“ Sightseeing Type: Tours „
While we were in Crete this summer 2009 we had our two young grandsons with us so we were limited as to the sorts of trips we could go on as their interest in Cretan ruins was limited but they really love animals and seeing them in the wild.
We discovered quite by chance that it was possible to see turtles or terrapins by going up the Almiros river estuary in Giorgiopolis. I think they may be a Balkan terrapin or Mauremys rivulata rather than the sea turtles or Loggerhead Turtles that lay their eggs on the beaches of Crete and are the ones being protected by a number of charities today.
Our small grandsons are very interested in wild life and so this was absolutely perfect as Giorgiopolis was only a few miles down the coast from Gerani where we were staying. We were advised that you could go at any time during the day but we felt that we would like to go early before the sun got too hot so we arrived at Giorgiopolis at about 10 o' clock when the pedalo place opened.
We found a place to park the car near the beach and walked back through the town and across the bridge and down towards the river mouth. There was a lovely large pelican who posed proudly on a fishing boat just under the bridge. The boys were very interested in his beak and discussed the fact that he could catch fish in that huge beak. He very obligingly flew off and landed on the river to demonstrate his fishing ability.
We hired two pedalos as it was 5 Euros per person and we could have had one pedalo each but that would have been very hard work. We had to pay for one of the boys but in exchange he got a 'free' T shirt with a turtle on it. Our daughter and family had one pedalo and my hubby and I had the other. They were quite smart looking pedalos with a sun shade over the top which we needed as even at 10am it was hot and we were out for an hour or so.
Going up river was quite hard work as we were going against the tide/wind. The river was quite narrow with reeds and grasses either side. Directions were a little vague as to where we had to go to find the turtles and initially we went up a dead end and had to do a 3 point turn in our pedalo up the dead end and pedal back and round into the main part of the river again. I can assure you this is not easy in a narrow tidal river with floating weed and reeds growing along the banks - it was more like a 10 point turn in the end.
Just by the bridge the large white pelican had returned to the boat and was cleaning itself while we pedalled past and we were escorted by a few geese that seemed to know that our grandsons had some bread to feed the turtles and were hoping for a bit - not much chance as they were nibbling this turtle bread themselves. I am sure if we had given them stale bread for lunch they would have had something to say but because it was for the turtles it tasted so much better.
We were the first pedalos to go up the river and I am so glad that we were as there were so many coming up the river as we went back towards the sea that I am sure we would have not managed to see any turtles at all.
We got to the end of the branch of the river and we were so lucky as we saw a few turtles up at the this end and we there alone for about ten minutes before the next lot of people arrived. There were a couple of babies and about 4 or 5 adults and they did eat the bread that we threw to them too. As I said I am so pleased we got there first as the next lot of people to arrive were a little noisy and they were being followed by another half dozen pedalos. We decided that as we had had a good look we would try and get out before we were blocked in by the wave of pedalos arriving.
Turning round was quite tricky in the river with the current flowing but luckily it was harder work going out than it was on the return that is until we got under the bridge and closer to the river mouth and then it became quite choppy which added to the challenge. Pedalling like mad we returned to base feeling that we had had a wonderful experience seeing these lovely terrapins in the wild and had also had our exercise for the day too.
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At the mouth of the river Almiros in Georgioupolis you hire a pedallo and can go up river to see terrapins in their natural habitat.