The Akamas peninsula in the northwest of the island of Cyprus is considered one of the last natural places in the country.
Far away from civilization, you can explore the mighty nature and beautiful bays. We rented an off-road vehicle for one day and drove across the peninsula. In this article, I would like to take you on our tour and give tips for your own trip!
Our adventure started in Polis, east of the Akamas peninsula. To be able to use the full day, we were already at half past eight at the rental station, so that we had filled out the forms at eight with the company and had discussed everything. At 17 o'clock we should bring the buggy back again. We had an exciting day ahead of us.
From the rental, we drove back to our accommodation, packed the most essential items and started our tour. We followed the main road south to Paphos but soon turned right. The street became narrower and empty.
Places to Explore in Cyprus With an SUV
The Abandoned Village of Androlikou
Our first stop was the abandoned Turkish Cypriot village of Androlikou. During our entire trip to Cyprus, we did not visit a place where we could see the consequences of the Cyprus conflict so clearly.
Androlikou was the reception center for many displaced Turkish Cypriots from the neighboring villages. After most men were arrested in Androlikou in 1974 as prisoners of war to exchange them for Greek Cypriot prisoners of war, finally, the entire town was evacuated in 1975. Some villagers were able to secretly flee across the mountains to the Turkish-controlled north, with most people resettled in the northern communities.
Since then, Androlikou has been a ghost village, where not even a handful of people live. Most buildings are destroyed and abandoned. From the mosque only the entrance gate and the foundations were recognizable. We let the strangely depressing mood of the place affect us, shot a few photos and set off again.
Alone with Nature
We passed vineyards and finally reached a ridge with a beautiful view. A cold wind whistled around our ears. It was a bit hazy, but we could look to both sides of the island and see the sea coast. We wanted to go there! Immediately we realized what we still had a long way ahead of us.
The staff of the buggy rental company said there were two ways for us: the easy one, which is also easy to find, or the beautiful one through the forest. However, the route would be challenging to find here and not easy to navigate. For us, it was immediately clear that we would like to take the better way. While I tried to find my way around the map, Francis gave full throttle, and we followed a gravel road towards the sea.
The track became hilly, and it was tough to see where the right path was going. Our buggy rolled over the white rocks. Suddenly the path ended between two little bushes. Before us, the gravel road led down a steep slope. That could not be the right way! We put the buggy in reverse and looked for another path. For a long time, we did not meet anybody we could have asked. Only a herd of goats came by and blocked our onward journey.
We found another track that finally led us downhill to the coast. We do not know if we had really gone the difficult way or had taken a route that was not available for choice. It was beautiful, and we had lots of fun!
From now on we could not miss the right way anymore. Other off-road vehicles came towards us, sand was whirling in the air, and we were glad to have our buff wipes as mouth guards.
Avakas Gorge – In the Grand Canyon of Cyprus
The gravel road led us along the coast to the south. We parked the buggy in a shady spot and walked on foot. For thousands of years, a small river has carved a deep ravine into the limestone. We followed the short trail that leads to the three-kilometer Avakas Gorge. Partially it is only a few meters wide. We were utterly overwhelmed by the beauty of this gorge and the countless photo opportunities.
At the Turtle Beach
Back in our buggy we followed the coast north and arrived at Lara Beach. Far away from civilization, we found our favorite beach. This excellent sandy beach is nestled between the hills and rocks of the Akamas National Park. In the most different shades of blue shone the calm water and forced us to take a more extended break. There was a lot of flotsam in the sand, but that too could not relieve our enthusiasm for the beach.
The way to this spot is only 4x4 recommended. So if you want to go to Lara Beach, you should definitely rent an off-road vehicle or have good insurance for your rental car. On the way to the beach, you pass a large sign "Lara Bay Beach." Do not be fooled by this, because this guide will take you to another beach. The real Lara Beach is a bit further north.
Depending on what time of year you are on the beach, there are many protection efforts along the shore with the signs "Turtle Nest - Do Not Disturb." Lara Beach is one of the few turtle breeding grounds in the Mediterranean.
Pay close attention to where you go and pay attention to the following rules to protect the animals:
- Do not disturb the nests
- Stay on the existing path and do not destroy the sand dunes vegetation
- Do not place beach chairs, umbrellas, tents, etc.
- Take your trash back with you
- Do not stay overnight on the beach or near the coast
- Do not make a fire in the area
- Do not drive a car on the beach and do not tolerate such actions
- Do not anchor with the boat in front of the sanctuary
- Fishing is only allowed with a fishing rod
At the end of the beach, there is a small hut of the turtle organization. Here you can find out more about the turtles and the protection program on the information boards.
In the high season Lara Beach will undoubtedly be busier, but in November it was wonderfully quiet with hardly any people on the beach.
After we had cooled down in the sea, we swung back into the buggy, strapped ourselves and made our way to the next station. Parallel to the coast, we followed the sandy paths to the north.
Deep holes slowed us down again and again. For our buggy, these were not an obstacle. Slowly we rummaged through the mud-filled pits. As soon as we had dry ground yet, Francis stepped on the gas, and the mud on the wheels was whirled upwards. Yuck! I quickly tried to protect our camera under my arms and became covered in brown spots. If anyone had met us, he would not have believed that we had just been swimming at Lara Beach.
Since we left the dream beach behind, we were completely alone with nature again. No other vehicle was visible. It was already quite late, so we hardly took any breaks and tried to make a long distance quickly. We reached a signpost that now sends us inland towards Fontana Amoroza.
The Bath of Aphrodite
The east coast of the Akamas peninsula is known for its beautiful, crystal-clear bays. According to legend, Aphrodite is said to have met Adonis for the first time at Fontana Amoroza and to have fallen madly in love with him. When we reached the bay, we were welcomed by a strong wind. Big waves whipped against the coast and only gave us an idea of where the turquoise blue coves should be.
The Blue Lagoon a few meters further fought with the weather. According to the locals, it is supposed to be the most beautiful bay in Cyprus, but unfortunately, the different blue tones were not recognizable. Nevertheless, we were thrilled by the spectacular fountains that rushed up the cliffs. Far and wide no other tourists were to be seen.
Past the Manolis and Amphitheater Bay, we drove along the narrow gravel road back to Polis. The sun was already starting to say goodbye, and we had only a little time to return our buggy in time.
One last stop was at the bath of Aphrodite. The small cave was now pretty dark. Water dripped from the stone walls. According to mythology, Aphrodite is said to have been waiting here for Adonis while he was killed by the jealous Ares.
The last few kilometers we came forward faster than expected, so we reached the car rental point at 17 clock and returned a bit wistfully to our dirty buggy.
Essential tips for your tour of the Akamas Peninsula
If you also want to explore the Akamas Peninsula in Cyprus, I have summarized the three most relevant information for you:
1. Rent an SUV
For your Akamas tour, there are various off-road vehicles to choose from: quads, buggies, motorcycles but also mountain bikes. For two people we can absolutely recommend a buggy! We were glad that during the eight hours we had decent seats, a roof for sun protection and a rack for the backpacks.
We rented the big buggy with more power (800 cc) and paid in the low season 100 euros including insurance and gasoline. Compared to an average rental car, the price is overly expensive but absolutely worth the fun! Depending on the season, this price may vary. If you only want to drive along the coast, maybe even the smaller version (500 cc for 80 €) is enough. On the steeper routes in the mountains, we were pleased that the landlord advised us to take the more powerful variant.
2. Find the Right Route
Especially the first stage from Polis over the mountains to Lara Beach is not very easy to find. We had a map from the car rental company and also made sure over and over again with Google Maps whether we could be on the right track. If you have great respect for exploring the peninsula alone, you can also rent a tour. The guides know the routes well and also have better time management. We really had to accelerate along the east coast so we could leave the park in the light.
However, you must also be aware that the cars stir up a lot of dirt and dust. If you go on a tour in a column, you get all the dirt from the vehicle in front of you.
Another alternative is to explore the Akamas Peninsula on foot. If you like hiking, this is undoubtedly a great way to discover the nature of the Penisula.
3. Packing List for Your Akamas Tour
We also come to another critical point. Things you should not forget about your trip:
- Cloth for protection: We were glad that we had our Buff cloths with us. These were not only excellent protection from the sun, but also as a scarf a good mask against the dust.
- Water: Very important! On the track, we hardly saw any possibilities where we could have bought water. There is a café on Lara Bay which also sells small bottles of water. So please remember to bring enough water! We had three large bottles with us, which were already pretty scarce from Lara Beach. If you also rent a buggy with a cargo area, better take a bottle more rather than too little.
- Food: The food is similar to the water. We prepared sandwiches in our accommodation before the tour.
- Sunscreen: With the chilly wind, you can quickly forget how much the sun burns on your skin. Do not forget to lubricate with sunscreen!
- Headgear: At lunchtime, the sun can burn quite strong, and we had to be careful not to get any sun-stroke. In November, the sun was not high enough that the buggy roof could always protect us. Fortunately, we had a cap next to the buff towels. Make sure you do not lose them while driving! We had to stop several times because it was blown away by the wind.
- Slicker: Especially in the morning, the breeze is still pretty cool, which I strongly advise you to pack a windproof rain jacket.
Travel tip shared by Drone Traveller