice our paddle strokes. Tonight we stay in Tigkaki, a bay renowned for its calm shallow waters surrounded by a long sandy beach. As usual, we end the day with a well-earned dinner of fresh local cuisine accompanied by another glowing sunset. (B, D)
Day 3: We start the day with a hearty breakfast and pick up where we left off, continuing southwest along the coast of Kos. The landscape here becomes increasingly wild, remote, and beautiful. After lunch and a chance to stretch our legs in Mastichari, we will push onwards toward Limionas, a beautiful area of the island, characterized by its red rocks. Once we have had enough for one day, our trusty van will be waiting to transport us back to our hotel. The evening will be spent basking in the warmth of the local Greek hospitality, food and culture. (B, D)
Day 4: We're up early this morning to get a good start on the beginning of our longest and most breathtaking day, as we plan to round the southern point of Kos. The contrast between the turquoise waters and the white cliffs will keep your mind blissfully occupied as we explore inlets along the coast. We will enjoy a picnic lunch along the way, at which point participants have the option of boarding the van to return to town. Continuing along the coast, we will eventually come to the town of Kamari, where we will end our day of paddling. Give yourselves a pat on the back - if you choose to do the entire paddling day, you'll have paddled almost 17 miles today! A well-earned shower, dinner and bed awaits us all tonight. (B,D)
Day 5: Today we back off a little on the pace - this is a vacation after all! Our total mileage today is very light. We will have the opportunity to take our time exploring the coast. Our destination for the day is Paradise Beach, the most famous on the island of Kos. Lunch will be on your own, as there are many options here. Paradise beach is popular with locals and tourists alike, offering sunbeds, umbrellas and restaurants with Greek and international cuisine. After our restful day of paddling and exploring Paradise Beach, we will gather back at the hotel for dinner, drinks and another beautiful sunset. (B, D)
Day 6: Today we depart Paradise Beach, and head for a small village just north of Kardamaina. Throughout the day, as we near our destination, the mountains will come into view, offering a dramatic change in the landscape.. Lunch will be in town at Kardamaina. The mileage for the day allows time to explore the town shops, restaurants and sights. Our final destination is a few miles north of town, and once everyone has enjoyed the offerings of Kardamaina we will continue onto our hotel where we will enjoy relaxing dinner overlooking the Aegean Sea. (B, D)
Day 7: Our last day will be a long, but rewarding one. Due to the steep nature of the terrain in this last leg there are fewer resting points, but strengthened and rejuvenated from the past week on Kos, it will seem like a breeze! Your reward awaits you at our predetermined lunch location (picnic style), Therma Beach. These hot springs, rich in potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur and chlorine, are ideal treatments for rheumatism, arthritis and long days of kayaking. Once we are fed and refreshed we will continue on to complete our circumnavigation of Kos, returning to our starting point in the town of Kos. 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)
* Note: This is our intended itinerary. 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 PFDs for the 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)
Kos is sometimes spelled Cos; if you are looking for information on-line, check both spellings.
What is special about this trip?
Kos is a famed Greek island but is still well off the paddled path for most adventurers. While it is a touristically developed island, the coastline is exceptionally beautiful and the local water colors are intense. Many of our clients in the medical professions will enjoy this opportunity for a healthy, challenging trip to what many regard as the birthplace of modern medicine. We think Hippocrates would approve!
How do I get to Kos? Kos has a small airport, Hippocrates or Ippocratis Airport (code KGS) and can be reached by air from Athens or Thessaloniki; there are a few international flights to Kos as well. It's also possible to take a ferry to Kos from Athens or major islands such as Naxos or Rhodes. The islands have a well organized ferry system and it can be an enjoyable way to travel.
What papers do I need for travel?
All US citizens require a valid passport to enter Greece; it is recommended that the expiration date is at least six months after the end of your intended trip. 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 when entering or leaving Greece.
How and where will you meet me?
We will meet you on Kos at the harbor or airpot. We will have a copy of your travel itinerary and a guide wearing a Northwest Passage shirt and 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. Flights or ferries to Kos may require extra time or an overnight in Athens, depending on your flight arrival schedule.
Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan on arriving early or staying late, be sure to call the office beforehand if you’d like a recommendation for a good place to stay, either in Athens or in Kos.
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.
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 in Athens. 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 no commission, just the ATM service charge. Some of the hotels where we stay will also exchange. Some shops do exchange money but their rates are often high. In the main towns of Paros there will be ATMs, but it's a good idea to have cash on hand.
It's also a good idea to talk with your credit card company prior to any international trip, so sudden foreign charges are not questioned. You may also want to find out the details of their extra charges for foreign transactions, if any, so there are no surprises once you return home.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?"
Some of the larger shops accept major credit cards, but many shops, restaurants and vendors only accept cash. So be sure to stop at an ATM in the more populated areas as some smaller towns do not have them.
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?
Each night we choose to stay in the nicest family owned inns and hotels. They are all very secure and have bathrooms in each room.
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. 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.
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 easily. 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. The rest of your gear can be loaded in the van in the morning. Packing your gear in flexible bags (e.g. duffle bags vs. hard suitcases) is preferable. A common comment from participants at the end of the trip is that they brought much more than they needed- added extra clothing to what was on the clothing/equipment checklist and regretted it in the end. Simplicity is the order of the day- less is more!
Can I drink the water?
The water is safe to drink in all the areas we visit. However, bottled water is readily available everywhere and quite inexpensive so most folks choose to drink bottled water.
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. Selections for vegetarians are more limited but previous vegetarian clients have not gone hungry, enjoying dolmades (grape leaves), eggplant, zucchini, tzatziki (yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip), saganaki (fried feta), Greek salads etc.
What time zone will I be in?
Greece is two hours ahead of Greenwich Time. During the period that we normally travel it's Daylight Savings Time, so this 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.
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, ranging from 6-24 miles. 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. Each day, the van will be following our route, meeting us at the cappuccino stops and lunch stops, offering multiple options. You can paddle to the cappuccino break, then hop in the van to the lunch stop, then paddle again in the afternoon. Or start with a van ride and paddle later in the day. The choices are endless!
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.
The history of Kos is entangled with its two most famous personages - the Greek god of healing, Asclepius, and the human doctor Hippocrates. Though called the "Son of Asclepius", Hippocrates is more renowned as the legendary creator of the oath that carries his name. Because of the island's association with medicine, it has long been visited as a place of healing, and prospective patients traveled to the island in ancient times to seek cures at the Temple of Asclepius and by doctors trained in the Hippocratic methods.
Located in the southwestern Aegean Sea, just three nautical miles off the coast of Turkey, Kos was long a bustling port in the trade routes between Asia and northern Africa.
Like many of the Greek islands, Kos has been subjected to the influence of various rulers since ancient times. It was first an outpost of the Carians of Asia Minor. Then came the Minoans, the Myceneans, the Dorians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Ptolemies, and the Romans. In more modern times, the island was part of the Byzantine Empire, was a based for the Knights of St. John during the Crusades, and then was ruled by the Venetians. Like most of Greece, it eventually fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire, where it remained long after most of Greece was independent. In 1912, it was taken by the Italians, who inaugurated an extensive building program on the island and much of the architecture dates from that period. In 1948, Kos finally reunited with Greece.
Through part of its history, Kos was known for its production of silk. It's also known for its thymian honey, produced by bees feeding on the thyme plants growing abundantly on the slopes of Mount Dikaios. The aroma of these plants may also have contributed to Kos's reputation as a health-giving island.