Experience the countryside of Mistra and Selmun
Malta has a beautiful coastline and countryside that has a unique Maltese flavour. Rubble walls and limestone footpaths provide a distinct contrast from the busy towns.
October to April will find the countryside green and abundant with flowers intertwined with a history that covers hundreds of years. We have teamed up with Steve Vella (Dip. Agric. and author of www.maltawildplants.com) to offer guided walks through some of Malta’s beautiful countryside. Steve brings considerable knowledge of Malta’s fauna and flora to lead you on the walk and help you experience Malta at its best. We have put together a selection of walks, short and long, for the young and old. Your walk will be so much more interesting with our friendly guide explaining about the nature you encounter and taking you through several ‘secret’ paths to see the best panoramic sites of the northeast of the island.
Type of walk:
This is a peaceful walk along grass pathways and rock stepping. Due to the nature of Maltese topography some pathways are steep. Recommended for any ages and people who are in good state of health and can make long walks. Difficulty level for this 8-9km walk is ranked as moderate. However no fears, as there are several stops during the walk when some interesting plant or panoramic view is met. General knowledge about the islands is given during the walk. There will be ample time for short rests, own-exploration and photography. The leader is an expert photographer himself so you can abuse for some great photos!
What you should bring:
- Comfortable trekking shoes (open samdals / flip-flops not recommended).
- Photo camera (a must!)
- Light snacks, fruit and water (a must!)
- Adequate clothing for the weather
- Sun block and cap for tours in May, June and October which can still be hot
- Small binoculars can be useful for bird watching
- Swedish translation + basic German (at extra cost for translator)
What nature to expect:
The Mistra area is blessed with a profusion of flowering plants and trees. Depending on the season, one should expect to see, orchids (e.g. Anacamptis pyramidalis, Ophrys bombyliflora and Ophrys fusca), endemic or sub-endemic plants (e.g. species of Romulea, Cistus, Iris, Periploca and more), red carpets of honeysuckle or poppies, snapdragons, asphodels (e.g. Asphodelus aestivus), borages (e.g. the medicinal Borago officinalis and the honeywort – Cerinthe majus), mustards, aromatic plants (mints, fennel, etc), the curious squirting cucumber, and much more. We will also be accompanied by the various fauna that we encounter on our way such as lizards, butterflies and, if lucky, the camouflaged chameleon.
Detailed description of full day tour:
Duration: Full day tour, typically 9.30 am – 4.00 pm
- We meet at 9:30am at the parking area of the Xemxija Fire Brigade - also known as the Xemxija Civil Protection - very close to Xemxija rebuilt church.
- An introduction speech is given, while we start our tour in the wonderful countryside of Mistra area adorned by various plants typical of Mediterranean flora. Accompanying our walk are also several spectacular views and natural landscapes. This tour has several sites of a certain geological or historical importance. Our resident expert will fill you in with all details about wild flowers and natural sites explored.
- We then arrive at the colourful Mistra Bay, and we walk along the valley lined by the giant Reeds, rushes, and some wild buttercups. Later we climb our way to Selmun Palace in fresh air sometimes fragrant by the French Daffodils.
- The next part is a walk along agricultural area with numerous fields growing local vegetables and fruit such as artichockes and pommegrantes.
- In the afternoon we explore the rocky and high plateaus of Selmun while we walk towards the World War II Fort at the East coast.
- We descent the cliffs along a safe footpath overlooking Saint Paul's Islands (Selmunett).
- Final leg is a peacful walk by the coast of Selmun/Mistra and back to our starting point.
- We should finish our adventure around 3:30pm.
Tours normally take place from Saturday to Tuesday, but sometimes this is flexible over other days depending weather conditions. To make reservations, please contact Mr. Steve Vella at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill the reservation form.
Season Special Events:
January - February :
- Experience the coldest month in Malta, +14C ; well not much impressivly cold for Northern Europe habitants! Ideal for long walks and excercise such as that offered by this tour
- January-Fe is a good month to explore vegetation in rock pools, including few endemic sub-/endemic species like Zannichiella or Callitrache. We also see the Orchid of Mesaritica, (which is studied for endemism) Narcissus and Smilax amongst the most prominent flora.
- During this tour one can see a number of early-flowering Orchids, the Mediterranean Heath, and many other native plants including some endemic (Malta-only) plants!
You do not have to worry about transport - all tours include our own transport which is much cheaper then taking a taxi or less troublesome from taking a bus. If you have your own transport (e.g. hired car) inform us to give you directions of meeting point of the tour. Please note that we cannot wait late-comers by more than a tolerable 15mins.
Prices vary according to the group size, transport, pre-paid lunch and special customised conditions. Prices start from just 25 Euro per adult for standard tours.
Photo Gallery of this tour:
Picturesque view of Mistra Bay and Selmun area in hues of blue and green during winter and spring.
This area is characterised by several limestone slopes and cliffs that offers many scenic views.
Cliff edges are part of our guided tour and they give lovely views like this, azure sea and St. Paul's islands further away.
Photo of St.Paul's Island. It is told in the Bible, that the Apostle St. Pail shipwrecked on Malta in 60 AD. possibly in this area
Some part of the walk are easy and plain as this footpath lined with several native trees and terraced fields
Other parts are slightly more roughly terrained as seen here but compensated by air filled with native herbal aroma or flower fragrance along most of the way in the countryside. The Mediterranean heather, with conspicuous pink flowers, is a delight of many tourists.
In Winter, we would encounter the native French daffodil, one of the most elegant and fragrant flowers in Malta. Mistra at the background.
On the other hand, we also meet strange non native species (alien plants!) like this large Agave.
Places of historical or archaeological importance are part of our way. This is the coat of arms of the GrandMaster Pinto of the Order of Saint John on a 17th century redoubt.
Here is another masterpiece from the Order of Saint John - the palace of Selmun.
On our way there is a Restaurant from where one can buy drinks, snacks or need of public convenience. Ocassionally, some tours included a lunch from this restaurant, but it takes 90 mins from the walking tour and all tourists wanted this option.
Traditional wine-making recipients also from the same restaurant.
Saint Paul's Island, one of the 5 islands of the Maltese archipelago
Photo from one of the previous tours.
Group photo near Selmun Palace in Spring 2007.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How can I book this tour?
You make your reservation from the contacts page [click here] either by writing an email or by filling the online form. We correspond back with you. If you are in Malta and do not have an internet access, you can phone (20c/min) or sms (2c/sms) on our helpdesk mobile phone and tell us your name/hotel room and hotel accommodation, then we phone you back. There is no obligation upon making a reservation, unless you order coach transport from us (in that case there is a deposit fee)
Q: If I take the bus option and I get late or lost?
The bus routes in Malta are far more simple than rest of Europe/US and the [bus guide] provided on the website makes life so easy that it is impossible to get lost (unless you fall asleep in the bus!) In case of delays of few couple of minutes, please phone the excursion leader from the Xemxija Fire Brigade Department (just at the meeting spot) for a feasible solution.
Q: What if it rains in the middle of the excursion?
It's still nice :-) unless you forget a light waterproof jacket and/or boots. Please have a look in the morning at the local weather forecast. (also on TV teletext of your hotel). The forecast of the day is quite accurate. If it gets impossible during the tour, we stop till the restaurant (half way) and you get half the money back.
Q: Can the tour be cancelled?
Yes in very difficult weather conditions (storms, ice hail or extreme wind) the tour is cancelled, or better to say postponed to the next date. In such rare cases, you will be informed at your hotel or own phone number early morning.
Q: I am old and not physically active, shall I come?
Although it is mostly plain walking, there are some elevated slopes that one should consider, and perhaps it is safer not to risk if you know that you have such fatigue trouble. Please bear in mind that we cannot nurse people who get too much tired quickly, as it will ruin the fun and value of the others. Despite this, the walk has several mini breaks and discussions stops about Maltese nature, so it is not a marathon sort of thing.
Q: What are the prices of the tour
Please contact us as soon as possible since from last year, the prices vary according group size, transport conditions and season of the year, making it overall cheaper from the previous years! Typically Prices are 24Euro per adult but can vary slightly. For example large groups tend to have discounted prices and an extra guide from MTA.
Q: Is there any lunch included
During these type of nature walks, it is not always possible to find a restaurant on the track, so lunch is always taken outdoors (picnic-style). You can bring your own food with you or else for an extra 5 Euro you will be served our maltese-style lunch.
Dean Gugler and Fleur-Ange Lamothe, Canada
Read their letter on Sunday Times of Malta: [click here]
Capricorn, The Netherlands
I really enjoyed this tour, observing all these flowers with detailed explanations from the expert tour leader. Despite a bit long, time flied quickly because there is always something new to see, and if not there are some interesting flower to keep our ears listening. The scenery was spectacular most of the way. Pity we got dull clouds at the end.
Neil, Sandra and Dylan, UK
It was a fantastic tour, well-organised tour in a very beautiful country with many wild plants even in the small cracks of rock. The views of Selmun were fantastic and I particularly found the battered barrack interesting, despite fouled by trash. I suggest that Fort Campbell shall be restored as it can offer a high touristic site. The walking pace was right and stop on demands was greatly appreciated.
Sandra, Matilda and Heather, Scotland
Despite in our sounded 60s, we have enjoyed this nature excursion very much, thanks to the knowledge of Steven, the well organised track, and the fact we were a very small group and thus personal attention and stops-on-demand were possible for us. I will not forget easily the fragrance of the Maltese fleabane. We also think that the price was very reasonable and well spent for us. We will definitely book a dfferent tour, maybe the one in Gozo. Highly recommended behalf of us.
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