North Cyprus

North Cyprus Walking Tour: Birds, Flowers and Crusader Castles


By mid-April, the eastern Mediterranean is already benefiting from warm sunshine and clear blue skies. An extraordinary profusion of wildflowers carpets the landscape and large numbers of northbound migrant birds pass daily, adding a special dimension to walks in the dramatic mountain and coastal scenery.

 

With few visitors, low-key development and monuments ranging from Phoenician and Bronze Age sites to Venetian fortifications and splendid Crusader castles, the North part of Cyprus is a tranquil and rewarding destination. We enjoy accommodation in an outstanding hotel and two sustainable tourism projects in traditional villages and sample excellent Turkish Cypriot cuisine and wines.

HIGHLIGHTS of our North Cyprus walking tour include:

  • Bird watching walks in unspoilt Mediterranean countryside to find red-footed falcons, masked shrikes, Cretzchmar’s buntings and golden orioles  
  • Orchids: Holy, Bug, Pyramidal, Monkey, Naked Man, Ploughshare, Bee, Spider and the endemic Kotschy’s
  • A day participating in traditional village activities – baking bread in a brush-fired oven, milking goats and making fresh sheep’s cheeses  
  • Exploring Crusader castles, the atmospheric archaeological site of Greek Salamis, the 13th century Bellapais Abbey and the Venetian fortifications of Famagusta  
  • 6 days discovering the Karpaz peninsula, a virtually untouched corner of traditional, old Cyprus
 

Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘We had a truly memorable trip. Wonderful location to be able to visit and have interpreted for us.’

'Most relaxing holiday in quiet, unspoilt places. Enjoyable walks and great food and company as always. Learning more about the history and people of Cyprus, particularly the remarkable Ismail and Lois, was an added bonus. I never cease to be amazed at the amount of research that goes into these trips – finding the perfect walk, the best food and accommodation.'

‘One of the most enjoyable holidays ever. We are already looking forward to the next Kudu trip.’

DAY 1  
D included
After arriving at Larnaca airport, we drive through the mountains (1.5 hrs) to our hotel, where we are based for the next 6 nights. This very comfortable hotel (recently voted the best hotel in N. Cyprus) is owned by a particularly welcoming family, has an excellent Slow Food restaurant and is beautifully situated beside the 13th century Bellapais Abbey. It has an attractive pool, gardens scented with jasmine and orange blossom, Scops owls calling at night, and superb views down to the coast.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
We set off this morning to explore the romantic mountain-top Crusader castle of St. Hilarion, with its extravagantly crenellated walls and towers and long history as the summer residence of the Kings of Cyprus. We walk on paths through the valley below. Wild iris and sages, anemones and rock roses are all about us and bird species include the Sardinian warbler and the endemic Cyprus pied wheatear and Cyprus warbler. We have an alfresco lunch in the whitewashed village of Karaman, then follow a quiet track which is particularly rewarding for orchids. Dinner in a traditional village restaurant is a typical meze, an array of small dishes reflecting the centuries of Turkish, Lebanese and Greek influences.

DAY 3
B, L, D included
Cape Korucam to the west is an unspoilt area of maquis and small carob orchards which is excellent in the spring for the diurnal migration of bee-eaters, woodchat shrikes, hoopoes, black-eared wheatears and golden orioles. We walk a circular route past the lighthouse, seeing many orchids on the heathland, enjoy a local lunch, then have a free afternoon to explore the magnificent gothic ruin of Bellapais Abbey and Bellapais village, once Lawrence Durrell’s home and the setting for ‘Bitter Lemons’.

DAY 4
B, L, D included
A long morning walk (on an easy forestry track) in the mountains above Lapta village offers marvellous scenery and many birds and flowers, including myriad orchids. We enjoy lunch overlooking the yacht-filled harbour in Kyrenia and have a free afternoon to explore the fine 9th century Byzantine castle with its subsequent Lusignan and Venetian additions and an excellent Shipwreck Museum exhibiting a cargo ship wrecked in the fourth century BC (complete with its cargo of almonds and wine amphorae); or shop for ceramics, kilims and locally woven baskets.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
This morning, we stroll from the hotel down an ancient cobbled track once used by the Crusaders, then drive high up into the Besparmak mountains to walk on a well-graded track through a beautiful natural forest of Calabrian pine, the indigenous Evergreen Cypress and Eastern Strawberry Tree. Birds such as masked shrikes, Cretzschmar’s buntings and great spotted cuckoos may be seen and raptors, including goshawk and peregrine, are often soaring above the crags. We return to our hotel for some time to relax in the gardens. Dinner tonight, within the floodlit ruins of Bellapais Abbey, is a memorable experience.

DAY 6
B, L, D included
We drive round to the south side of the Kyrenia range for a day looking specifically for orchids and Cyprus endemics. We investigate a small wetland, with breeding spur-winged plovers, follow an escarpment edge (good for little owls and raptor watching) and hope to find Holy Orchid, Bug Orchid, Ploughshare Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid, Giant fennel and many anemones, as well as the wild asparagus that all Cypriots collect to eat in the spring.

DAY 7
B, L, D included
En route to the Karpaz peninsula, the island ‘panhandle’ which extends northeast towards the coast of Anatolia, we visit the superbly sited Crusader castle of Kantara. Traditionally considered to be where Commenus surrendered to Richard the Lionheart in 1191, the castle enjoys commanding views, with Alpine swifts and very occasionally griffon vultures floating above the cedar forests. We walk gradually down a track with long views, as we make our way to a small Karpaz village where we stay for three nights in comfortable, newly built rooms in an orange grove, run as a sustainable tourism project.

DAY 8
B, L, D included
This morning, we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Cypriot village life, learning to bake traditional Cypriot bread in a brush-fired oven, make fresh goat and sheep’s cheeses, and prepare organic vegetable dishes; culminating by eating the fruits of our labour for lunch. We also explore the village on foot, seeing the olive oil mill and village handicrafts, including artefacts carved from olive, juniper and cypress, wild fennel stools and hand-woven bags. In the afternoon, we walk along a ridge above the sea, enjoying marvellous views and looking out for migrating golden orioles and bee-eaters.

DAY 9
B, L, D included
After a short drive, we wander through the impressive ruins of Salamis, reputedly founded by Teucer on his return from the Trojan War. We walk or swim from the sandy beach and visit the monastery of St. Barnabas, now an icon museum. In the mediaeval centre of Famagusta, the 14th century Lusignan cathedral was converted into the Lala Mustafa Pasha mosque by the Ottomans, following the terrible siege of 1571. We admire the colossal Venetian fortifications (Leonardo da Vinci acted as consultant) and Othello’s Tower, which inspired Shakespeare, then enjoy tea and delicious Turkish pastries before investigating a wetland area which usually holds good numbers of waders including black-winged stilts, ruff and purple heron.

DAY 10
B, L, D included
Following a leisurely start, we drive the old road on the protected southern side of the Karpaz peninsula, pausing for some short birding walks along the way. After a village lunch, we walk for a couple of hours down from the escarpment to the sea, then settle into our final small hotel, an imaginative group of stylish stone village ‘houses’.

DAY 11
B, L, D included
We spend the day exploring this remote and unspoilt peninsula, virtually uninhabited and a proposed national park. Colourful rollers perch on olive trees and the curious grating call of the black francolin is the only sound. ‘Falls’ of migrants can occur, with good numbers of larks, pipits, wagtails and warblers, and the very rare Audouin’s Gull breeds just offshore.  After visiting the Greek Orthodox church of St. Andreas, we swim and walk on a delightful long sandy beach. Dinner may well be a classic Cypriot dish of lamb, herbs and vegetables, baked for hours in a clay oven, accompanied by robust red wine from the Turkish mainland.

DAY 12
B, L, D included

Continuing our exploration of Karpaz we walk on paths through the aromatic maquis, where we often surprise the famous wild donkeys, looking out for turban buttercups and Cyprus gladioli and observing raptor migration overhead, especially falcons and harriers. Red-rumped swallows swoop around us as we enjoy lunch beside the 10th century Byzantine church of Ayios Philon, its ruined mosaic flooring half smothered in wildflowers. In the afternoon, we may swim from the beach or look for birds and flowers along the coastal track, before returning to our hotel for a farewell dinner in the village.

DAY 13
B included

Driving west, we pass fields where hay is already being harvested and red-footed falcons often gather to feed on crickets. We pause to join the sheep wandering the mosaic floors of the delightfully bucolic 5th century basilica of Ayas Trias, then continue to Larnaca airport for flights home.

Per person sharing:
£2,673.25 until 6th July 2018 
£2,745.50 until 6th October 2018
£2,817.75 until 6th January 2019
£2,890 after 6th January 2019 
https://www.kudutravel.com/faq#discounts 

£400 deposit per person
£320 
single room supplement

Please note that the single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible, but hotels in some countries do have single rooms that are small and less well positioned - in this case the supplement is simply ensuring your privacy.

 
Price includes
  • All accommodation for Days 1 to 13, on a twin/double shared basis
  • All meals (with wine at lunches and dinners) as listed in the daily notation
  • All land transportation in a private vehicle as described except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees except during free periods
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff and driver (appreciation for tour leaders/managers is entirely at your discretion)
 
Price does not include
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • International transport to and from Cyprus
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol other than wine with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Cyprus departure tax, if any   

VALUE FOR MONEY - SO MUCH IS INCLUDED

On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 6 nights in Bellapais, in a welcoming family hotel which was recently awarded the title of ‘Best Hotel’ in North Cyprus and has a Slow Food restaurant and a swimming pool

  • 3 nights in an arched stone house in a small Karpaz village, recently converted as a sustainable tourism project

  • 3 nights in an imaginative group of stylish stone village ‘houses’ in Dipkarpaz

Read this blog article about the endemic plants you are likely to see.
 

Tour Leader
Fi Lowry 
has been an elected member of the British Ornithologists Union since 1985 and in 1993 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. She has led bird trips to numerous European and North African destinations plus Jordan, Israel, Syria, East Africa and South Africa.

Fi has also travelled extensively on an independent basis to the majority of the important European birding sites (from Iceland to the Danube delta), the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Uganda, Zaire, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Rio Tambo Pata Reserve in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Patagonia, Oman, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and Madagascar. She has participated in many scientific expeditions including the original ornithological survey of South Yemen and Socotra island, the Cyprus Akamas Peninsula Migration Survey, and the ICBP migration survey in Senegal.

Responsible Travel
In keeping with our commitment to responsible tourism, on five nights of the trip we stay in village projects supporting sustainable tourism on the Karpaz peninsula.

Visa and Health Requirements             

Currently all visitors require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to North Cyprus.

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to North Cyprus. You may wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.

Insurance
It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured, or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party 
This trip will run with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 14 guests.


Downloads