Environmentalists opposed construction on Natura 2000 site, but manager highlights its green credentials
Aphrodite Family Eco-Camping, a redeveloped site on the doorstep of the Akamas and overlooking the bluest of seas below, is set to welcome the public on July 10.
It has the facilities for 17 camper vans, 43 tents, ten so-called teepees, two wooden accommodation huts, a parking lot, a volleyball court, a common cooking area and much more.
“What we’ve managed to do here is a miracle, we went above and beyond what was asked of us,” Marinos Karamanis, one of the managers of Aphrodite camping site told the Sunday Mail.
About a ten-minute drive from Latsi – which is a hub for watersports, boats and restaurants – and a 15-minute drive from the closest town, Polis Chrysochous, the camping site is well situated to link up with other activities in the area.
Nestled into the side of the hilly Akamas national park and overlooking the peninsula’s dramatic coastline, the biggest pull factor to the camping site is its proximity to nature.
But that very same allure of nature is where the controversy kicks in: the camping site is located within the Natura 2000 protected area.
The Aphrodite camping site has attempted to burnish its green credentials, saying, for example, that it had the option to build concrete walls but instead opted for “the great art of stone drywalls”.
It also argues that lighting will be kept low so as not to disturb the wildlife in the area, trees have been planted and birdhouses installed, they say.
Even so, environmentalists and specifically campaigners for the preservation of Akamas say that its Natura 2000 status has been violated; while claiming that trees were cut down in the process.
They have also dismissed the site’s claim that it is “eco”, saying it is instead greenwashing – an attempt to falsely imply that the business which has been setup is environmentally sound.
“We’ve received a lot of unfair criticism, I ask everyone to come and see it for themselves,” Karamanis said. “Come and judge it with your own eyes – don’t listen to me, see if for yourself.”
In addition, although the campsite is now a permanent fixture, the specific area has a long history of “wild” illegal camping. For decades a hodge podge of caravans and structures of varying sizes and materials were permanently situated on the site.
This led to a protracted and bitter argument between the “wild campers” and local officials before the structures were demolished and the caravans forcibly removed in September 2019.
A soft trial period will follow next week’s opening.
“We’re figuring out the final details, but we’re looking at about four euros per tent and about five euros per person but kids under 12 get in for free, there’s a parking fee too but it’s very reasonable,” Karamanis said.
And highlighting the ‘family’ in the Aphrodite Family Eco-Camping, he said the site will close at 11pm: “meaning that people won’t disturbed or woken up by people driving their cars around late at night.”
“We have some pretty clear rules. We’re also not going to allow people to blast their music and bother others, feel free to bring a guitar and sing but there won’t be people blasting music through their speakers and drugs are strictly forbidden,” Karamanis said.
And what’s up with the tepees?
“The price is the same as a tent, they’ve been installed so as not to cause an eyesore if someone has a garish tent – they can stay in the tepee instead, which blends in with its surroundings,” Karamanis told the Sunday Mail.
“There was this image of camping in Cyprus that they’re all stoners, and it sort of was, but we want families and couples to come and enjoy the site and its surrounding nature.”