There’s far more to Cyprus than just the bustling resorts: the favourable climate, attractive scenery and many kilometres of footpaths and nature trails make it an ideal destination for walkers. Here is a sample route to give you a flavour of the walking included.
WALK 1: The Aphrodite Trail, Akamas Peninsula
from Walking in Cyprus by Nike Werstroh, Jacint Mig
|Start/Finish||Bath of Aphrodite (N35.05610, E32.34589)|
|Distance||7.5km (4½ miles)|
|Refreshments||Restaurant and bar at start point|
|Access||Road signs are easy to follow from Paphos and Polis. Regular buses from Polis. Parking available.|
This is one of the most popular and well-known nature trails on the Akamas Peninsula. Coachloads of tourists visit the Bath of Aphrodite, but not all of them follow the goddess’ footsteps all the way along this scenic circular trail. It is a moderately easy walk with gentle but stony uphill sections populated by juniper trees, with a steep descent giving excellent views to the Akamas Peninsula.
During the walk you can learn to recognise some of the plants of Cyprus, as many trees and flowers are labelled. The route is signposted with iron arrows and there are benches at the best viewpoints along the way.
There is a car park and a restaurant just outside of the Botanical Garden. Go through the gate – closing it behind you as the sign requests – and then walk on the paved path which leads to the Bath of Aphrodite.
The Bath of Aphrodite is a small pool of water where a sign confirms that ‘the Goddess of love and beauty used to bathe in the small pool of this natural grotto’. The pool area is usually very busy with people posing in front of the dripping water.
From the Bath, continue on the path marked ‘Nature Trail’. When this paved path ends, exit through a gate then a few metres later turn left where a sign says ‘Aphrodite and Adonis Trail’. The two trails run together for the first 2.5km, starting from the information board. According to legend, this trail was used by Aphrodite to walk back to her tower after bathing in the pool.
There are two legends that link Aphrodite’s name to Cyprus; her birth and the time spent with her lover, Adonis. According to legend, the goddess of love and beauty rose from the sea near Paphos after Cronos cut off Uranus’ genitals and threw them into the water. Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus but had many lovers, the most famous of which was Adonis. Myrrha – who was to be Adonis’ mother – was cursed by Aphrodite to fall in love with her own father, King Cinyras of Cyprus. When Cinryas found out that he’d been tricked, the pregnant Myrrha was banished. She changed into a myrrh tree and the baby was born from that tree. Aphrodite took baby Adonis to Persephone (goddess of the underworld), but she returned when Adonis was a grown, handsome man. Aphrodite and Persephone both wanted to keep Adonis. Zeus dictated that Adonis would spend one third of the year with Aphrodite, one third of the year with Persephone and could decide for himself with whom he would spend the rest of the year. He chose to spend it with Aphrodite.
Start walking slightly uphill on a stony path with occasional glimpses of the sea. Keep on the winding, well-trodden path, ignoring a narrow path on the right and noting the labelled trees and shrubs. As the path turns away from the sea the horizon fills with white limestones and pine-dotted hillsides.
Around the 1km mark the path levels out a bit and runs between thorny gorses. A few hundred metres later it crawls uphill again, and you find yourself walking on giant limestones before reaching a steeper section with some big stone steps. You are soon rewarded with views to the sea, and the path straightens again before climbing uphill for a short section after the 2km mark.
Ahead is the peak of Moutti tis Sotiras in the distance, but keep on the track gently turning away from the mountain. About 50min into the walk you arrive at a junction with a giant oak tree, a fountain and the ruins of Pyrgos tis Rigainas (Tower of the Queen). The trail divides here; the Aphrodite Trail continues to the right and the Adonis Trail to the left. Both are clearly marked.
Turn right on the Aphrodite Trail and follow the wide dirt road, occasionally marked with an ‘E4’, then turn right onto an iron arrow-marked path. Follow this marked path running parallel to a dirt road for a while. When you emerge at a wide dirt road, continue uphill with glimpses of the surrounding hills and sea.
Look for the ruins of the tower down below.
At the end of the dirt road the path splits. To the left is a 5min walk to Moutti tis Sotiras’ rocky peak, where a magnificent panorama of the Akamas Peninsula can be enjoyed. Take this, soak up the views and then retrace your steps to the junction with the iron arrow and continue to the left.
Soon the narrow path runs downhill with views to the sea and with towering rocks on the left. Iron arrows occasionally indicate the clearly visible path. Zigzag steeply downhill between wild thyme and thorny bushes for about 40min, and when you reach the dirt road turn right, towards ‘Aphrodite Bath’. This road also has E4 signs.
Walk for about 20min on the dirt road with views to the rugged coastline and the hillside. Soon after you spot the caravans in the campsite, turn right where the sign shows ‘Aphrodite Bath’ and walk back to the pool and then to the car park.