6 Days, 5 Nights|
*Special First year Price
Guides, ground transportation, lodging, meals per itinerary (B, L, D), all kayaking equipment, and instruction.|
Air or ferry to Naxos, ferry tickets if necessary during the program and from your ending island to your next destination, lunches, drinks and one dinner, personal clothing and accessories, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, airport taxes and gratuities.
Looking for a new twist in your Mediterranean travels? We continue our tradition of exploring the gorgeous Greek islands by kayak as we island-hop through the Cycladic islands. Come ready for challenging paddling as we comb the shores of Naxos, weave through the Small Cyclades islands, pause on the shores of Ios and conclude with a demanding day-long open water crossing to what maybe Atlantis itself-the famed island of Santorini. Designed for only the strong, experienced and confident kayaker, we will travel light, carrying all gear in our kayaks as we paddle these beautiful and remote coasts. This trip will include open-sea crossings in variable and unpredictable conditions; applicants subject to approval.
Day 1: Arriving by ferry or plane to Naxos, Northwest Passage guides will meet you at the airport or port. We ask that you arrive before the afternoon. As our time together begins, we will introduce our fleet of kayaks and paddling equipment. Depending on the weather, we will then paddle in the bay. During our first evening together the group will discuss the route and plans for the week, and review weather reports. D
Day 2: We will start off the day by paddling down the western shore of Naxos as we make our way to the first open water crossing of the trip. After our lunch stop we will go over crossing strategy and then begin the five mile stretch of open water. Weather permitting after the crossing, we will circumnavigate the island of Schinoussa before heading to our home for the night on the island of Irakleia B,D
Day 3: From the island of Iraklia we plan to spend the day working our way along the shores and crossing open water to Ios. We’ll then paddle south along the shoreline of Ios to the beautiful beach at Manganari. As we paddle south along Ios’ shoreline we’ll catch our first glimpse of Santorini—the endpoint of our most ambitious open water crossing. B,D
Day 4: Weather permitting, today is the big day! If conditions are favorable, we’ll paddle south through 12 miles of open water to Santorini, and watch the island expand in size and detail as we go. Upon reaching the island, only a short paddle to the protected bay below Oia remains. We stow our boats and walk up the caldera hillside to our spectacular hostel for the night, overlooking the incredible caldera and promising a world class sunset to remember. Dinner is on your own tonight to give you a choice of the numerous restaurant possibilities in town as well as a chance to set you own schedule for the evening.
However, if weather conditions preclude open water paddling, we’ll fill the day with scenic hikes on Ios and paddling practice around Manganari. B, D
Day 5: To celebrate yesterday’s successful crossing; we’ll explore the very cool and usually protected caldera, checkout Santorini’s island neighbors to the west, Nea Kameni and Thirassia, or maybe even go for a partial circumnavigation of Santorini itself. However, if the previous day’s weather didn’t allow for open water paddling, we’ll embark on the audacious crossing today. Regardless of the day’s activities we plan to enjoy a celebratory dinner reflecting on the week’s adventure. B, D
Day 6: After breakfast, we’ll have a few hours to walk the streets of Thira and purchase any last minute keepsakes or gifts. For those interested in one last adventure, consider paddling from our hotel to the other side of the island before heading to the airport. We will then transport you to the Santorini airport** by 11:00am allowing you to make necessary connections. B
Note I : 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, especially since this elite trip involves extended open-sea crossings. 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.
**Note II: Special attention needs to be paid to travel arrangements. This trip does not begin and end on the same island. Weather delays put your departure location and date at risk. Our office staff is happy to help discuss the ideal travel options to meet your specific needs. Please call or email for additional information.
Trip details: Our planned accommodations for the week may include inns, rent rooms, windmills or deluxe tent camping. Our trip is only partially supported by van and ferry. You should plan to pack your kayak with all of your luggage. As noted above, you will be ending the trip on a different island from where you started.
**This itinerary is subject to change.
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)
- 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
- Paddle/personal 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?
This trip combines the unforgettable travel destination of the Cyclades Islands, Santorini in particular, with a challenging world class sea kayaking trip. In our opinion, the Cyclades are the best warm water paddling destination in the world, so don’t miss out if you’re serious about your paddling!
How do I get there?
After flying in to Athens, you can either take a ferry or plane to Naxos. Ferries run several times a day, and give you a taste of the Mediterranean’s beauty before the adventure officially begins.
What papers do I need for travel?
All US citizens require a valid passport to enter Greece, which should be good for six months after your intended date of return. 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 have a copy of your travel itinerary, and meet you at the port or airport. A guide wearing a Northwest Passage shirt and carrying a Northwest Passage sign will greet you upon arrival.
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. There are flights out of Athens to Naxos. We end the trip on Santorini, and you may depart by ferry or plane back to Athens or to your next Greek destination. Returning from Athens, most flights back to the U.S. are in the early morning, usually requiring an overnight in Athens the last day of the trip.
Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan on arriving early or staying 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. Santorini offers some upscale shopping opportunities.
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 ATM’s at the airports which can be handy as there is not a commission, just the ATM service charge. There are also ATM’s in Matala, Plakias and Agia Galini. Some of the hotels where we stay will also exchange. Some shops do exchange money but their rates are often high.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?"
Many of the larger shops and tavernas accept major credit cards, but some places only accept cash. ATMs are available in most of the populated areas on Santorini.
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?
In each town that we stop, we choose to stay in the nicest family owned inns and hotels. Each has attached bathrooms, and many have balconies with a sunset or sunrise view!
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. A walking stick can be extremely helpful on your hike through the Samarian Gorge. Full hiking boots are definitely not necessary and can be much too warm. Many find that cross trainers/sneakers work well. We have also found that many prefer sandals (e.g. Tevas) with socks. Having your feet get overheated is the most common source of blisters. Keep in mind that the Samarian Gorge is all downhill which takes its toll on knees and ankles. 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. 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! You will have an option to leave a bag at the hotel in Matala where we stay provided you have a flight out of Heraklion in the afternoon of the last day or are overnighting in Heraklion after the trip. On the final morning, we will be returning to Matala before heading into Heraklion, giving you a chance to pick up any bags left in Matala. This has been a popular option as folks often have more than they need for the week of paddling. 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 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, tzatzki (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, which makes it 7 hours ahead of US Eastern Time, 8 hours ahead of Central Time, 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?
On the typical paddling day, we’ll spend about 5-6 hours on the water and cover between 6 and 24 miles. On the Naxos to Santorini crossing however, we’ll be on the water all day. So eat a good breakfast before that one!
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. One of our van drivers is George, a local Cretan with a wealth of knowledge about and love for his native land. Your other 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?
Participants must be prepared to paddle continuously all day on the open water crossing from Naxos to Santorini. On this crossing we experience open water conditions, so participants should be comfortable in rough water, excellent swimmers comfortable in the water, and proficient in water rescues. This trip is for strong, confident, experienced paddlers only. The open water crossings are up to 12 miles and long enough in time and distance for conditions to change unpredictably after launching.
Participants subject to approval.
Naxos is truly a Greek island of the gods. According to mythology, Zeus, king of all the Greek gods, grew up on Naxos. His mother kept him hidden on Naxos, away from the ferocity of his father, Cronus. The son of Zeus, Dionysus, is also said to have been born and raised on Naxos. Dionysus was the god of wine and feast, and loved the island of Naxos so much that he ensured it would always have fertile lands, full of vineyards know for their excellent wine.
One legend tells the tale of the princess Ariadne of Crete, who after helping Theseus kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth, was abandoned on Naxos. Dionysus found her on the island, fell in love with the young princess, and took her to Mount Drios where, from there union, Oinopion (Wine Drinker), Staphylos (Grape) and Evanthi (Lovely Flower) were born.
Historically, Naxos was the center of civilization for the Cyclade Islands. Naxos was first inhabited by the Thracians. Their ancient culture thrived on Naxos for two centuries, until the Careans settled on the island, replacing the Thracians. It is from the Carean leader, known simply as Naxos, that the island got its name.
In the 7th Century BC, the Ionians came to Naxos, bringing with them the concept of sea trade. During this period Naxos became wealthy and one of the more developed civilizations in the region.
Santorini is a volcanic island located in the Aegean Sea, about 120 miles from Greece's mainland. While it's ancient Minoan name of Thera came back into use during the 19th Century, Santorini remains as its colloquial name.
The earliest evidence of habitation on the island of Santorini dates back to the Bronze Age (3000-2000 BC) when an impressively advanced civilization, known as the Minoans, flourished. Excavations of the island show that the Minoans lived in multilevel buildings with the earliest know plumbing systems that carried both hot and cold water into homes. Santorini is a volcanic island, and so it is most likely that the Minoans utilized the thermal heat for their access to hot water. Around 1450 BC, however, a volcanic eruption demolished the Minoan civilization on Santorini. While unable to recover from this disaster, much of our knowledge about the ancient Minoans is due to the city preserved underneath layers of volcanic ash and pumice. The entombed city reveals a wealthy society with merchant warehouses, textile weaving, and beautiful, hand-painted murals.
After the destruction of the Minoans, the island remained uninhabited for the remainder of the Bronze Age. It was hundreds of years before Santorini was occupied once again. The Phoenicians, an enterprising maritime trade culture that flourished in the Mediterranean between 1550BC and 300BC, were next to settle on Santorini. Not long after the time of the Phoenicians, during the 9th Century BC, an ancient tribe of Greeks called the Dorians settled on the Santorini. The Dorians founded a city called Mesa Vouno, the remains of this city, now known as Ancient Thera, can still be visited today. The city was used as a trading and military port, but slowly declined in importance. It remained inhabited until 726 AD, when a small eruption covered the city in a layer of pumice and it was finally given up.
The island was settled and renamed after “Saint Irene” by the Franks during the 13th Century Crusades. From 1579 until 1821, Santorini remained under the control of the Ottoman Empire. It gained its independence, along with the rest of Greece during the Greek War of independence. In 1830, Santorini was was united as a part of Greece under the Treaty of London.
Today, Sanotrini's industy relies primarily on tourism during the summer months. Its rich volcanic soils and indigenous grapes, however, support a small, but flourishing, wine industry. The unique and prized wine the island produces is called Vinsanto, which in Italian means “holy wine”. The sweet and strong wine is made from the best sun-dried grapes and is then ages in barrels for twenty to twenty-five years. The result is a sweet, dark amber-orange dessert wine with aromas of citrus and minerals, layered with overtones of nuts, raisins, figs, honey and tea.