As long as you’re a fan of storytelling, and don’t mind some steps – no, we don’t mean the 90s pop group – you’ll love the jeep tour of Cyprus’ Akamas Peninsula…
On a recent trip to Cyprus, I set off on a full-day excursion that saw me gazing out over dizzying panoramic views, cooing over sea life, and frolicking along a pristine beach. I learnt more about Cyprus – past and present – than any guidebook could ever tell me. I even experienced the famous Cypriot hospitality with a traditional meze lunch in a restaurant overlooking the sea. But there was a whole lot more besides. Here are some the day’s highlights…
I’d asked politely, but there was no getting around the 8.30am pick-up time, so I quickly got into the early-riser mentality. A fully-qualified driver picked me up from outside the Athena Beach Hotel in Paphos, and we whizzed off in a jeep that comfortably housed 4 other safari enthusiasts. Although things got bumpy in no time – thankfully we’d been given the head’s up beforehand – that was all part of the fun.
It comes as no surprise that the Avakas Gorge is described as Cyprus’ most impressive natural wonder. This deep canyon really does aim to please with its rugged views, sheer walls of limestone that form a narrow tunnel and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sight of mountain goats feeding on shrubbery. Word to the wise – bring sensible hiking shoes, as this is a 30-to-40-minute hike over cobblestones, rocks and plenty of sand. It’s not a time to plump for fashion over comfort.
Who knew a trip to Lara Beach – a near-deserted curl of sand home to green and loggerhead turtles – would be the first collective oohing and aahing of the day? Then again, it’s not every day you find yourself within arm’s length of endangered baby turtles. Cyprus is as dedicated as they come to turtle conservation, and the exhibition that documents the work of the Cyprus Turtle Conservation Project was proof in the proverbial pudding.
Over halfway in to the tour, we made our way to the camera-ready beauty spot, the Baths of Aphrodite. Within seconds of arriving, orderly queues were formed, snapshots of the freshwater springs were taken, and many fables of the Goddess of Love’s beloved bathing nook were told. Whether I chose to believe any of it is another story…
To wrap it all up, I indulged in some much-needed chill-out time in a cove so popular, it’s dotted with deckchairs to house the masses. The idea that the sea has calming properties for the mind is one old wives’ tale I’m willing to believe – the air was cool and crisp, the water was the perfect shade of aquamarine, and I was left feeling (for want of a better word) revitalised. It was the perfect end to an unforgettable day.
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Author: Mary-Claire Akinyemi
Published: October 15, 2014
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