A unique nature reserve is to be found inland on Rhodes, “Butterfly Valley” (in Greek “Petaloúdes”). Apart from its aesthetic value, it is also the site of the only natural forest of Liquidambar orientalis (Oriental Sweetgum trees) in Europe, and a resting point for the Jersey tiger (Panaxia Quadripunctaria), a nocturnal moth. An excellent place for families with children who wish to enjoy the beauties of nature and examine the life cycle of butterflies as part of their summer holiday.
You can take a peaceful walk through the shaded, green valley with its small river and beautiful waterfalls. You are permanently surrounded by butterflies camouflaging themselves against the tree trunks as you walk up towards the monastery at the top, or rest for a while on one of the wooden benches along the way.
Visitors can witness a spectacular phenomenon which occurs only rarely in nature. Huge numbers of butterflies congregate in this small valley during the final stage of their life cycle. Every year, at the end of the wet season (late May), thousands of butterflies attracted by the scent of the Oriental Sweetgum trees cover the entire landscape. They are actually adult insects that follow the waterways and migrate here to reproduce (females leave for other suitable areas to lay their eggs in the early fall) due to the high humidity of the area.
Hush, hush..butterflies are resting here…The moths cannot eat during this final phase of their life cycle, so they rest here to conserve energy. Any loud noise would force them to fly away, thereby consuming valuable energy. Observe them as they “sleep” well-camouflaged in black and yellow; in flight their cherry-red overwings flash. If you are quiet and still, they may even land on your arm –that would make a wonderful photo!
Complete your tour with a visit to the Museum of Natural History:
In the Valley of the Butterflies, there is a museum housed in a nicely restored Italian house of the 30s. Here you will find extensive information about the flora and fauna in the reserve. The most interesting part of the museum is the hatchery, where a number of butterflies reproduce in a protected area in stable climate conditions and an ideal environment.
Petaloúdes is located in the northern part of the island, 26 km from the town of Rhodes, and 6 km from the western coast. Starting from Rhodes city you will find the valley between the villages Paradísi and Theológos along a small road that heads inland. Buses will also take you there.
Need help making travel arrangements in Greece? XpatBookings is a one-stop-shop that helps expats and travelers with their travel needs in Greece!