Oil, toil, mud and sweat : do you have what it takes to experience the olive harvest in the Peloponnese ?
Next Departures :
5 to 11 November 2023 / 12 to 18 November 2023
3 to 9 November 2024 / 10 to 16 November 2024
Each November, the olive fields of the Peloponnese echo with the sound of industry, as farmers harvest Peloponnese’s expansive olive tree fields. Weather permitting, and after several days of hard work, the crop will be bountiful.
It is a long-standing tradition that during harvest, the whole village helps. Men, women and children join in to the best of their ability, whipping the olives out of the heavily laden trees, and onto a wide woven fabric below that is then gathered into a bunch. The olives are thus transferred into sacks, transported to the olive press at the end of the day, and there pressed into Peloponnese’s green gold : olive oil, extra virgin. After a hard days’ work, the village retires for a big dinner, where they recap the day’s events, comment on the harvest, and relax ahead of the next morning.
Traditionally, the olive harvest was hard, back breaking work done using sticks and pikes. In our day, the process is mechanical, using electric rotating whips and grips to whip and shake the olives from trees. It’s still hard, but much less than what it used to be.
Each season, I am joining the olive harvest in a field of 108 olive trees owned by my family in the village of Chalazoni, in SW Peloponnese. I am usually there during the first two weeks of November, and I am looking for up to 6 guests to join me – helping out in the field will be encouraged, but optional 🙂 We will be attached to a professional harvesting crew, and we will be given appropriate instruction in using the tools and gear, harvesting techniques, and safety procedures. Weather permitting we will participate in the traditional olive harvest for as long as we please. But in case it starts raining – and it always does – then tools are down until the next sunny spell, whether it is an hour, or a week away.. it’s how it goes!
In the afternoon, we will be resting and recovering while we become acquainted with the history, ancient lore, and cuisine of southern Peloponnese. We’ll enjoy a range of traditional dishes and flavours, with plenty of vegetarian or vegan options, and loads of great wine. All produce will be organic, and locally grown. I have planned a range of activities nearby, including visits to the world-renowned UNESCO heritage sites of Olympia and Mystras, trekking, photography and urban exploration.
What we will see
Day 1 : In the morning, we will set off from Athens towards the south of the Peloponnese, with a stopover at the magnificent Isthmus at Corinth. There will be a surprise urban exploration side activity, then we will take lunch at an extraordinary roadside cafe.
In the afternoon, we will arrive at the town of Kyparissia and proceed to the farmhouse where we will spend the rest of the week. We will tuck into a dinner of gyros, the ultimate street food and a Greek staple.
Day 2 : In the morning, we will join a crew of local workers in the olive groves and experience the techniques & traditions of the olive harvest first hand. We will enjoy a farmer’s pic-nic in the fields
In the afternoon we will explore the nearby town of Filiatra with its myths, legends and global connections. At dinner, we will sample the local kagianas, an egg & tomato scramble served with local smoked pork sausage called syglino
Day 3 : We will spend another morning at the olive groves. We can also do a spot of trekking to the nearby village, and experience the many ways the entire region participates in the harvest. We will then sit at the village’s kafeneio, the coffee / general stores that are focal point of every Greek village, and mingle with the locals over coffee, ouzo and snacks
In the afternoon we will visit the local olive press and learn about the history and process of olive oil extraction and grading. For dinner, we will head to Kyparissia to sample the delicious gournopoula or whole roast pork which is a delicacy that can only be enjoyed in this region.
Day 4 : On this day, we will take a break from the harvest to visit the magnificent Byzantine ghost city of Mystras with its many myths & legends – one of the most photogenic UNESCO heritage sites in Greece. We will take lunch at nearby Sparta.
We will return to Kyparissia for a free afternoon where you can explore the hustle & bustle of the upper and lower town
Day 5 : We will dedicate the morning to home cooking, and learn how to prepare and cook gemista, a slow and complex food made of rice-stuffed and roasted vegetables. We will enjoy those with barrel-aged feta cheese and strained yoghurt.
In the afternoon, we will visit an alternative local farm for a surprise activity, and we will easy drinks by the fireplace
Day 6 : In the morning, we will set off for Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games. We will tour the magnificent site and its museum, and take lunch at a local restaurant to sample Rooster with Pasta, a local culinary specialty reserved for joyous occasions.
We will set off for Athens in the afternoon, where we will be free to roam for the evening, taking in the best of the capital’s nightlife.
Day 7 : We will explore the flea market at Monastiraki, the island-like neighbourhood of Anafiotika and the herb and spice market backstreets of Athens. We will take lunch at a local mageirion, a day tavern serving traditional quick meals – such as goat or tripe soup – with a glass of local wine.
In the afternoon, we will visit the magnificent Acropolis of Athens to catch the sunset, and tour its world class museum. We will have our farewell dinner at the Bairaktaris tavern, one of the oldest restaurants in Athens.
Where will we stay ?
We will stay in cozy family owned hotels within walking distance of the Acropolis for our stay in Athens. We will stay at a village farmhouse in the south of the Peloponnese, where facilities are shared.
Where will we dine ?
Greek cuisine doesn’t need special introduction.. We will sample the region’s specialties, such as gournopoula and kagianas. We will try street food such as Gyros, and be at mageiria and kafeneia, the daytime vendors of hearty home cooked food and snacks. We will of course have Greek staples such as gemista and moussakas, and even learn how to prepare such dishes.
The price of the tour is £1899 per person sharing a twin room. The single person supplement is £300
The price includes :
- 7 day / 8 nights accommodation (including breakfast & taxes)
- All transport – public or private – we utilize as a group
- All entrance fees & tickets to places we will visit as a group
- Α 5kg container of extra virgin olive oil
- Experienced local English speaking guides at the heritage sites we’ll visit
- All meals except any meals taken during the two free evenings allocated
- An experienced, passionate, knowledgeable, tireless, and fun tour leader (that’s ME !!)
The price does not include
- Flights to and from Athens
- Airport Transfers (can be arranged for a fee)
- Personal (not as a group) expenses such as meals, transport, additional services, shopping, gifts, souvenirs etc
Terms & Conditions
Spaces : The tour is limited to max 6 guests
Deposit : The tour will be available to book up to two weeks prior to departure. To declare your interest and book, I will require a 10% deposit. This will remain fully refundable until the closing date above, or in case the trip doesn’t eventually go ahead.
The remaining balance has to clear by two weeks prior to departure, so I can be able to begin guaranteeing the remaining accommodation, transportation and dining for the group. I will regrettably not be able to refund you within two weeks prior to departure.
Length of stay : The next harvest will take place in November 2022. There are 2 departures, one on the 6th and one on the 13 of November 2022
Flights : Return flights to Athens are generally inexpensive in November. A low cost fare from London costs between £50 and £90 return – similarly low cost
Coach/Minibus : I will provide a coach or minibus with an experienced, English speaking driver for the duration of the trip
Transfers : Public transport from the Αiport to the hotel/meeting point costs EUR10 pp. There are buses that can take you directly there (every 30-40 minutes). You can also take the Metro to nearest station, or a taxi for EUR35. I will be meeting you at the hotel in Athens
Interested in joining me? Have any questions I haven’t answered yet? Contact me at email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions
Uhh .. how much work are we talking about ? You will not be required to work, but you will be invited to join in the traditional tasks associated with the olive harvest. It is manual work in a field, but nothing an able person can’t do. We’ll work together with an experienced crew, contribute to the best of our ability. There’s a variety of tasks relating to the olive harvest, and some are easier than others. There will also be a range of ancillary tasks like pruning, logging, supply or cooking you can help with, and of course you will always be able to throw the towel in and take the time off free and enjoy the best of the Greek countryside and the nearby villages. You can try some tasks, and then we can discuss what suits you best, but be assured that I would never ask you to do something you don’t feel comfortable with.
Whats the weather gonna be like ? The weather should be temperate (it was 23c in November 2021) but there is always a chance of a cold or rainy spell so be prepared ! There will be no work in the fields when the weather’s bad. But bad weather is part of the harvest process, and it doesn’t usually last long.
It’s too much for me, I don’t want to see the fields anymore: That’s totally fine – the trip isn’t strictly about the harvest or manual work ! We will visit farms, local shops, olive presses and experience the local history and culture through a variety of other side activities.
This is so much fun.. can I stay more ? : Absolutely, there is another departure back to back so if you want to extend your stay it can be arranged. The harvest lasts throughout November and sometimes into December.
Will there be time to do anything outside field work ? : Of course ! Because all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. I run tours in the SW Peloponnese, and I can guarantee you there are surprises in every turn, and very close to where we’ll be. I will lead, or be glad to join in some of these activities (ranging from photography, urbex, botany, sightseeing, and much more) but you will also have plenty of free time to explore nearby towns and villages on your own should you wish to.
What’s the situation with Covid19 : At the moment, Greece is open and welcomes guests from many countries. Please consult the official state guidance and also guidance from your country of origin for details. Local Covid19 guidance will also be observed while we’re in Greece.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or register your interest below for further info and reservations. I am looking forward to welcome you to the Olive Harvest in Greece !!