Walking and Exploring in North Cyprus - 5th to 12th October 2013

Walking in Cyprus

Based in the quaint coastal town of Kyrenia with its picturesque harbour, we stay in a good quality hotel with excellent amenities where we can look forward to a week of guided walks. The walks include ruined crusader castles, monasteries, coastal paths, forest paths and tranquil villages with traditional coffee shops. Our local guide will help to unfold the wonders of his native country and introduce us to areas of outstanding natural beauty. Walks are graded easy to moderate and are suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit.

Following the heat of summer, October is the perfect time for exploring and walking in this delightful island, and the Northern area has many little-known surprises for us to discover.

Travel from London is Stansted to Ercan Airport in North Cyprus with Pegasus Airways, stopping briefly en-route at Atalya, Istanbul. From Manchester we take a Monarch Airline flight direct to Larnaca. Travel in connection with the walks and visits to places of interest is by private mini-buses. You are free to join in some or all of the walks and activities, or you may be tempted to spend time relaxing at the hotel.

Forest walk

Day 1 - Saturday 5 October 2013 - Travel (D)

Fly Pegasus Airways or Monarch from Stansted or Manchester to Ercan Airport or Larnaca respectively. Other regional airports may be available on request.

Day 2 - Sunday 6 October 2013 - Kalkanli Grove (BLD)

After a morning briefing by our guide we set off on our first walk. This is supported walking and a vehicle will occasionally meet us to transfer the group between some sections and deliver delicious home-cooked lunches. Please note: North Cyprus has many paths and tracks to discover. Because of this and occasional access restrictions, walks during the week may differ from those shown below, which are for illustration only.

Bellapais Abbey ruins

We start the week with an interesting walk over meadows and on field tracks through ancient olive tree growth. It is undulating terrain with one steep uphill climb to an old ruined Forest Station from where there is a good view over the Bay of Güzelyurt. This is a non-challenging and interesting walk for the first day.  Distance approx. 9.5km - 3.15hrs.

Dinner in a harbour-side restaurant.

Day 3 - Monday 7 October 2013 - Five Finger Pass to Buffavento Castle and Taskent Village (BLD)

This morning we walk along a narrow, twisted and mostly stoney path towards the starting point of a steep climb up a narrow stepped path to Buffavento Castle ruins. Dramatically located on a rocky outcrop, Buffavento is the highest Crusader castle on the island, set at an altitude of 954m. We have time to explore its imposing ruins before lunch. Built in Byzantine times, Buffavento was once used by the King as a hideaway from Richard the Lionheart but the King's daughter is said to have surrendered the castle to the Crusaders in 1191. We can take in the extensive views south and north from the Castle walls whilst enjoying our picnic lunch.

After lunch our private coach takes us to the beginning of another track (there is the option to drive to and visit the ruins of the Absinthiotissa Monastery first) where we walk down a rough and stoney track with lovely views across the plain. There are good view of a huge rock arch in the distance as we continue down until reaching the village of Taskent.

Walk 1: 10.5 km. 3.5 hrs

Walk 2: 4 km. 1 hr.

Salamis ruins

Dinner in a harbour-side restaurant.

Day 4 - Tuesday 8 October 2013 - Free Day or optional Turkish Gulit boat cruise (BLD)

Free time to relax at the hotel, or explore the island further. One option is a visit to Karpaz Peninsula, known locally as the Panhandle. Now a National Park, attractions include wildlife, flowers, wild donkeys, monasteries and excellent beach walks. The price for the day is around £35.00 including private transport, guide and lunch. Another option is to take a relaxing Gulit cruise on a local Turkish boat.

Dinner in a harbour-side restaurant.

Day 5 - Wednesday 9 October 2013 - Besparmak to Panayia Plataniotissa and Sourp Magar (BD)

We have a shady walk today through pine forest on generally narrow tracks with some steep inclines and stoney descents, passing the ruins of Panayia Plataniotissa as we go. We stop at a good viewing platform, christened "lovers leap" by the locals.

We continue down an easy narrow forest track towards the ruins of the Armanian Monastery of Sourp Magar and up a fairly steep climb on an asphalt road to a picnic area above.

Walk 1: 8.1 km. 2.40 hrs

Walk 2: 3.5 km. 1:15 hrs

Dinner in a harbour-side restaurant.

Day 6 - Thursday 10 October 2013 - Mallidag to Antiphonitis Monastery (BLD)

From the village of Mallidag, the walk today is on a ridge track through delightful pine forest towards the ruins of the cloister of Antiphonitist and its 12th Century church.

Walk: 15 km. 4hrs

Dinner in the Hotel.

Forest trail

Day 7 - Friday 11 October 2013 - Ilgaz Village over Karaman Village to St. Hilarion Castle (BLD)

Our last day of walking starts from the village of Ilgaz. We follow an easy track towards the romantic village of Karaman (foreigners village) and on towards the castle of St. Hilarion. This is probably the most impressive castle in Cyprus. There is a steep climb to the top which takes about an hour but is well worth it for the reward of impressive views over the Medditerranean Sea and Besparmak (Five Fingers) Mountain.

Walk: 9 km. 2hrs

Dinner at Kybele Restaurant, Bellapias Village. There is often a classical concert at Bellapias Abbey on a Friday evening. We may want to go.

Day 8 - Saturday 12 October 2013 - Return flight to UK (B)

Stansted passengers: After an early breakfast in the Hotel, transfer by private coach to Ercan Airport for the return flight to the UK with Pegasus Airlines. This flight is routed via Istanbul where the same aircraft resumes its flight to Ercan after a stopover of 45 minutes.

Manchester passengers: Breakfast in the hotel followed by a day at leisure. Arrangements will be made with the hotel for some rooms to be available to use as a base, leave luggage, shower etc, subject to availability. Optional dinner in a local restaurant, then transfer by private coach to Lanarca International Airport for the Monarch Airlines flight to Manchester.

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner

Cyprus beach

Our base for the week is the Hotel Onar, which is highly acclaimed and where we are assured of a warm welcome. All rooms are air-conditioned with private balconies and full facilities. Rooms are comfortable, quite spacious and decorated with warm colours and parquet floors. Large glass-panelled doors lead to each room's balcony. Twenty-four hour room service is available. Cushioned sun loungers and palm trees surround the outdoor pools.

Breakfast is taken in the hotel's restaurant, picnic lunches are provided for the walking programme and dinners will either be in delightful harbour-side restaurants in the old town of Kyrenia or in the Hotel's own restaurant. Although it is only a 20 minute walk to the harbour, private transport will be provided both ways when we eat in the harbour. A dramatic crusader castle dominates the end of the quay, and a backdrop formed by the Besparmak (Five Finger) Mountains, minarets, mosques, Venetian facades and inviting restaurants all add to the harbour's charm.

Outbound - Saturday 5th October 2013
Depart Manchester (T1)
Arrive Larnaca

Depart Stansted
Arrive Ercan
Inbound - Saturday 12th October 2013
Depart Larnaca
Arrive Manchester (T1)

Depart Ercan
Arrive Stansted
0300 (13 October)



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