Everyone knows that Cyprus has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, with the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean sparkling across a seemingly endless expanse of golden coast. But did you know that the island also offers rolling mountains, dense forests, rugged headlands and a plethora of wild birds and animals that would satisfy even the most avid outdoor enthusiast? So grab your hiking boots, a map, and maybe some binoculars and head out to see the best of nature that Cyprus has to offer.
What better way to discover the true beauty of nature than to walk around in it? The Cyprus Tourism Organization offers a total of 52 designated walking trails that have been created to highlight the island’s great outdoors. From the stunning medieval splendor of the Tzielefos Bridge and the impressive force of the Caledonia Waterfalls in Troodos, to the rugged natural habitats of the Akamas Peninsula in Pafos, there is plenty to feast your eyes on. Take advantage of Cyprus’ favorable, year round climate and embark on a journey through nature, history and culture to discover some truly breathtaking landscapes.
Tourists are not the only visitors that ‘flock’ to Cyprus. In fact, the island is something of a birdwatcher’s paradise, with its strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean placing it right in the middle of one of the major migratory routes from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Millions of birds use Cyprus as a stopover during their biannual migration, accounting for some 400 species in total. Nature buffs looking to get up close and personal with these feathered beauties can witness the pink flamingoes and wild fowl that frequent the salt lakes of Larnaca and Akrotiri, as well as predatory birds, sea gulls, herns, nightingales, hangbirds, ravens, chickadees carrion buzzards, and the two indigenous species of the island, the Cyprus Warbler and the Cyprus Wheater.
The Elusive Mouflon
The curly-horned Mouflon is the pride and joy of the Cyprus forests. This species of wild sheep, native only to the remote mountainous regions of Cyprus, was declared a vulnerable species after years of being hunted. Today, it resides peacefully deep in the Pafos forest. Mouflon are generally shy creatures, preferring to stay hidden in the brush of the steep slopes of Troodos, venturing out only to nibble on edible plants and trees. However, determined hikers can venture out to the forestry station of Stavros tis Psokas, where a fenced area allows visitors glimpses of this elusive animal.
Picnic and Camping Sites
There is nothing like a brisk hike in the crisp mountain air to really whet your appetite. Luckily, the Troodos mountain range has plenty of picnic and camping sites, all of which fall under the umbrella of the Cyprus Forestry Department, where visitors can enjoy being at one with nature. All have easy access and offer a range of amenities, including tables, sanitary facilities, playgrounds, barbecue sites, drinking water, car parks and more, all free of charge. Camping sites in the Troodos mountain range are also available for a small fee per overnight stay.
And so, when city life becomes overwhelming, or you feel you’ve had quite enough of the beach, just remember that there is a whole other side to Cyprus that is waiting to be explored, where you can enhance your senses and experiences with some of the island’s most spectacular scenery.