The best way to experience and interact with nature is by engaging in outdoor activities – nowhere is this more true than the beautiful island of Cyprus, where this year’s Walking Festival (March, 4 – May, 13 2018) offers visitors the chance to explore the delights of the country in the great outdoors.
Though petite, the island of Cyprus boasts an impressive and diverse landscape, making it a destination ripe for exploring and rediscovering time and again. Its subtropical climate allows visitors to enjoy the great outdoors largely year-round – spring and autumn are perfect for being out in the wild, while in summer visitors can still enjoy early morning or evening hikes.
The Walking Festival invites visitors to “explore the nature trails of Cyprus from the enchanting coastline to the pine clad mountain peaks.” It is organised by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Forestry Department.
Cyprus has a total of 52 designated walking trails, on the other side, North Cyprus has over 30 walks. Whichever side of the island you decide to visit, you are bound to enjoy the uniqueness of Cyprus in its entirety.
Whether you want to explore narrow footpaths leading to green canopies under pine trees, or dirt roads winding through vast fields of olive trees, with the sea beckoning from a distance, there are a number of paths or tracks, short or long walks along the coast or into the mountains – the choice is yours.
‘Fikardou – Archontides restaurant’ trail
Date of the walk: Wednesday, 28 March and Sunday, 15 April 2018
The trail introduces visitors to ancient houses that still stand among the ridges, where you can appreciate nature under the green canopy and smell the intoxicating aroma of pines and almond trees. There are a handful of residents living in this old village. The journey starts off from the church of Fikardou village, and hikers can enjoy the magnificent view of Lefkosia and the surrounding area.
‘Kato Amiantos – Loumata ton Aeton’ trail
Date of the walk: Sunday, 22 April and Sunday, 29 April 2018
The trail passes through the scenic hillside, starting from the main road between Kato Amiantos – Karvounas village road. The linear train follows a slightly hilly route beside the Loumada river. From up the hill, the views of Kyperounta village and the Amiandos mine are beautiful. The trail also provides an opportunity to view the radiant Amiantos (diamond) lake officially referred to as ‘Loumata ton Aeton’. At the very top of the trail sits a natural forest and a hideout used during the freedom struggle (1955-59).
Date of the walk: from Lemesos – Sunday, 6 May 2018; from Lefkosia – Sunday, 13 May 2018
This trail is specially organised for people in wheelchairs, though it also open to other visitors as well. The trail goes along a narrow paved road, passing through thick forest of pines trees – some of which are more than a century old. There is a perfect viewpoint from where visitors can admire the panoramic views of Solea Valley and Chromium River. A variety of plants can be found here as well – they include Troodos viper-grass and golden oak among others.
Though these walks have already taken place, they give a good idea of what to expect for future editions of the festival.
‘Aphrodite’ ‘Sea Caves – Agioi Anargyroi’ – ‘Konnoi’ trail
Date of the walk: Sunday, 4 March and Wednesday, 7 March 2018
This magnificent circular route combines coastal, and forest experiences. Agioi Anargyroi Trail is located at Cape Greco within the National Forest Park. With a big part of the walk running parallel to the shoreline, hikers can take in a spectacular view and a cool sea breeze.
The trail takes hikers from the sea caves to Kavos Hill, by passing the rocky areas with sparse and shrubby vegetation. Fields planted with cereals lie on the plains and are connected to a natural bridge called ‘Kamara tou Koraka’ through an area of low bushes. At the end is Agioi Anargyroi Church built over a sea cave. Locals believe that saints referred to as Agioi Anargyroi led a solitary life here.
In addition to the remarkable scenery, a variety of plants including the prickly burnet, wild thyme and many others grow here.
From here, the trail connects to the Konnoi – Agioi Anargyroi Trail, and to the Aphrodite Trail. A picnic site with drinking water lies 200 metres (656 feet) to the west end of the trail.
‘Episkopis and Apollo Hylates’ trail
Date of the walk: Sunday, 11 March and Wednesday, 14 March 2018
This is a combination of two trails with a linear route, meaning the journey doesn’t end at the point where it began.
The trails start 700 metres (2,297 feet) west of Episkopi Gymnasium. Episkopi is surrounded with rugged rocks with a few grapevines sparsely spread out.
The trail skirts the early Christian Basilica outside the walls of the Kourion archaeological site – located atop a limestone promontory. It is one of the island’s most important cities, and kingdom relics can be found here. The trail then passes through the ancient stadium and culminates across from the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. Apollo Hylates is an ancient monument devoted to the God of Apollo who was thought to be the protector of Kourion.
Date of the walk: Sunday, 18 March and Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Being in a protected area, the deserted shores of Lara beach have soft sand and crystal clear water. Wild goats, birds, and turtles inhabit this land. In springtime, a green blanket with wildflowers covers this part of the island.
The long route passes by old mines and magnesium facilities within the Akamas forest. It meets the Adonis nature trail at Kefalovrysia, where a water fountain with drinkable water stands.