The Karpass Peninsula

I’m just back from a few days of work in Cyprus, but decided to take yesterday exploring the Karpass peninsula, the long thin panhandle of the northeast of the island. (Top marks, by the way, to Sun Rent A Car who fixed me up with an efficient Fiat Panda for €23 for a generously measured 24 hours.) My work keeps me in Nicosia, with occasional evening excursions to Kyrenia, and I wanted to see a bit more of the island.

I started off by exploring the ruins of Salamis, a ancient city on the east of the island north of Famagusta (St Paul visited). The ruins are pretty overgrown but the theatre survives:

and there is the occasional exposed trackway:

and a very few scraps of mosaic:

To my delight I caught sight of some local wildlife – can you see it?

It’s a stellion – handsome creature, isn’t it!

The apostle Barnabas came from Salamis and the former monastery where he is reputedly buried is nearby:

The interior is now a museum:

The coast immediately north of Salamis is getting very touristy: lots of new build development, lots of posters advertising property (all in English); I bought some petrol at Boğaz where the dual carriageway ends (and I’ll come back to that later) and proceeded up the peninsula. I decided that I would simply press on to the very tip of the island, to see what I could see. I was hoping that I would catch sight of some of the Karpass peninsula’s most famous wild animals, and my hopes were rewarded:

The donkeys are apparently their own subspecies. Not terribly wild, but not terribly inclined to talk to humans either (which is understandable). This is the closest I got to one, but of course the sun was in the wrong place:

The peninsula as a whole is incredibly lush and fertile compared to the rest of the island. I suppose it must have a favourabvle microclimate – it can’t just be donkey droppings!

Near the tip of the island is the monastery of Apostolos Andreas, which is busy with worshippers – mainly Greek Cypriots who I suspect had come up the same way as me, though there are some remaining Greek Cypriot villages in the peninsula.

I drove right to the tip of the island, the mound in the middle of this picture:

The road took me past this magnificent beach, apparently also a breeding ground for turtles (though this was the wrong time of year). I changed into my trunks and got my feet wet, but the water was not yet quite warm enough to entice me for a dip (notice how empty it is):

Having picked up a rather late lunch at the Blue Sea Hotel, I decided I had time for one more sight: Kantara (or Candara) Castle, which guards the entrance to the peninsula. It’s a long way up, and the buildings are pretty ruined:

But the views from the top are fantastic – here looking northeast along the peninsula which I had spent the day exploring:

and here looking southeast down to Famagusta and the bay:

At this point it was time to head back to Nicosia, to return the car and meet up with a friend (who had spotted that I was in Cyprus from my Facebook updates). But I realised to my horror that the little Fiat’s fuel tank was almost empty – the needle right down at the end of the red zone. And I was at the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. I checked with the warden at the castle, who confirmed that the nearest petrol station was the one I had filled up in earlier at Boğaz, 18 km (11.5 miles) away. I had no choice; I set the car going downhill as gently as I could, and tripped the meter on so that I could monitor how much fuel it was using. I was really impressed – by the time I trickled into Boğaz, my average usage coming down from the castle was 2.8 litres per 100 km, which equates (as I learn thanks to Facebook) to almost 100 miles per gallon. I was also very relieved, and put in far more than enough fuel to get me back to Nicosia. I was about half an hour late returning the car, but that was as much due because of my difficulties in grappling with the weirdness of the street layout. And Sun, as I said before, were flexible.

So, strongly recommended, but it’s quite a long day out – I left Nicosia at 8 am and didn’t get back until 6.30. But in the summer one could take longer over it by exploiting the late evenings (and, if so inclined, starting early in the morning).

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1 Response to The Karpass Peninsula

  1. mountainkiss says:

    I wish I were you.

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