The AKAMAS PENINSULA makes up the northwest tip of Cyprus and is one of the least inhabited places on the island. It is an area of great beauty – especially the rugged coast – and attracts walkers, mountain bikers and off-road drivers (there are no main roads – just dirt tracks and footpaths). As with most peninsulas, where it begins is debatable. It is broadly defined as the area north of Pegeia and west of Polis.
Once used as a firing range by the British Army – which kept away even the most determined hotel developers – the peninsula has an extraordinary range of wildlife, and contains virtually every type of habitat to be found on the island, from the dense forests of the south to arid pine scrub at the tip. Among the flora and fauna are 39 of Cyprus’s endemic plants, 160 or more varieties of bird, twelve types of mammal, twenty reptile species and sixteen types of butterfly. Top billing, however, goes to the sea turtles (both green and loggerhead) which lay their eggs on the peninsula’s beaches. Though not a national park, the peninsula does have some measure of protection – the Pegeia and Akamas Forests are the responsibility of the government, and other bits are controlled in various ways – but there seems to be no overarching plan to protect it. This is a worry, as powerful forces (not only the usual developers, but even the church) are keen to exploit the glorious beaches out here.
Driving on the Akamas means either renting a 4WD or signing up for a jeep safari and only experienced walkers, properly dressed and equipped, should attempt it on foot. Given its past role, if you find anything that looks like a live shell or other ordnance, leave well alone. For the faint of heart, the best way to see the peninsula is from the comfort of a boat – excursions run from Pafos and Lakki.Read More
Akamas walking trails
Akamas walking trails
Walking trails through the Akamas are well marked, and in summer can be quite crowded. However, despite their user-friendliness, all the usual precautions should be taken – wear a hat, use plenty of sunscreen, carry bottles of water. Maps of the walks (and the excellent “Nature Trails of the Akamas” booklet which covers the routes here) are available from tourist offices, and copies are posted in several locations. If you get into difficulties phone the local police station number (t26806285), tell them what trail you’re on and the number on the last sign you passed. If you haven’t got a phone, or there’s no signal, you’re on your own.
The Trail to Fontana Amoroza
This is the easiest walk from the Baths of Aphrodite, a 6km stroll which follows the coast to a small spring. The Fontana Amoroza (“Fountain of Love”) was named by Italian poet-traveller Ludovico Ariosto, who probably mistook it for the Baths of Aphrodite (the contrast between the grandiloquent name and the actual tiny spring is a hoot). The route is hugely popular, and if you do this walk in summer try to set off very early or late in the day, not only to avoid the heat, but also the noise of speedboats, quad bikes and 4WDs. If you don’t want to do the full 12km return walk, catch a boat from Lakki to Fontana Amorozo and walk back.
The Aphrodite Trail
This starts off along the same route as the one to Fontana Amoroza, but then swings west and climbs up to Muti tis Sotiras (370m), down to Pyrgos tis Rigainas (the indistinct ruins of either a Lusignan fortification or a Byzantine monastery), then back to the Baths of Aphrodite. Being a circular route (it’s around 7.5km), it can be done in either direction.
The Adonis Trail
A circular route, again about 7.5km long, which loops south of the Baths of Aphrodite, then strikes north to Pyrgos tis Rigainas, where it joins the Aphrodite Trail for the return to the Baths.