Fascination volcano:
Geologic walking tours on Santorini, Greece

- Program 2006 -

Geology - Volcanism - Archaeology - History - Culture


This walking tour for a small group (max. 12 participants) explores the fascinating natural and cultural history of the volcanic island of Santorini. The program is a series of excursions, which usually are far "off the beaten tracks", with focus on Santorini's outstanding, text-book quality volcanic and geologic features, as well as its natural beauty and cultural history. Your tour guide, volcanologist Tom Pfeiffer, has first-hand knowledge and competence of the island. Since he has worked on Santorini since 1997 and lived there for many months doing field work, he also knows many local people. In addition, he talks German, English, Danish, Italian fluently and fairly well Greek and French.

Cliffs and tuff layers of Santorini Santorini´s capital, Fira
40,000 year-old plant fossiles in volcanic ash tuffs

"Hi Tom, Thanks again for the super week on Santorini! It really was the experience I expected and I would heartily recommend your trip to anyone interested in combining a holiday on the Greek islands with geologically fascinating day walks. Well done!"
(Bob Davenport, Bremen, Robert-Anton.Davenport@astrium-space.com)

Program (8/9-days trip):

1. Day (Sat)
Arrival and transfer to the hotel, welcome dinner and short introduction to Santorini's volcanic history.

2. Day (Sun)
Half-day walk, starting at the hotel, along the steep caldera cliffs with magnificent views , observation and explanation of the typical volcanic sequence of Santorini. Descend into a secluded bay, with extensive swim and lunch break including Greek specialties and wine. Opportunity to collect ore minerals, bath in a warm thermal spring. Transfer back to the hotel (boat trip along the southern caldera walls if sea conditions permitting). In the evening, visit of a small traditional wine cave in the charming village of Megalochori and dinner in a nearby local restaurant. 

3. Day (Mon)
Whole-day walk on the scenic southern peninsula. Observation of the oldest exposed volcanic rocks, a typical cross-section of a small volcano (cinder cone, crater with dike and lava-lake), marine fossils. Lunch in a small tavern on the way. Along the way swim breaks possible.

4. Day (Tue)
Short walk to and visit of the nearby Minoan excavations, coffee/ swim break on the beach of Akrotiri. Local bus transfer to the capital Fira, visit of the archeological museum, extended lunch break at free disposal (opportunity to buy souvenirs, send postcards etc.). In the afternoon half-day walk along the spectacular cliffs of the northern part of the caldera to the picturesque town of Oia. Visit of the remnants of a Venetian castle, eroded stratovolcanoes, tuff rings, ancient graves and observation of fossil stromatolites. Dinner in Oia, famous for its brilliant sunsets. Taxi or bus transfer back to Akrotiri.

5. Day (Wed)
Whole-day boat trip (private small boat from the beach below the hotel) to visit the historic volcanic islands of Palea and Nea Kameni (craters, lava flows and domes, fumaroles, bath in warm, iron-bearing springs, sulfur crystals). Short hike to the summit craters of the volcano. Extensive lunch and swimming break.

6. Day (Thu)
Whole-day walk to the Profitis Ilias Mountain (556m) and the excavated ancient Greek town of Thera. On our way coffee break in the medieval town of Pirgos with its Venetian castle, lunch snack under the shadow of trees next to the ancient Greek theater. The excursion ends in Perissa with its famous black-sand beach on the early afternoon. Rest of day can be spent on the beach (with bus or taxi transfer back to the hotel arranged, or facultative hike back along the coast and through impressive pumice canyons).

7. Day  (Fri)
Day at free disposal or additonal walkkíng program

8. Day  (Sat)
8-day version: departure / OR:
9-day version:
Half-day boat trip (private small boat) inside the caldera, likely to become an unforgettable highlight of the tour. After a lunch- and swimming stop on Thirasia island we sail slowly along Santorini's spectacular inner caldera cliffs and return to our hotel for a free afternoon (see photos taken during these trips). In the evening group dinner in a nearby beach tavern.

9. Day (Sun)
Departure or prolonged stay on Santorini.

Note: the order of days and the exact program might change slightly.

break during a hike

terrace at our hotel

Swimming in warm iron springs...

A volcanic pumice bomb from Nea Kameni

walk onto Profitis Ilias mountain in spring

Fumaroles on the active crater of Nea Kameni

Sulphur crystals in the active Georgios crater on Nea Kameni

Price: 950 EUR (8d.) / 1075 EUR (9d.)
(6-12 participants)

The price includes:

- 7(8) nights in double room with caldera view and bath, incl. breakfast (Greek breakfast buffet). 
- 3x lunch (Greek picknick or in taverna incl. wine/water/coffee) during excursions (days 2, 3 and 5) 
- Dinner (incl. drinks) except on day 5 
- All necessary transfers on Santorini (incl. pick-up from and to airport/ ferry) 
- 2(3) boat-trips as described in the program (depending on weather conditions) 
- Wine-tasting and all entry fees 
- Accompanying material 
- English-German-Greek speaking geologic guide

The price does not include:

- travel to Santorini
- extra meals and drinks

*Single room accommodation:

The supplement for single room occupancy is 150 EUR. If you are willing to share accommodation with another group member during the whole trip and if I can locate another person of the same sex, no supplement is needed. If however, no other client willing to share a room can be located, the single room supplement is split in half, i.e. you only need to pay 75,- EUR extra for the single room.


Individual arrangements:

For complete groups (tourist groups, school classes, hobby geologist groups, etc...) and individuals with specific interests (e.g. geological excursions, filming etc.), I can help to or arrange individual programs. 
If you are interested, please contact Tom via Email: tpfeiffer@decadevolcano.net

Additional information:

Arrival to Santorini:
In order to let everyone plan his trip individually, arrival to Santorini is not included, but we will be happy to help with information for flight and ferry schedules.

Our hotel is a charming family-run pension. The building with superb views over the caldera is located in the traditional village of Akrotiri far away from the crowded tourist centers. All rooms have terraces and view onto the sea, and a nice beach is just about 50 m down the cliff (private stairs) inviting perhaps to an evening swim at sunset...Its location, the familiar ambience and the friendliness of the keepers provide a surroundings for our small group.


Preceding/ additional days:
Santorini as well as nearby islands have a lot to offer for a much longer stay. This tour is an excellent departing point to explore more of it. If space available, previous or following nights at the same hotel can be booked without problems. Also, recommendations for other places to stay/ activities can be given.

Recommended reading: Fire in the Sea
Previous participants have suggested to mention Walter Friedrich's popular bestseller at this place . Fire in the Sea is not only by far the best and pleasantly written book about Santorini's natural history available, but it can be used as the perfect introduction to this excursion. Since I have worked with Walter on Santorini (and a little bit on the book), they are closely connected.

Walking boots or similar, sun and wind protection, a day-backpack, light dressing, a pullover or jacket for the evenings.

Walking boots or similar, sun and wind protection, a day-backpack, light dressing, a pullover or jacket for the evenings.

Physical requirements (Important):
Good general physical condition is required. You should preferably posess a minimum hiking experience in mountains and have no problems to hike over loose ground including climbing/descending on smaller steep passages (although no real climbing, i.e. use of hands necessary). Most important, you should have a secure step, a good feeling for balance and no fear of altitude.

The difficulty of the hikes varies from easy to intermediate for alpine mountain standards. As a rule of thumb, distances of up to 10-12 km and climbing of up to 500 m during a full day (i.e. 6-8 hours) but in hot weather should not represent a problem. The tours include frequent and sometimes longer breaks and the pace of walking is very relaxed. However, individual tours (i.e. the total time spent outside the hotel, including all breaks and transfers etc.) can range between 6 and 12 hours, depending on the season (longer days in May!), weather and the program. The following is the maximum hiking effort that you might be confronted with:

Hike 1: horizontal distance ca. 8 km, total climbing down and up ca. 180 m, total walking time ca. 4-5 hrs.
Hike 2: horizontal distance ca. 10-12 km, total climbing up and down ca. 200 m, total walking time ca. 5-6 hrs (can be extended to ca. 16km and 6-7 hrs on a faculative part).
Hike 3: horizontal distance ca. 10 km, total climbing ca. 100 m, total walking time ca. 3-4 hrs.
Hike 4 (boat trip to volcano islands): horizontal dist. ca. 2 km, total climbing ca. 150 m, total walking time ca. 2-3 hrs.
Hike 5: horizontal distance ca. 10-12 km (can be extended to ca. 18 km on the facultative part), total climbing ca. 400 m, total time ca. 7 (facultative 10) hrs.

Note: Keep in mind that the hiking program is flexible; some parts of the hikes are facultative (usually at the end, when a part of the group can return by car, whereas others might like to enjoy hiking back with the guide). Also, in case of excessive heat or otherwise unpleasant conditions, the walking routes would be shortened significantly. Even during the hikes, it is usually possible for individuals to shorten a piece and/or take alternative routes, in combination with transportation by bus or taxi, and then regroup with the rest later.

If you have any doubt, please contact Tom personally for advice.

Booking / Contact information:

If you are interested in any of these programs or want to make a booking, please contact Tom or Tobias at http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/volcano-tours/contact.html -

Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist - your field guide

Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist, Ph.D.
VolcanoDiscovery Tours