Botanic Garden Crete
The majority of visitors to the Botanical Garden are foreign tourists with rental cars. But also Greeks and excursion busses are around the Botanical Park in Askordalos. After having paid the entrance fee in the restaurant, the round tour through the park begins. In the first cut, one sees hundreds of different tropical trees. All are exactly signposted. Many blossomed during our visit in May. Also in autumn, this section of the botanical garden of Crete is certainly interesting. Then many of the foreign trees bear fruit.
This is followed by the herbs and spices section around the Mediterranean. After many different cherry trees you have to decide if you want to walk the long way or the short circuit through the botanical garden. We recommend the long way.
There is a small zoo on the lake shore, which is especially popular with children. You can see beautiful peacocks and geese walking freely in the park.
Donkeys, deer and goats of the Cretan wild goat species Kri-Kri are housed in enclosures. A serpentine path follows steeply upwards back to the entrance. The ascent leads through the vineyards, citrus trees and fruit trees of the Mediterranean region. After a total walking time of just under an hour, you return to the starting point at the restaurant.
The inscription of the plants is exemplary, but unfortunately only in Greek and in English. Hundreds of plants are marked with signs. If you can speak English or Greek, you will also find the short descriptions of the plants exciting.
For less fit people, the path is feasible because you walk slowly. If you find it too difficult, you can decide to take the shortcut (short circuit) after about half of the way. You don't have to descend to the lake and climb up again later. The path through the park has many steps and some steep sections. The trail is not well suited for people with walking disabilities, frail people, prams or even wheelchair users.
You should take drinking water with you. During our visit in May 2016 every visitor got a bottle of half a litre of cold water for free at the entrance. But on hot days you should take more with you.
The restaurant at the entrance or exit is recommended. Some classic Cretan dishes, partly on a charcoal grill, are prepared. The restaurant is not overpriced. Most main courses cost less than 10 euros (as of 2018).
For free, by paying the entrance fee, one gets beside the small bottle of water also a little brochure about the botanical garden and a small piece of orange from an orange tree in the park.
There's a good place in the restaurant. Local food such as honey and olive oil is sold. Besides there are some very good books about the flora and fauna of Crete, partly also in German. Cookbooks (Cretan cuisine) are also offered.
The history of the Botanical Garden in brief: In October 2004 a fire destroyed the region. Tens of thousands of olive trees and orange trees were destroyed in the fertile area. The livelihoods of the villagers were destroyed from one day to the next. A young native, who had previously left home to study, returned and convinced the villagers of his idea of a botanical garden. The park opened in 2009 and became a top day destination for many tourists in the Chania and Rethimno regions. The location on the edge of the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) is also ideal. A day trip to the Botanical Garden can be wonderfully combined with a trip to the Omalos plateau in the Lefka Ori (White Mountains). As is typical in Greece, the Crete Botanical Park was created by a private initiative. We find the idea grandiose and worth supporting.
The English name of the parks is "Botanical Garden and Parks of Crete". We like the slogan of the Botanical Garden: "Where nature embraces the senses".
Approach Botanical Garden Crete
On the expressway Rethimno via Chania to Kissamos take the exit direction Omalos in Chania. One always drives in the direction of Omalos. The Botanical Park is almost next to this road. The entrance is well signposted, one sees many flags of different countries beside the road. The park is located between the villages Fournes and Lakki. The mountain village Omalos Crete and the big city Chania are each about 20 kilometres away.
Theoretically you can also take the bus