Jun 15, 2016

Botanical Park of Crete: A homage to Cretan soil


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The Botanical Park of Crete lies in Fournies, 17km from the center of Chania, and by extension, from our Akali hotel. Within a matter of 20 minutes by car, our guests can find themselves in a botanical oasis, amidst 20 hectares of lush greenery.

Situated at the foot of the White Mountains, the initiative for creating the Botanical Park is poignant as it rose... like a phoenix, from the ashes of a calamitous fire that wiped out most of the surrounding territory. Over 60,000 olive and orange trees of over 400 years of age were burned to a crisp, as well as 150-200m2 were devoured by flames. 

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The concept of the Botanical Park is to give back to nature, it is about sustainably appreciating the wealth of Cretan soil, promoting healthy living and awareness for its visitors. There you will find a calm artificial lake, the Park’s oasis of biodiversity, and numerous species of flora and fauna, in most cases, endemic to Crete. 

Visiting this park is a perfect alternative for a day-out; instead of lying on one of Crete’s gorgeous beaches (and yes we have many!), you can decide to change your scenery...substitute the beach for a lake, the sand for a biodiverse landscape yet you won’t have to change your attitude: you will relax, the educational way! A visit here will leave you feeling serene and tranquil, albeit being pleasantly informed as you take the walking tour of the various gardens.

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The Gardens are separated between Flora and Fauna and together showcase the natural biodiversity of, but not only, Crete as there are also plants and creatures from three different climate zones! 

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Flora:

Orchards of fruit trees (olives, cherry, oranges and many more) await you to discover their fragrant aromas and blossoms, a tropical plants section, as well as a Mediterranean herb hub containing many native plants of Crete. Last, but surely not least, the vineyard gardens; in terms of vine selections, Crete is a focal point as it was the grape variety ‘bridge’ between east and west. 

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Fauna:

Wild birds, farm animals and Cretan species adorn the grounds with their nonchalant presence, completely at ease and grateful for their eden-like home. The Park is a safe-haven for the indigenous goat, Aegagrus, that used to be all over the island. However, as their numbers have depleted over the years, they can only be seen in the Park’s protective environment and at the Samaria Gorge. Finally, the butterfly world will utterly enthuse you, as these gentle and enchanting insects flutter and float around you, adding something of a fairytale to your day…Interestingly enough, there is a myth behind the butterflies that just might ...melt your heart!

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Facilities:

The Botanical Park has a multi-purpose concept as, through bringing the native goodness of Crete to the forefront and by preserving its biodiversity, it is part of Crete’s Agrotourism attraction; the park has an open air amphitheatre which is used for presentations and events pertaining to Crete and its culture: food tasting events and presentations of traditional dances, even concerts or wedding receptions!

The in-house restaurant provides a selection of organic dishes, using local, fresh ingredients procured from within the grounds, served on an impressive balcony that overlooks the lush green landscape of the park. Cooking classes are sometimes arranged, showcasing Cretan products of the season, as well as the traditions and diet. The shop stocks a variety of local products such as extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, honey and mountain herbs which you can take back with you. 

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Recently honoured with the Silver in “Accessible Tourism” at the Tourism Awards 2016, the Botanical Park is an excellent, alternative day-out venture which will be a fun and educational way to spend your time, for children and adults alike! 

Get to know the more natural side of Crete, only 20 minutes away from Akali Hotel.

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