Daphne | Butterflies are Free | TripElina


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Butterflies are Free

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If you happen to be in Rhodes during the summer months I strongly encourage you to visit the Valley of Butterflies (Petaloùdes, Πεταλούδες),  a natural park located 23km from the capital Rhodes.  Every summer, tiger moths, known as Panaxia Quadripunctaria – a species of butterfly which are common in the Mediterranean, Europe and Western Asia - gather. 

As you make your way through the park, which is like a maze of walkways, waterfalls, rock pools, rustic bridges and resting places, you’ll notice that the air is permeated by a sweet smell from the pine and especially the zitia trees that excrete an aromatic resin – smells like vanilla – which  is said to attract the butterflies. It’s the valley’s microclimate, with its exceptional flora, that creates the ideal environment for a large population of caterpillars to live on the trees and feed on their tender leaves.  Towards the end of May and early June, the caterpillars are transformed into beautiful moths (though the Greeks like to refer to them as butterflies) and they follow the river beds into the valley which is almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of them.

What makes this valley so unique and famous during the summer is the millions of moths gathered on the trees, in some cases covering entire tree trunks, resting for the night. It’s truly a unique phenomenon to behold, with their deep red or multicolored wings hugging the trees – truly extraordinary.   Not to mention the incredibly impressive sight they make when they’re all in flight.  Spectacular!!!

This lush valley surrounded by huge rocks, century-old trees and the flowing crystalline water, has a narrow pebbly pathway with wooden bridges that will guide you through a kaleidoscope of rare beauty and butterflies galore and will lead you to the Monastery of Virgin Kalopetra, built by Dimitri Ypsilanti in 1782.

At the park’s entrance there’s a small, interesting Natural History Museum where you can learn more about the valley and its distinctive ecosystem. There’s also a souvenir shop and a restaurant.

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