Are you tired of the noisy Ayia Napa beaches or cosmopolitan Limassol with numerous sunbathing neighbors nearby? First, you are not alone. Second, you should find another place!
Yes. You can find secluded places on the island of Aphrodite, without an overly developed tourist infrastructure and crowds of vacationers. Some of them are difficult to get to, others are easy enough to visit. Thus if you have decided to enjoy the natural beauty of Cyprus, many times greater than the landscapes of popular seaside resorts you are accustomed to, then you should definitely visit the Akamas National Park!
Akamas is located on the peninsula of the same name, in the northwestern area of Cyprus, it is one of the most picturesque parts of the island.
Its area is about 230 km2 and includes valleys, gorges, wide sandy coves, stunning wild beaches, and rare and diverse flora and fauna.
There can be found about 128 plant species, 39 of which are endemic to Cyprus.
Nature connoisseurs find here beautiful tulips and rare species of orchids in spring, and a stunning blooming cyclamen or pink-purple peonies listed in the Red Book in autumn.
This scenic environment also is home to 168 birds, 20 reptiles, 16 butterflies, and 12 different mammal species. The most common fauna on the Akamas are fruit bats, foxes, wild goats, shrews, vultures, Cypriot owls, and sea turtles.
This unique reserve created by nature captures the imagination: it seems that this place has the most clean air on the island, the brightest sun and most transparent crystal water of mountain streams. Perhaps it is because of the rare beauty of flowers and herbs that have survived only in Akamas, but earlier grown throughout Cyprus.
The National Park area is one of the least populated areas on the island, so it is always quiet here.
This stunning place of Cyprus has an aura of endless tranquility. The national park is steeped in ancient Greek mythology and the amazing beauty of nature.
The first mention of the reserve is found in the myth of the famous Theseus who defeated the Minotaur. The ship on which Theseus fled from Crete with his beloved Ariadne, her sister Phaedra and the people saved from the monster, washed ashore in a terrible storm. Here the hero was forced to leave Ariadne, who was expecting a child and could not continue swimming with everyone. After some time, Theseus returned for her and learned that Ariadne had died during childbirth.
Returning to his native Athens, where he was king, Theseus married Ariadne's sister, who gave him two sons. Many years later, one of them, Akamas, famous for his strength and dexterity, replaced Theseus on the throne. The people loved and revered their new king so much that they erected him as a monument in Athens.
After Elena was stolen by the son of the Trojan king Paris, Akamas was sent to Troy to demand that Elena return to her husband. When the Achaeans succeeded in carrying out Odysseus's plan, Akamas was among those who entered the city, hiding inside a wooden horse.
Even before the siege of Troy began, Akamas fell in love with the Trojan princess Laodice, who soon gave birth to his son. Unable to return to his hometown due to the connection with Laodice, which was not interrupted during the siege, Akamas, who looked like a traitor in the eyes of the Athenians, arrived in Cyprus. Here he founded the city of Akamantis. The peninsula was named after Theseus' son, Akamas.
This was the beginning of the park's history. The favorable climate and convenient location near the sea attracted many people here, and the number of settlements was growing. According to archaeological finds, several cities of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods existed in the Akamas region.
According to another version, the word "Akamas" means "akaftos" (not flammable).
The Saracens (= arabs) repeatedly raided the island, they plundered and burned it. During one of these raids, Cyprus was burned to ashes and only Akamas remained saved.
Today, Cypriots are very careful about the protected area of Akamas, which is home to many stunning sites and unique attractions:
Baths of Aphrodite (on the map)
Baths of Aphrodite is a grotto full of springs. This place is considered a significant mythological site, which many tourists come to see from different parts of the island.
According to the legends the goddess of love Aphrodite preferred to take a bath here, surrounded by fragrant flowers and songbirds.
One day a beautiful young hunter Adonis approached the pool. He was tired of the long journey, he bent down to get water, saw a naked young woman and lost his mind with passion. But the lady was also subdued by the stranger.
This is how the story of the most incredible love began, which neither people nor gods could interfere with.
It was at this source that they continued to meet until Adonis died while hunting a giant boar. Aphrodite was completely inconsolable! The strength of her feelings touched even Zeus, who ordered Hades to periodically release the young man from the kingdom of the dead to date his immortal girlfriend.
People who dream of meeting a soul mate, as well as all lovers of mysteries and beautiful love stories like this place.
When you come here, you understand that this place is created for love, moreover, everything here is full of romance and love.
The water in the bath of Aphrodite is always cold, but, according to legend, it has a wonderful property, giving eternal youth and beauty. However, it is not possible to check this, since swimming in the bath of Aphrodite is strictly prohibited.
The ban is related to the observance of safety measures: water snakes live here, and slippery slopes make bathing very dangerous. You can only wash yourself, for this a small fountain is specially equipped near the grotto.
By the way, the Cypriots believe that the waters of the spring still keep the memories of their former tenderness and devotion.
There is a sign that a couple in love who have visited the bathhouse of the goddess Aphrodite will always be inseparable and will preserve their mutual passion for many years. In any case, it is worth taking a photo in this fabulous place as a souvenir, because, among other things, a tiny lake surrounded by rocks and dense greenery is incredibly picturesque.
Aphrodite Nature Trail (on the map)
Various hiking trails are laid from the baths of Aphrodite. It's incredible to walk along them. The Aphrodite Trail is a 7.5 km trail that takes 3-4 hours to hike. This is the most beautiful, interesting and rich hiking trail on the Akamas Peninsula.
The difference in elevation is small, but the route is assigned the third category of complexity as the road goes over the sea. There are medieval ruins, next to which the Aphrodite trail connects with another hiking trail - the Adonis trail. This place is considered romantic and popular with couples.
The trail is sloping somewhere, but mostly it is quite steep, with cut steps and unexpected turns.
Nevertheless, your patience and endurance will be rewarded here as the higher you can climb, the more beauty you can see.
The entire island can be observed from the mountain like from a bird's eye view! By the way, from here, you can see the beach which looks exactly like the birthplace of Aphrodite. However, this is another place, just an optical illusion as the bay of Aphrodite is far from this place and is located in a completely different direction.
Blue Lagoon (on the map)
Blue Lagoon is a rock-framed protected bay, which is one of the most beautiful swimming spots in Cyprus, as well as the most famous natural attraction of the protected Akamas Peninsula.
The most beautiful bay is named so for a reason! The water here is so clean and transparent that the seabed relief can be seen far away.
The Blue Lagoon differs from the typical tourist equipped beaches with a lot of entertainment and cafes, since it is considered a protected area. This is what allows you to enjoy the views of pristine nature and relax.
You can see and photograph the bay from several angles: from the sea (from an excursion boat); from rocks near the coast; from a sandy-pebble shore.
At the height of the resort and excursion summer season, there are always many boats that depart daily from Paphos and Latchi with excursion groups.
Swimming is the easiest thing to do in the Blue Lagoon. Among the most exciting activities, there are snorkeling or diving. Many come to see with their own eyes schools of fish or turtles in their natural habitat.
Lara Beach (on the map)
Lara Beach is located at the westernmost point of Cyprus, in a bay framed by a long cape. There is no usual beach-tourist infrastructure, umbrellas, sun loungers, ice cream stands, bars by the sea and everything that a typical tourist associates with a beach vacation.
Lara Beach is a protected area of "wild nature": earlier only rangers could enter here, now tourists are also allowed in. The only inhabitants of this protected area are wild goats, birds and, of course, turtles. The beach is a nesting place for loggerhead sea and green turtles, which are listed as endangered species in the IUCN Red List.
Every year they sail to Lara Beach and lay dozens of eggs in the sand. At this time, Lara looks like a minefield фы each nest is fenced in and signed. There is a scientific station on the territory of the reserve.
When the eggs hatch, locals come to the aid of the Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station to help release new offspring at sea.
Lara Beach is the perfect destination for those looking to spend a day at the beach without a ton of tourists. This is a small piece of paradise where humans and wildlife get along.
Avakas gorge (on the map)
Avakas Gorge is the coolest place not only in the Akamas region, but throughout Cyprus. Wildlife enthusiasts! This place is highly recommended for you!
The gorge is more than a thousand years old, it was created by nature as it was formed by the river flowing here. Over time, it dried up and now is a small stream. But around there are majestic rocks of unusual shape, reaching heights of up to 30 meters. They simply amaze with their beauty.
The gorge hidden among the hills becomes visible only when you are several meters from it. Traditional pines, cypresses, oleanders, plane trees grow around the canyon. The fauna is also quite common in Cyprus: foxes, hares, partridges, jackdaws, swifts. Nevertheless, in the spring and autumn in the gorge you can find many birds of prey: peregrine falcons, kites, eagles and even rare griffon vultures.
While walking along the gorge, you need to follow certain safety rules.
In some places there is a risk of rockfall; there are signs in the gorge warning about this and recommending to carefully look around.
The walk along the canyon ends near the famous stone sandwiched by rocks. It seemed to be stuck between the giant walls of a beautiful grotto. Its powerful grip does not allow it to fall, forcing him to pose for numerous photographers, presenting them with excellent pictures.
It is noteworthy that local shepherds discovered a door in one of the rocks of the canyon in the early 2000s. Until now, scientists have not fully investigated this find. At the moment, it is known that a narrow hole leads down into the ground, and then, at a depth of 70 meters, ancient catacombs were discovered, which are passages, galleries, underground halls that form a huge labyrinth. The mysterious dungeon has not been fully explored, nevertheless arrowheads and pottery have already been found there.
Avakas Gorge is a little-known and little-visited place, but it is a real pearl of Cyprus, a masterpiece of natural creation and a unique attraction on the island of Aphrodite.
The Akamas Peninsula is an incredible place. You will be touched by absolutely wild places, steep cliffs, azure sea, turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon, exotic plants and cute turtles. DOM LiVE recommends visiting this place. The Akamas reserve leaves a lasting impression and will present many beautiful photographs to your collection.
Akamas Peninsula (on the map).
Photos: DOM LiVE, pixabay.com