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The natural ‘face’ of Larnaca

dom tourism1

For a walking tour of the island, the seaside district’s nature trails are an ideal place to start hears PAUL LAMBIS

Thinking of Larnaca, many things come to mind. Thousands of pink flamingos resting in the Salt Lake, the impressive 18th century aqueduct that once channelled water to the city, the magnificent stone church of Saint Lazarus in the centre of the old town, the palm-lined promenade with its eateries, sandy beaches, and medieval fort, and a bevy of museums showcasing everything from the contemporary to the nostalgic elegance of a bygone era.

Although Larnaca is a thriving and modern European city rich in ancient culture of contrasting civilisations and architecture, the district stretches out to thriving rural villages and mountainous areas ideal for discovering natural landscapes along the region’s designated nature trails.

dom tourism2“Hiking through Larnaca’s nature trails is a popular activity, especially during the cooler months,” Larnaca Tourism Board officer Nana Asmeni Pavlou said. “The region is brimming with exciting experiences, from viewing migratory birds close to the town centre to exploring forests outside the city.”

In addition to the obvious physical and mental benefits, hiking provides the opportunity to escape the mundane, to slow down, connect with nature, and tune into one’s self. Another major draw, according to Asmeni Pavlou, is the camaraderie and sense of community among hikers. “Visitors have frequently reported forging lifelong connections as a result of their hiking adventures.”

The Larnaca region offers a variety of nature trails including the beach trail that takes in the coastal front of Larnaca Bay, the Salt Lake with its majestic migratory birds and interesting plant life, the Rizoelia National Forest Park with its walking and cycling paths, including picnic facilities, to the striking diversity of landscapes in the mountainous regions of Stavrovouni, Vavatsinia, Lefkara and Kionia.

Along with Cyprus’ deputy ministry of tourism and the Troodos Network, the Larnaca Tourism Board has teamed up with the communities of Odou, Vavla and Vavatsinia to create the island’s first themed nature trails, the first of which will be implemented this year.

dom tourism3“This project aims to protect and promote the vital role bees play in our ecosystem while also enhancing Larnaca’s mountain tourism product,” Asmeni Pavlou told Living. “Sadly, several of the villages were hit by summer fires that ruined the land and the bees’ ecology. However, hope can emerge from disaster, as the creation of three beekeeping and honey themed nature trails will see the area regenerated once more.”

The Rural Larnaca Honey Villages are a collection of nine small villages that engage in beekeeping and honey production and have their own distinct, collective identity. “The villages will each have a unique nature trail that has a particular theme and connects to the broader beekeeping and honey producing concept.

“All the routes will be marked with signage, maps and information. Beehive models will also be used in novel ways, such as containers or places to sit. To increase nectar and bee productivity, bee-friendly trees and vegetation will be planted, and water sources and bee ‘hotels’ will be installed.”

domestic tourism4The Larnaca region is also an area of birdwatching and conservation significance. “Thanks to its unique location on the migratory route from Europe, Asia and Africa, Cyprus is a key breeding spot that sees around 250 million birds passing through each autumn and spring, including bright pink flamingos in their numbers and wild fowl that frequent Larnaka Salt Lake and Oroklini Lake,” she added.

“A walking getaway may be considered by some to be a little unusual, but we think it is the perfect way to explore the island, and Larnaca’s nature trails are the ideal place to start.”

 

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