Andonis Annitsakis, born in Chania, has two passions: the art of cooking and the wild beauty of the Cretan mountains. Annitsakis has spent many years in creative cooking (8 years professionally), searching, studying, experimenting and modifying old recipes. He is also into home farming and producing part of the fruits and vegetables which the team uses during the workshops and the outdoor lunches. When he is not near his casserole you will find him hiking, restoring or tracking old paths in the southern region of Sfakia, his favorite place on earth. He has a great knowledge and respect for the natural environment, history and local culture of Crete. He is also a wine lover and a great fan of craft beers.

How do the experiences you offer Natour Lab give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of Crete?

The culture of Crete is experienced through off the beaten track tours, by meeting  the locals and finding the links of the past and the present via gastronomy and visits to landscapes undistorted by massive tourism.

Hiking in Sfakia, a mountainous area in the southwestern part of the island of Crete, next to the Lybian Sea.
Hiking in Sfakia, a mountainous area in the southwestern part of the island of Crete, next to the Lybian Sea.

How have the tours that you offer evolved since their inception?

We wanted to combine our two big passions, gastronomy and nature. We started in 2013, offering cooking lessons in Milia Mountain Retreat and we gradually moved on to offering unique travel experiences to places that we personally loved visiting. The next step was to invest on a mini van so as to transfer small groups of people. This year our team grew bigger with our Phd archaeologist, in charge of the old town tours and its fascinating history.

What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?

Let’s start from the gastronomy section. All snacks and meals provided in our activities are all products cultivated by our team and by producers who we personally know and trust their growing procedure and farming methods. So every bite is ethical, organic and delicious.

Outdoor lunch Sfakia Panorama tour
Gastronomy is an important component of Natour Lab. Meals are prepared with fresh, seasonal and organic products from local producers.

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?

We would like our guests to know that their guides are the founders and owners of Natour Lab so as to keep the quality standards high and we would not risk anything less than that. When choosing to participate in Natour Lab you probably form your most intense memories of your trip.We are not offering our tours in online platforms . Although it’s much harder to reply to emails through our contact form, it is better to communicate in person with our future guests so as to mutually design  the best possible tour according to their needs and expectations.

What is one piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize their enjoyment of the experiences you offer?

Our guests don’t need to have any special equipment whatsoever. We will provide them with with the most important one;a big smile from start to finish and lots of endorphins of happiness that will guarantee a lifetime memorable experience.

Elafonisi Beach
Elafonissi (some people also call it Elafonissos or Elafonisi) is something like an island and a peninsula, because to reach the island you have to walk through the sea. It is located in the southwest end of the prefecture of Chania, Crete, about 70km from the city of Chania. Elafonisi is a place of an exceptional natural beauty, and it has been included in the Natura 2000 Protection Program.

What is one travel trend that really excites you?

We do not belong in any current travel trend. We are forming our own trend. That is, the feeling of travelling with some local friends whilst experiencing professional services. Experiencing the security offered by local hosts and a network of special professionals who will give you the best insight of Crete.

What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?

Our tip is to mingle with the locals. Staying in a touristic bubble will leave you with no authentic experiences. If you visit a place you need to meet the people, discuss with them, learn their life perspective . Another important tip is for our guests to leave their problems behind, relax and be ready to live experiences and fulfil their senses with emotions.​

Local bee farm visit
Cooking workshops include visits to olive groves, orange fields, vineyards, and honeybee gardens. Guests come across free range animals and smell indigenous plants and herbs. They meet in person the people who cultivate the Cretan land and supply organic raw materials.

What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?

​  Our strategy is simple. We are simply being ourselves, doing our job happily and making our guests equally happy and satisfied. The rest is done by our customers by writing rave reviews and spreading our project by word of mouth all over the world.

What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?

In cooking i always use excellent raw ingredients and the process of cooking is carried out in perfection. Respectively, in our hikes, the land of Crete offers excellent travelling experiences and Natour Lab makes sure every detail of the trip is designed to perfection.

Sfakia dramatic landscapes
Natour Lab seeks to promote a more responsible traveling approach and to give visitors the chance to activate all their senses, by exploring the diversity of the landscape, interacting with nature and discovering local gastronomy.

Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.

We once had a very strict teacher with us. She was really giving us a hard time throughout the tour, constantly asking questions and making us feel that every single thing was being judged. At the end, she told us that all her life she had never given a 10/10 in a test. She would give us an 11/10 because we give  heart to what we do, that’s what she said. Last year her daughter also joined one of our tours. She was surprised to hear our story and she confirmed that her mother had never given a 10.

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