Cyprus Circumnavigation 2016
Back in August 2016 Angela and I wanted to do a longer trip but Cyprus being a relatively small island, 1 or 2 day trips are easily possible but longer trips over consecutive days are a little harder to achieve but we needed to plan a trip to shake down test Wilson's and Lara's upgrades that we had had completed for our longer Big Trip 2017 starting the following year.
Our options were limited as leaving Cyprus to go elsewhere is both difficult and expensive due to the on going tensions between the north and south of the island. There are no "official" RoRo ferries from the south and the RoRo from the north to Turkey is not strictly legal as an exit or entry point to the island of Cyprus and in particular the Greek south side. This can lead to lots of customs and paperwork issues if found to be using it. Particularly foreign registered vehicles that arrive on the island in the north and try to enter the south.
So the plan came to spend approximately 7 days travelling around the coastline of Cyprus in both the North and South of the island. Certain areas in both the north and south were not accessable such as the British Sovereign Base Area of Akrotira to the south and some military areas in the north. The route would be a mix of tarmac and off road gravel tracks taking in the unspoilt beauty of Akamas to the south and Karpaz to the north and camping was a mix of wild camping and camp sites. It could be completed at a relaxed pace to enjoy the time in each area and would involve crossing the Green Line Border twice.
This is about as close as you can get to "Overlanding" here in Cyprus and would give us a chance to try out the modifications and changes made on both the "Lara" trailer and "Wilson" the Land Rover Defender. Having crossed the Green Line north and south to explore previously we were looking to find new camp sites and review existing listed ones.
We did not plan how many days would be needed but we estimated around 7 days.
Day 1 Monagroulli to Akamas
So on the 19th August 2016 we started by leaving Monagroulli our home in Cyprus to head to wild camp in Akamas. We have a favourite spot in Akamas that is by the beach, remote, off road to get to and offers solitude to get away from your normal crowded beaches found elsewhere on the island. We would stay here for 2 nights so we had an opportunity to set up then head off exploring more of Akamas in Wilson the Defender.
On the route we passed by Aphrodite's Rock (Petra tou Romiou) known as the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite and continuing on along the coast to Paphos and Coral Bay. Here the wreck of the Edro 3 can be found before continuing West to Agias Georgios and the start of the off road section into the Akamas Peninsular.
We had walked the Avkas Gorge and visited Lara Beach known for its Turtle Nests on previous trips so we continued onwards to our wild camp and got set up. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and evening snorkelling in the calm clear bay and Dave tried a little fishing without much success. We cooked over an open fire and enjoyed a few cold beers and wine (thanks to our 47 litre ARB fridge) particularly as temperates were in the high 30's degs C in the day and mid to high 20's degs C at night.
Day 2 Akamas Explore
Lazy start to the day and enjoyed some breakfast before securing our trailer so we could head off exploring more of the Akamas Peninsular in Wilson leaving behind the tailer as our base camp.
We headed up further into Akamas heading tight to the coast line into the former military firing range.
Warnings are posted throughout about unexploded ordinance.
We found a nice beach where we enjoyed a few hours with Angela sunbathing and Dave wandering a few miles further up the coastline on foot.
Throughout the day tourist boats can be seen cruising up and down of the coast full of tourists who in some cases this is the only way for them to see and appreciate Akamas.
We headed back to camp mid afternoon and chilled out around camp and Dave tried some fishing with no luck once again.
Day 3 Akamas to Polis
Another lazy start before packing up and getting the trailer hitched. Todays trip would involve more off road heading North up and over the top to Fontana Amorosa. The road is very rough and dusty but the view from the top down into Fontana Amorosa is breathtaking.
At Fontana Amorosa the solitude is lost. Cypriots like to camp up at the beach in August and July so lots of camps set up around the bays and inlets, day trippers come to spend the day at the beach and tourist and personal boats come to anchor in the bays.
We spent a few hours enjoying Fontana Amorosa before taking the dangerous single track road that clings to the steep sided hill and leads to Aphrodite Baths. Signs state the road is dangerous and should not be used but in typical Cypriot style everyone ignores the warnings and uses it daily. This was a road I hoped we would not meet anyone coming the other way especially as I had the trailer and there are very tight areas with big drop offs. Another reason we waited until mid afternoon to make the run through as most people would be headed the same direction as ourselves.
Once clear of the road its back on to Tarmac and we headed to Polis and the campsite that is there by the beach. Again we got set up for the night and this time we headed back into Latchi to enjoy a late lunch by the marina.
Polis Chrysochous Campsite has so much potential but sadly under investment has meant that the services are old and crumbling and although cleaned daily it still looks and feels grotty. Some permanent Caravans and huts have been allowed and these tend to play music exceptionally loud and in some cases it seems to be a competition to see who can be the loudest. We did not have a relaxing night and sleep was impossible until about 2 am.
Day 4 Polis to Kaplica
Struggling in the morning due to the late loud music but wanting to get an early start as we would be crossing the Green Line into the North of Cyprus today and the roads heading east along the North coastline are slow winding and hilly.
As it happened the Green Line crossing at Limnitis was straight forward where we purchased 3rd Party insurance and passport checks and we were on our way after lots of general interest in the Defender and Trailer.
We had initially intended to camp at a camp site just outside Kyrenia that was found after much searching online. However upon arrival we saw it was almost derelict, dirty and full of caravans so we made the decision to continue east and see if we could find something else as a campsite or a wild camp.
We found the jewel in the Kaplica Campsite. A new government site right on the beach, exceptionally cheap and the people there were very friendly and accommodating. We spent late afternoon swimming in the warm clear bay and golden sands before BBQ and a few beers at night. We should have stayed longer but hopefully next time we will.
Day 5 Kaplica to Karpaz Peninsular
Lazy start packed up and hitched up the trailer. Our route today would see us driving further east to Dipkarpaz where we stopped off for more supplies (Food and Drink). The route from Dipkarpaz jumps over the panhandle to the southern coast of the Karpaz Peninsular passing Golden Sands Beach regarded by many as the best beaches in the whole of Cyprus. Long sprawling golden sandy beaches, no commercialisation except the odd camping shacks or restaurants.
We had intended to camp at Burhan's Campsite and despite my contacting them before we left to confirm they could take our trailer we arrived and sadly again disappointed. There was no flat ground to pitch the trailer and that was even if I could manoeuvre it into position. We considered wild camping here right on the beach but decided we would continue further to the tip of Karpaz Peninsular and wild camp there.
Another great spot with wild donkeys coming to visit, a chance for Dave to do some fishing (again unsuccessfully) and a chance to do more snorkelling and exploring.
We would therefore stay here for 2 nights.
Day 6 Karpaz Peninsular
A beautiful morning to wake up so we both headed into the water to do some snorkelling. The bay is absolutely littered with ancient piles of Amphora and further round the bay we found the remnants of a wreck. The metal plates riveted suggesting it was an old boat from some time ago.
We spent the day walking to the very tip of the Peninsular to see the coastguard station and the Turkish and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Flags, Dave fishing and some more snorkelling and watching the fishermen pulling boats in and out of the water and heading out to lay their nets.
Evening was a BBQ and drinks with again a visit by the Donkeys.
Day 7 Karpaz to Monagroulli
A long drive today heading south through Famagusta and crossing the Green Line back into the South then on down to Cape Greco and drive back from Greco through Larnaca back to Limassol and home.
The Green Line crossing was a little slow. For some reason on our initial crossing into the North a few days previously the system had not been updated. But this was soon resolved and we were allowed to proceed. At the South side of the crossing customs formalities were to open one box in the trailer and generally talk Land Rovers.
Of note this crossing is on Sovereign Base Land and as such is administered by the UK SBA Police so watch your speed.
Cape Greco is a designated a natural Forest but you will not see many trees. Its all brush and rocks with lots of sea caves, blue bays and walking routes. You get a lot of visitors from Ayia Napa and Protaras on quads or in buggies tearing around and a few of the party boats that run out of Ayia Napa also stop here.
After Greco we followed the coast road to Larnaca. Again we were going to camp just outside of Larnaca but the camp we found online was derelict and locked up so obviously closed down. We could have wild camped on the beach with all the others but decided as we were only 45 minutes from home we would continue and head there for a nice soak in a bath and tomorrow I would clean out the trailer and Land Rover.
If you get a chance to do a similar trip please do it. You can make it longer or shorter depending on what you enjoy but it gives you a great opportunity to see both sides of Cyprus. Clearly the North is much poorer than the South but even with this the people are friendly and we were regularly waved at as we travelled throughout.