We had a leisurely start to the morning in our apartment before getting in the hire car and driving north from Paphos, towards the town of Polis. The route took us through the built up coastal area outside Paphos, before turning inland and taking us through increasingly hilly countryside, towards the island's northern coast. As we drove along we saw fields of rather unusual trees by the side of the road... The fruit was mostly wrapped in blue plastic, presumably to protect it, so it took a while before I realised they were banana trees
Once we reached Polis, we turned left along a pretty coast road. Our destination was the Akamas peninsula, a small peninsula sticking out into the sea at the northwestern corner of Cyprus. The peninsula is protected as a nature reserve and has escaped the sort of development which has taken place along much of the island's coastline, because until 2000 it was used by the British army as a shooting range. There's no shooting these days, but that history, combined with the remote location, mean that there are not even any tarmac roads on the peninsula. The coast road eventually comes to an end at a car park, and you can only travel onwards by foot or on a jeep tour.
A lot of people who come here don't, in fact, intend to go very far at all, but have come to visit a tourist attraction called "The Baths of Aphrodite". This is a pool where legend says that the goddess Aphrodite used to bathe. From the car park, a well-signposted path led uphill towards the baths.
When we got there, I think it's fair to say that we both found it a bit underwhelming
It looked like quite a dark, dank pool and it smelled a bit funny. There was some water dripping down from the rocks, which was quite pretty, but we didn't linger long.
Fortunately, we hadn't just come to Akamas to see the baths
There are several signposted walks on the peninsula. I had been considering doing the easiest one, which is a flat 6km walk along the dirt road you can see in the photo below.
In the end we decided against it, because I realised this was the same road that the jeep tours go down, and having dust blown in our faces by passing jeeps for 6km didn't sound like a very attractive prospect.
Instead, we opted to follow another signposted walk, the Aphrodite trail. This one was described by the guidebook as harder, and I knew it definitely wasn't going to be flat. We were soon climbing high above the dirt road.
The path was quite relentlessly uphill at the start, but the views were spectacular. In one direction we could see the sea and the northern coast of Cyprus...
...while in the other direction, we could see the forested interior of the peninsula.
There were a few other people on the path, but it wasn't busy by any stretch of the imagination.
We were soon so high above the parking area that we thought we must nearly be at the top.
The path led us through a bit of forest...
...and then flattened off for a while.
I'd read that the route was about 7.5km. After over an hour, we figured we must be almost halfway round. Haha, no We passed a marker telling us that all our exertions so far had taken us a mere 2km. And it soon became clear that there was a lot more uphill to go!
Could this be the top?
Nope! The path was extremely rocky in places and I was very glad that I'd managed to fit my walking boots into my carry-on sized suitcase. There's no way we could have done this in trainers!
We found a bench for a much-needed rest
Not long afterwards we came to a flatter path through the forest, where there was a map showing the route. We were doing the Aphrodite Trail and had come from the small red dot at the Baths of Aphrodite to the other small red dot labelled Pyrgos tis Rigenas. So there still seemed to be quite a lot of the trail left to do!
The good news is that the rockiest part was now behind us. The next stage of the walk was easier, although still uphill, along a forest road.
Brown metal signs with arrows cut into them showed us the way. They were actually quite hard to catch sight of, often camouflaged into the surroundings. The highest point of the walk was ultimately just below the rocky outcrop which you can see on this photo.
A bit further up the forest road...
and then we were there
We really could see for miles along the coast.
But I didn't realise that the best views were actually about to come as we started to descend.
We could now see all the way along the peninsula and it was really beautiful
I couldn't devote all my time to looking at the scenery though, because parts of the walk down were a bit challenging!
The path zigzagged its way down the hillside. In some places it was quite narrow, in other places it was covered in rather slippery gravel, and in some places it was both.
In other places there were big rocky steps to negotiate.
Overall, probably a walk which would have been better with a pole. But I definitely couldn't have fitted that into my suitcase
The path descended quite quickly and so it wasn't long until we were quite far below the rocks.
And of course, as we got lower we were closer to the wonderful views of the sea. It was such a beautiful shade of blue
Eventually the narrow path began to come to an end...
...and we were walking on part of the flatter forest road which we would have taken if we'd done the other walk.
There was a bit more uphill involved here, as the road wound its way around the hillside.
Now that we were lower we had a better view of the cliffs.
The peninsula definitely has a very rocky coastline.
There wasn't much further left to go now.
We did get passed by a couple of jeeps en route which, as predicted, blew a fair bit of dust into the air, but apart from that it was a pleasant end to the walk.
Bizarrely we did also get passed by someone who was trying to drive a small Kia rental car along the track as well, despite this sign!
It was a really spectacular walk but quite tiring, so we were both pretty hungry by this stage. Tim drove us down the coast a bit to the small town of Latsi. It was around 3pm by this point, so past the traditional lunchtime, but we found a restaurant by the sea that was still serving food
Tim had beef stifado, which seemed to be like a Greek beef stew, while I had chicken souvlaki.
We shared some baklava for pudding (well, I may have eaten most of it!) plus an iced coffee for me and milkshake for Tim.
It was really pretty on the beach...
....and we could look back towards where we'd been on the peninsula.
Overall it was a really great day and we've had a brilliant time so far in Cyprus Tomorrow we will be leaving Paphos behind and travelling on to our next destination: Platres.