Valley of the Butterflies

Whilst working in Rhodes I had a couple of hours free one day and was determined to go to the beautiful Valley of the Butterflies. It was late in the season so I wasn’t certain if any of the butterflies would still be alive as the optimal time to see these lovely creatures whilst breeding is June-August.

It was my lucky day though, as although the trees weren’t covered in butterflies like they would be in peak summertime, there were still quite a few resting together letting everyone get a good look.

The valley is quite a cheap attraction to visit at only €3 for entry and you purchase your ticket there. If traveling by car it is easy to arrive to, however you can catch the buses from Rhodes city centre for €5.40 one way. The bus tickets can be bought either on the bus or at the ticket booth at the bus terminal. There are only two times per day the bus attends (9.30am and 11.30am) and leaves the valley (12.30pm and 3.30pm) so make sure you’re on time as if you miss the bus, you’ve got a pricey taxi ride back to Rhodes!

(View out from the Butterfly Monastery)

The valley is small and more of a mountain climbing adventure. Don’t be fooled like me thinking it would be relatively flat, so wear sensible shoes as Greece always has those slippery rocks! The entry is the middle point of the valley and you can climb upwards walking the wooden and stone steps to reach the monastery at the top.

Once you go up, you must come down and walking the stairs down is much easier then going upwards. If you are concerned about the walk up, the valley offers a little bus service for a €4 fee that will drive you to the top, so then you only have to walk down.

(Lighting a candle out of respect)

At the other end walking to the bottom of the valley you will find some little restaurants and a small butterfly museum with native animals (dead and stuffed!) from Greece to view. I’d recommend doing this after you have seen the monastery so you can have a leisurely lunch or drink before heading back to town.

So you have a bit of information about the butterflies, every year they migrate to this area as they are attracted by the smell of the sweet Oriental Sweetgum trees. The butterflies are from the rare species called Panaxia Quadripunctaria and are black and brown with white stripes, but when they open their wings a beautiful shade of orange can be seen on the two bottom sections of their wings. However, we shouldn’t be seeing these beautiful butterflies in flight as their main reason for being in this valley is to breed and lay their eggs for the next season of butterflies to hatch, grow and repeat the process.

Unfortunately, human disturbance is causing a detriment to the population as loud noises cause these gentle insects to flutter about, wasting their valuable energy. Most people when visiting don’t realise that whilst in the mating season, these butterflies don’t eat, and I mean literally, no food is consumed at all. As they don’t eat they need to conserve their energy and if disturbed this causes them to waste this valuable energy and results often in death before procreation can occur.

Human interference has seen a decrease in breeding over the past 5 years as the tourism in the area has increased dramatically. There are measures to help prevent noise such as education to visitors, signage and reduced levels of visitors at one time. From my experience though, it doesn’t seem to be working as well as they hoped. I heard many people shouting, clapping and running about that caused many butterflies to take off in flight.

This is such a beautiful natural site that I would really encourage all to visit in the earlier months of June-August to see a huge population of butterflies covering the trees, compared to only the few butterflies I saw in September. Just remember, if you are going to attend, please be respectful of the environment you’re in. If not, we may lose access to seeing a beautiful event like this every year.

♥ Love from Leah