European E4 long distance path
The Cyprus section, which has been set up as a joint venture between the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Cyprus Tourism Organisations, connects Larnaka and Pafos airports. Along the way, it passes through areas of outstanding natural beauty, places of ecological importance and historic and archaelogical sites. All the roads and tracks on the route are well signposted and the CTO has published a booklet of the Cyprus section, splitting it into comfortable daily sections, with the distance and time needed to cover each one. Ot also gives useful information on the geology, flora, fauna and points of interest along each section of the route.
Hiking and rambling
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation and the Forestry Department have created over sixty nature trails to assist hikers and ramblers enjoy the island’s hills and vales. The trails, some linear and others circular, help walkers discover the most fascinating corners of Cyprus. The terrain varies from that of Cape Gkreko in the southeast, through the Troodos Mountains, the foothills and forests to the Akamas peninsula in the west. The tyrails, which are designed to take in areas of outstanding, natural beauty and cultural importance, are on gentle gradients and are divided into three degrees of difficulty with two trails suitable for the disabled. Wooden signboards mark the start of each trial and there are pointers to interesting flora or geological features along each route. The CTO’S booklet ‘European Long Distance Path E4 and other Cyprus Nature Trails’ gives details of the European E4 path and all the nature trials with the length, duration and degree of difficulty of each one. You can pick up a copy at the nearest CTO information office.
If your idea of traveling is to have the wind on your face, the sun on your back, the gentle crunch of tyres on gravel, the scent of pines around you and a glimpse of the sea sparkling in the distance, then cycling in Cyprus is for you. Almost all the tourist resorts have bicycles for hire and the CTO’s guidebook Cyprus Cycling Routes can be picked up at the nearest CTO information centre. The guidebook covers main routes connecting towns or regions and excursions within a region. Each itinerary describes the route from point to point by altitude and the distance from the start point the total distance is given, as well as the difficulty rating, which is based on the average moderately fit cyclist. Recommendations are also made as to the type of bicycle suitable for each route and the road surface is described. The book includes a map of each route. There is also a longer cycling route in the Troodos mountains. This is split into three sections and takes riders from Pano Platres to the Karvounas mountain saddle; then to Prodromos and finally back to Platres. The route is on forest, rural and secondary roads and it passes villages, historical sites, monasteries and areas of outstanding natural beauty. It is signposted and there are markers pointing to viewpoints etc. for competitive cyclists, the Cyprus Cycling Federation, which is a member of the International Cycling Union (ICU) organizes an annual three-day international mountain bike competition called ‘Afxentia’ that attracts cyclists from all over Europe. The CCF also runs annual road races.
Riding is a different way of exploring the hidden secrets of the Cyprus landscape. There are riding stables and ranches all ovewr the island, so you can enjoy the Akamas peninsula, the Cape Gkreko Natiional Forest Park or the pine-scented Troodos Mountains on horseback. Riding allows you to enjoy nature at a slower pace, to hear the birdsong and watch the incredible colours of the last rays of the setting sun over sea or mountain. Riding can be enjoyed year-round thanks to the island’s climate and there is trekking and hatching for all levels of competence. Riding lessons are also available at centres with well-trained horses and qualified instructors. The CTO has published a pamphlet Horse Riding in Cyprus and more information is available from the Cyprus Equestrian Federation. For those who are nervous of horses, donkey rides are also available.
Skiing and Snowboarding:
Chionistra, the traditional name for Mount Olympus at the summit of the Troodos Mountains, means ‘the snowy one’ and in winter, it is covered with a good layer of snow.Cyprus Hotels There is a brief but vigorous skiing and snowboarding season from December to March. There are four main runs, on the southern slopes Sun Valley I is ideal for novices and Sun Valley 2 is for more practiced skiers. North Face I and North Face 2 are for the experienced. The Cyprus Ski Club runs t-bar lifts at Sun Valley and the North Face, where there are six alpine standard runs varying from 100 to 500 metres. There are two langlauf trails at Sun Valley; one of eight kilometres and one of four, which go through some wonderful and dramatic scenery. Snowboarding is growing in popularity and plans are afoot to create a park dedicated solely to this up-and-coming sport. Visitors can hire equipment from the ski store at Sun Valley and individual and group tuition is available for skiers and snowboarders.
Angling in the dam reservoirs of Cyprus is a very popular pastime and twenty-one reservoirs provide excellent fresh-water fishing throughout the year. Seventeen species of fish are stocked, including trout, bass, carp, perch and roach. ‘Catch and keep’ is allowed at akk but two sites, Polemedeia (Lemesos District) and Achna (Ammochostos District) , which are ‘catch and release’ only. Anglers need a fishing licence, which can be easily obtained from the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research in Nicosia or from the regional offices of the Fisheries Department.
Cyprus lies on one of the main migratory paths for bird species from Europe, Asia and Africa and there are many endemic species on the island. Winter is the time to enjoy spectacular flocks of flamingos and wildfowl at the Salt Lakes. High summer is a quiet time, as the number of breeding species is relatively small. Autumn is excellent for the passage of raptors, especially in September and October. The season also sees a massive movement of wildfowl, gulls and herons. Birdlife Cyprus is an NGO that promotes the protection of birds and their habitats. BLC is an affiliate of Birdlife Europe and it runs birdwatching trips and a birdline, through which visitors can find out what is happening on the local scene.
In the heat of summer, visitors can be forgiven for thinking that Cyprus is bereft of flowers, as the dry rock-strewn hills show scant evidence that the island is home to an extraordinary variety of wildflowers and orchids, including around 130 endemic plants. The best time to see Cyprus’ wild flowers is in early spring (February-march). When most species enjoy a short period of blossoming and take advantage of the unusually moist climate. The country’s floral profile is the result of the catastrophic ice ages when much of the flora of northern and central Europe was glacier covered, while the Mediterranean basin escaped unscathed, providing a haven for the evolution of plant life.
National Forest Parks:
There are seven national forest parks, including two within the environs of Nicosia-Athalassa Park and Paedagogical Academy Parks, which have nature trails, picnic sites, birdwatching basketball arenas. The Troodos National Forest Park is the largest and includes four Nature Reserves. It has the largest number of wild plats, including endemics, compared to anywhere else on the island and has been designated as one of the thirteen Mediterranean Plant Diversity Hot Spots. The Park has many recreational facilities, including picnic sites, a campsite, nat?re trails, riding and winter sport. The Cavo Gkreko National Forest Park in the southeast of the islands is ideal for hiking., picnicking, cycling, riding, climbing, swimming and diving.