Santorini volcano:
Geologic study tour on Santorini, Greece

Program 2005: 6-day version

Dates / Price:
9-14 May 2005
Sept./Oct. 2005

800 EUR (6-12 part.)



Difficulty rating: easy

Comfort level: high

Geology - Volcanism - Archaeology - History - Culture

Walking tours, geologic excursions, meetings etc.:

Since 1997, Tom has been (co-)organizing walking tours, geologic excursions, and, occasionally, meetings on Santorini such as the 1999 workshop of the Working Group of the European Seismological Commission.

The 6-days Santorini walking tour is designed for small groups of people who want to explore at least parts of the fascinating natural and cultural history of Santorini in a limited time frame (4 full days on Santorini). The program consists of a series of excursions, which usually are far "off the beaten tracks". Focus 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 and Italian fluently, as well as 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)

If you are interested, please contact Tom via Email:

Upcoming dates:

20-27 Sep. 2004 (8 d.)
27 Sep. - 4 Oct. 2004 (8 d.)
30 April - 8 May 2005 (9 d.)
9-14 May 2005 (6 d.)
Sept./Okt. 2005

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. 


Program (6-days trip):

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

2. Day
Half-day walk (total ca. 3 hours, 8 km length, 200m climb down), 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
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 (3-4 hours, ca. 10 km, climb ca. 100m) 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.

4. Day
Whole-day excursion with private minibus, taxi, and boat and short walks (max. 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 (drive) to the top of Profitis Ilias mountain (556m) with its stunning views over the island group. From there, easy hike (ca. 2 hours) to the ancient Greek city of Thera, visit of its extensively excavated ruins. On the way observation of spectacular karst and faulting features of the limestone massif visit, that illustrate the origin of the Cycladic land massiv. Short drive 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 that were washed free by the 1650 tsunami, and a preserved small Roman temple, and Hellenistic graves cut into the mountain. Short walk to impressive pumice formations at the coast, perhaps coffee and/swim break at a beautiful beach. Continue with minibus through the variated landscape of the Akrotiri peninsula, where the oldest volcanic formations of Santorini are exposed (observation of a beautifully exposed scoria cone, marine fossiles as proof for the uplift of sea floor during volcanic activity, spectacular faults). The tour ends at the lighthouse at the tip of the southern peninsula with its magnificient views over the caldera and the neighboring island of Theraisa. Back at the hotel on late afternoon.  

5. Day
Whole-day boat trip (private small boat from the beach below the hotel) 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 afternoon (see photos taken during these trips). In the evening group dinner in a nearby beach tavern.

6. 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

Price: 800 EUR (Nov-April)
(6-12 Participants)

The price includes:

- 6 nights in double room with caldera view and bath, incl. breakfast (Greek breakfast buffet). Single room supplement: 100 Euro.
- 1x Greek lunch (incl. wine/water/coffee) during the walks (day 2)
- 3x dinner (incl. all drinks and extras) on days 1, 2, and 5.
- 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

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 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 excellent surroundings for small groups.


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):
The hikes in the program are all easy, but good general physical condition is important. The lengths range from 20 min. to 3-4 hours walking time, with maximum distances to 10 km and climbing a total of up to 200m uphill. You should preferably possess A minimum hiking experience and have no problems to walk over loose ground including climbing/descending on smaller steep passages. Most important, you should have a secure step, a good feeling for balance and no fear of altitude.

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; 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 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