Santorini volcano:
Geologic study tour on Santorini, Greece

Dates / Price:
5-12 June 2005
Sept./Oct. 2005

1200 EUR (4-10 part.)



Difficulty rating: easy

Comfort level: medium-high

Geology - Volcanism - Archaeology - History - Culture


The tour version Santorini Volcano has been designed to maximise overall comfort, geology interest and limiting physical effort. It is similar to the popular Fascination Volcano program, but the more extensive use of private minibus and taxi transfers during the program allows us to minimize the physical effort needed and to include a number of geologically interesting spots that are otherwise difficult to reach. The tour gives a good overview of Santorini´s geology and volcanic history in a limited time frame and at a very relaxed pace at the same time (5 full days on Santorini).
The 5 excursions of the program are usually shorter hikes, combined with transfers by minibus, taxi, and boats. They usually end in the early afternoon, and for those who feel like doing some longer hikes as well, walks of 2-3 hours length are offered as facultative extensions after the end of the program.

Focus of the tour is Santorini's outstanding, text-book quality volcanic features as well as its natural beauty. You are assured first-hand knowledge and competence of the island; Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist and tour guide, has lived on Santorini for many months doing field work and guiding geologic walks. In addition, he speaks German, English, Danish, Italian and Greek fluently, as well as fairly well French.


Cliffs and tuff layers of Santorini Santorini´s capital, Fira

"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-days trip):
- 12 June 2005

1. Day
Arrival and transfer to the hotel, welcome dinner.

2. Day
Introduction to Santorini´s geology and volcanism. Drive with minibus/ taxi to an old pumice quarry atop its spectacular caldera cliffs with interesting volcanic formations, remnants of Ancient settlements. Explanation and illustration of geologic dating methods (e.g. preserved charcoal in volcanic tuff layers etc.), observation of numerous types of volcanic rock layers. Short walk/descend into a secluded bay (ca. 30 min. 200m climb down), observation and explanation of the typical volcanic sequence of Santorini. Extensive swim and lunch break including Greek specialties and wine. Opportunity to collect ore minerals, bath in a warm thermal spring. In the afternoon, transfer back to the hotel by boat (weather dependant) and bus/taxi. The short boat ride  goes along the impressive southern caldera walls. In the evening, visit of a small traditional wine cave in the charming traditional village of Megalochori and dinner in a nearby local restaurant. 

3. Day
Short walk to and visit of the nearby excavations where a 3600 year-old Minoan town has been covered by pumice and ash from the large Minoan eruption around 1645BC. 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 easy walk (ca. 1 hour, ca. 2 km, climb ca. 100m) along the spectacular cliffs of the northern part of the caldera to the picturesque town of Merovigli. Explanation of the caldera formation of Santorini. Along the way visit of the remnants of a Venetian castle, eroded stratovolcanoes, and observation of fossil stromatolites that proove that the caldera in parts existed prior to the eruption. Rest of afternoon at free disposal (arranged transfer back to hotel).
Facultative extension: walk (ca. 2 hours, 6 km) along the northern caldera rim to watch sunset and have d
inner in the picturesque town of Oia. Taxi or bus transfer back to the hotel.

4. Day
Whole-day excursion with private minibus, taxi, and boat and a short walk (ca. 2 hours) to interesting outcrops, viewpoints and other sights: drive to to oldest medieval village of Santorini, Pyrgos with a visit to its Venetian castle, continue to the top of Profitis Ilias mountain (556m) with stunning views over the island group. From there, easy walk (ca. 2-3 hours total) to the ancient Greek town of Thera, visit of its extensively excavated ruins. On the way observation of spectacular karst and faulting features of the limestone massif, that illustrate the origin of the Cycladic land massif. Short descend along an ancient trail, passing at a cave with a spring, down to Kamari black sand beach. Lunch and swim break. Short boat trip around the impressive cliffs of the limestone massiv to the opposite beach of Perissa. Visit of Roman ruins uncovered by the 1650 tsunami near the beach. Afternoon and rest of day at free disposal. Arranged transfer back to hotel by taxi or bus.
Facultative extension: ca. 2-3 hrs easy hike (ca. 8 km) back to the hotel along a series of
Hellenistic graves cut into the mountain, spectacular ash tuff formations along the shore and impressive pumice canyons.

5. Day

Short hike (1-2 hours) from the hotel to a beautifully exposed tuff ring that developped into a scoria cone. Cross section of a small volcano with dyke and its old lava-filled crater. Trtansfer to a viewpoint where the oldest volcanic rocks of Santorini are preserved. Marine fossiles as proof for the uplift of sea floor during the early volcanic activity, spectacular faults. After lunch in an excellent fish tavern, the tour ends in the early afternoon at the lighthouse at the tip of the southern peninsula with its magnificient views over the caldera and the neighboring island of Theraisa. observation of fossile sponges. Transfer back to the hotel in the early afternoon.
Facultative extension: ca. 2-3 hours hike (ca. 8 km) back through the varied landscape of southern Santorini.

6. Day
Whole-day boat trip (private boat) to visit the youngest historic volcanic island of Nea Kameni (craters, lava flows and domes, fumaroles, iron-bearing springs, sulfur crystals, huge cooling fractures of lava domes). Short hike to the summit craters of the volcano. Lunch and swimming break on Therasia. Slow round-trip close to and along Santorini's spectacular inner caldera cliffs (an unforgettable highlight!) and return to our hotel in the early evening (see photos taken during these trips).

7. Day
Day at free disposal or facultative additional excursion. In the evening group dinner in a nearby beach tavern.

8. Day
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

40,000 year-old plant fossiles in volcanic ash tuffs

Price: 1200 EUR
(4-10 Participants)

The price includes:

- 7 nights in double room with caldera view and bath, incl. breakfast (Greek breakfast buffet). Single room supplement: 180 Euro.
- 3x Greek lunch (incl. wine/water/coffee) on days 2, 4, and 6.
- 3x dinner (incl. all drinks and extras) on days 1, 2, and 6.
- All necessary transfers on Santorini (incl. pick-up from and to airport/ ferry)
- 3 boat-trips as described in the program (depending on weather conditions)
- Wine-tasting and all entry fees
- Accompanying material
- The English-German-Greek speaking geologic guide

The price does not include:

- travel to Santorini
- extra meals and drinks


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 me directly at: tpfeiffer@decadevolcano.net.

Additional information:

Arrival to Santorini:
In order to let everyone plan his trip individually, arrival to Santorini is private, but we can help with information for flight and ferry schedules.


Our hotel is located at the beach near the village of Akrotiri, at the southern end of the island and next to the world-famous archeological excavations. The quiet environment, away from the hustle and bustle of Fira, the variety of picturesque beaches nearby and directly in front of the hotel, its modern facilities, the beautiful rooms, all built in accordance with local character, provide friendly comforts and atmosphere. It is a perfect departure point for our excursions and guarantees you relaxing and enjoyable holidays.
On the beach right next to the hotel, a series of excellent beach taverns invite for delicious dinners. More local taverns can be found in the nearby historic of the village. If you want to go out for example in Fira in the evenings etc., a bus stop is right at the hotel. Alternatively, a short and unexpensive taxi ride will bring you anywhere on the island in less than 30 minutes.
On the hotel's own website you also find 360-deg Photos of the hotel terrances and the interior of the rooms.


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, swimming gear, a pullover or jacket for the evenings.

Physical requirements (Important):
The hikes in the program are easy, but good general physical condition is important. The lengths of the hikes range from 20 min. to around 2 hours walking time, with maximum distances to 6 km and climbing of a total of up to 200m up- and downhill involved. You should have no problems to walk on some shorter passages over loose ground and on normal unpaved walking trails. Most important, you should have a secure step, a good feeling for balance and no fear of altitude (views onto the caldera from 300+ m above!).

The tours include frequent and sometimes longer breaks and the pace of walking is very relaxed. Keep in mind that the hiking program is flexible. For example in case of excessive heat or otherwise unpleasant conditions, the program can be changed to everybody´s advantage.

If you have any doubt, please contact me personally and I can advice you.

Booking / Contact information:

If you are interested in this programs or want to make a booking, please contact me directly (preferred via email):

Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist - your field guide

Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist, Ph.D.
- Volcano Discovery Tours -
Department of Earth Sciences,
University of Aarhus, Denmark
Tel: +45 86198387 (priv.) - 86422570 (uni.)
Fax: +45 86139248

Email: tpfeiffer@decadevolcano.net