Mountain climbing and Rambling
Cyprus Tourism Organization along with the Forestry Department, have created more than sixty nature trails to support climbers and walkers to enjoy the island’s hills and vales; with some linear and circular trails, to help walkers discover the most interesting corners of the island. Cypriot terrain varies from that of Troodos Mountains to the Cape Grego in the southeast, through the foothills and the forests of the Akamas peninsula in the west. The trails, are designed to take in areas of admirable natural beauty and cultural importance. The trails are designed on gentle gradients and are divided into three difficulty stages with two trails specialized designed and are suitable for disabled. Signboards made of wood mark the start of each trial with there as the pointers to geological features and interesting flora along each route. The Cypriot Tourism Organization’s booklet ‘European Long Distance Path E4 and other Cyprus Nature Trails’ includes details of the European E4 path and all the other nature trials with the length, duration and the difficulty required each trail. You can find a copy of the booklet at the nearest Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) information office or download it from their website.
If your idea of traveling is to have the wind on your face, the sun on your back, the gentle crunch of tires on gravel, the aroma 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 in Cyprus have bicycles for hire and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s guide “Cyprus Cycling Routes” that can be taken from the hotel or from the nearest CTO information centre. The hand handbook provided by the CTO, covers the main routes connecting towns or regions and tours within a region. Each journey describes the route from one point to another by altitude and the distance from the start point the total distance is given, as well as the difficulty rating based on the average moderately fit cyclist. Recommendations are made as to the suitable type of bicycle for each route, where the road surface is described and explained. CTO guidebook also includes a map of each route. In the Troodos Mountains there is a longer cycling route. This divides into three parts and takes riders from Pano Platres to the Karvounas mountain saddle; then to Prodromos and finally back to Platres. This route is on forest, with rural and secondary roads, and it passes through villages, monasteries, historical sites and areas of exceptional natural beauty. In support of 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.
Horse riding is a different unique way of exploring the Cyprus landscape. Riding stables and ranches exists all over the island. Horse riding is a very romantic way of enjoying the nature and the beauty of the island at a slower pace, listen to the birdsong and look at the incredible color highlights of the last rays of the setting sun over sea or mountain. Horse riding can be enjoyed all over the year thanks to the island’s climate. Riding lessons are also available in Cyprus at centers with well-trained horses and qualified trainers.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Chionistra, is the local name used by Cypriots for Mount Olympus at the summit of the Troodos Mountains, which means ‘the snowy one’. During the winter, ‘Chionistra’ is covered with a layer of snow. Skiing and snowboarding season in Cyprus is between December to March. In Cyprus, you can find four main runs. Sun Valley I: on the southern slopes is ideal for novices and Sun Valley 2: is more suitable for practiced skiers; where North Face I and North Face 2 are for the more experienced skiers. The Cyprus Ski Club runs t-bar lifts at North Face and Sun Valley, where there are six alpine standard runs between 100 to 500 meters. There are also two langlauf trails at Sun Valley; one of eight kilometers and the other one four, which go through some wonderful and dramatic scenery. Furthermore, visitors can hire ski equipment from the specialized ski store at Sun Valley. Individual and group tutorials are also available for skiers and snowboarders.
Angling in Cyprus is a very popular activity and twenty-one reservoirs offer excellent fresh-water fishing during the year. Seventeen types of fish can be found including bass, trout, roach, carp and perch. However, anglers need a fishing license, which can be easily gained from the ‘Department of Fisheries’ and Marine Research’ in Nicosia or from the local offices of the Fisheries Department.
Cyprus lies between the main migratory paths for a variety of birds from Asia, Europe and Africa and there are many endemic species on the island. During the winter visitors can enjoy the stunning flocks of flamingos and wildfowl at the Salt Lakes in Larnaca, in contrast with high summer which is a quiet time, as the number of breeding species is quite small. On the other hand, autumn is excellent for the passage of raptors, particularly between September and October. A massive movement of wildfowl can also seen in autumn like the passage of gulls and herons. Cyprus Birdlife is an NGO that promotes the protection of birds and their environment. BLC is an association of Birdlife Europe and it runs bird watching trips, through which visitors can find out what is happening on the local scene.
During the period of the mid-summer in Cyprus, 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 about 130 endemic plants. The island’s floral profile is the consequence of the catastrophic ice-ages when much of the flora of northern and central Europe was covered by glacier, while the Mediterranean basin escaped unharmed, providing a haven for the evolution of plant life.
National Forest Parks
in Cyprus, visitors can find seven national forest parks. Some of the most famous ones are the two within the environs of Nicosia-Athalassa Park and Paedagogical Academy Parks, which have nature trails, picnic sites, bird watching and basketball arenas. The Troodos National Forest Park is the largest park within Cyprus and includes four Nature Reserves. In Trodos National Forest Park visitors can find 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 entertaining facilities, including picnic sites, a campsite, nature trails, riding and winter sport. The Cavo Greko National Forest Park lies in the southeast of the island’s and is ideal for hiking, picnicking, riding, cycling, climbing, swimming and diving.