Akamas Peninsula and National Park
The Akamas National Park lies on the west coast of Cyprus, a truly pictorial part of the island. It has an area coverage of 230 square kilometers containing valleys, gorges and wide sandy bays. The wildlife diversity is crucial for the ecology in the Mediterranean. In this spectacular environment there are 168 varieties of birds, 20 different reptiles, 16 species of butterfly and 12 different mammals not to mention its very rich variety of fauna. The important significance of the Akamas Peninsula has been duly noted; The European Council has included it in its Mediterranean Protection Program The Cyprus Government has yet to fully declare it as a National Park for tourist and local landowners reasons, although friends of the Earth and Green Peace are lobbying hard for it
The Akamas Peninsula
…an unspoilt outdoor paradise and the Jewel of Southern Cyprus
The gorgeous Akamas peninsula, on the north western tip of the island has a unique but fragile beauty. Unique, as it is the last coastal region on the island of Cyprus to remain largely untouched by mass tourism and development. Fragile, as the beauty of the Akamas remains under threat.
Whilst conservationists have lobbied to protect the area for the past 20 years, the government is yet to fully declare the area a Cyprus National park as it tries to please local landowners as well as maintaining the region’s tourist appeal.
Ironically, whilst the conservationists used to complain about the British army’s “bombing” of the area in the 80’s and 90’s (the remote western tip of Cyprus was used for various military exercises), this very activity helped to preserve the region’s wildness.
Unfortunately, the military activity ceased in the late 90’s around the same time that the government allowed the development of a luxury 5 star spa hotel, the Anassa, in the Asprokremmos beach area near Latchi. This has inevitably opened the door for a mass of villa developments along the same stretch of coastline which is to be kept in check.
I sincerely hope that a compromise can be reached as there is surely a way for Cyprus locals to benefit from their land and for the region to remain unspoilt, for example by restricting any development to areas around the outlying villages and by compensating landowners for effectively donating their land to the international community.
The Akamas peninsula
OK, you’ve probably now got the picture that we don’t want any more destruction of our beautiful landscape and, for now, the Akamas remains a haven for wildlife, flora and general outdoor fun. Hurrah!!
Outdoor enthusiasts have 79 sq km of land to explore either on foot or by bicycle and less active tourists can always opt for a jeep safari tour or even hire their own 4×4 vehicle to marvel at the amazing scenery.
I could go on lyrically about the landscape on the Akamas peninsula all day…about the steep gorges, hair raising rocky mountain bike descents and leisurely strolls on the nature trails…all of which you can enjoy immensely, but hopefully the following information and the pictures in the slider will give you an idea.
On a European level, Cyprus including the Akamas area has been identified as one of the 22 areas of endemism in Europe and one of only three European areas holding two or more restricted-range species of birds.
A vitally important characteristic of this peninsula is its beaches. Akamas is the last large unspoiled coastal area remaining in Cyprus and one of the very few important sea turtle nesting areas in the Mediterranean. Both the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta-caretta) and the rarer Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) nest here; the latter depends on the Akamas beaches for its very survival in this region. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) lists Loggerheads as “vulnerable” and Green Turtles as an “endangered species”. According to the IUCN, the annual number of Green Turtle nesting females in the entire Mediterranean could be as low as 325-375
Looking for Cyprus flowers or Cyprus birds?
Flower time on the Akamas peninsula
Out of a total of 128 endemic plant species of Cyprus, the following 39 are found in the Akamas peninsula :
Alyssum akamasicum, Anthemis tricolor, Arenaria rhodia ssp. cypria, Asperula cypria, Astragalus cyprius, Ballota integrefolia, Bosea cypria, Carlina involucrata spp. cyprica, Carlina pygmea, Centaurea akamantis, Centaurea calcitrapa ssp. angusticeps, Centaurea veneris, Crocus veneris, Cyclamen cyprium, Euphorbia cypria, Gagea juliae, Gladiolus triphyllus, Helianthemum obtusefolium, Odontides cypria, Onobrychis venosa, Onopordum cyprium, Onosma fruticosum, Ophrys kotschyi, Ophrys lepethica, Origanum majorana, Ornithogalum pedicellare, Phlomis cypria var. occidentalis, Pterocephalus multiflorus ssp. multiflorus, Ptilostemon chamaepeuce var. cyprius, Rubia laurea, Scutellaria cypria var. elatior, Sedum cyprium, Sedum porphyreum, Senecio glaucous ssp. Cyprius, Taraxacum aphrogenes, Teucrium divaricatum ssp. Canescens, Teucrium micropodioides, Thymus integer, Tulipa cypria.
In addition to its species habitats, the area is also important because of its diverse community habitats. Some of these are:
Pine and juniper forests
NB: Please do NOT pick any of the flowers – it is prohibited (as is camping on the Akamas, but this is widely ignored in the hot summer months by many tourists).
Route finding is relatively straightforward if you stick to the main tracks, but you may want to consider a local specialist if you want to discover the secret trails only the locals know about… See nature trails.
Or just be lazy and head for the secret coves for a little R&R… Lots of local taverns to unwind.
Or take a trip to the beautiful Blue lagoon the most popular place of Akamas and thousands of people have visited by boat. The crystal blue waters in this small bay are so clear, you can see all the way to the underlying seabed.
The water in this area of the Akamas Peninsula is so inviting and refreshing you will want to swim in this beautiful environment or go snorkeling
Don’t forget to stick around long enough to watch the spectacular sunset…
I’ll leave you with some tips to make the most out of your time on the Akamas peninsula:
1 The best time to see flowers is in spring, between early March and end April.
2 Outdoor activities can be enjoyed on the Akamas peninsula for most of the year – just remember to take LOTS of water with you if exploring the area in July/August – we would recommend an EARLY start and a long siesta… or a very lazy lunch in a fish taverna in Latchi!
3 For a mountain bike excursion hire a local guide or at least a quality bike. While the highest point on the Akamas is only 350m, many of the trails have a LOT of up and down!
4 There are several nature trails on the Akamas – pick up a guide to them at the local tourist information office (in Polis) – my favourite is the Aphrodite Trail.