In the previous article I, Dmitry Gridin, told you about safari tours in Troodos. This part is about West Cyprus and trips that are offered in that region.
Akamas, Jeep safari and sea ride to the Blue Lagoon
Akamas and Troodos are two main places of pilgrimage among tourists, who like to spend a lot of time in the nature. Therefore the main part of safari “roads” lead there. To visit Akamas I opted for a combined tour. In this case you will have a Jeep ride and sail on a boat in one trip.
I found this kind of offer by big and famous travel company Ascot-travel. The trip is performed on Fridays. The price is 70 Euros. Meal is not included to the cost but they serve wine and fruits on the boat for free.
Everything is perfect with time management by those guys. They picked me up right on time in the morning, exactly as it was promised. No delays. We departed from Limassol riding same proverbial Defenders (the office of the company is located in Pafos but I decided to get free transfer this time). Except now I took a front seat and didn’t go pitter-pat with my head. And besides, even when there were two Jeeps, each one was half empty. The representatives of the company didn’t pack us as sardines in a can in one car, what I’m really thankful for.
The guide-driver was both quite young and friendly this time. It was moderate talk about Cyprus and its features watered down by moderate jokes. He spoke English because there were no Russians except me on that trip. The rest of our car was represented by a couple of retired Brits and two young Germans.
The first stop: the Aphrodite’s Rock. What a trip without it, right? Okay, okay, I know it’s one of the main sights and these people see it for the first time. I understand that. I’ll take the bench in the shade while waiting for Brits and Germans to get enough swimming.
The second stop: it’s already on Akamas, at the Lara Beach. Is it beautiful? Undoubtedly! Great beach and marvelous landscapes. Everywhere are metal constructions created to protect turtle nests. By the way there are two places with the same name here: Lara Beach and Lara Bay. It’s two different locations that shouldn’t be confused (the locals do it all the time). The beach is more picturesque than the bay and is situated far from the near settlements. We spent around 15 minutes here and went on.
The next stop — unexpectedly in Fasli village. In fact it’s not even Akamasany more. Just a tiny mountain village close to the road heading to the North of Cyprus (again you’d better not confuse North of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus because not all the parts in the North are occupied).
The place we stopped at had quite good panorama view providing you with 3 minutes of joy. We spend another couple of minutes sitting on the bench while our guide showed the map and told about history of the occupation in Cyprus. Then we drove on. To the Aphrodite’s Bath.
As local “Russian radio” says “I get an impression that the only thing Aphrodite did on the island was swimming and taking baths”. Because huge number of touristic places in Cyprus mention Aphrodite in their names anyway.
And “Bath” is not an exception from this rule. Well, of course it’s not some kind of bathtub but a small natural water reservoir covered with tourists like dropped ice cream with ants. The place is really famous and popular but not very interesting to my personal taste. Many of my friends said exactly the same things in their reviews. It’s rather just well promoted touristic destination around which businessmen happily opened their shops, hotels and restaurants. You will spend there more than 5 minutes just because you need to wait in the line if you want to take a picture.
And again the most important part of the trip — lunch! This time we had a break in a restaurant with the same name — “Aphrodite’s Bath”. I quickly checked reviews on Google. The ranking is 4.1 based on 1800 reviews. Not a wow, but it’ll do. However the last bunch of feedback was negative. But let’s roll the dice!
The food turned to be good contrary to my fears. But not that delicious to come to this place one more time. Well, the prices in the restaurant are also quite Limassol-ish. Actually this part of the island (Polis and Latchi village) is famous for the cheapest fish restaurants in Cyprus. They usually serve cheap but with tasty cuisine.
An important nuance: you have to order the food. It’s okay if going to a restaurant is your main activity for today. It’s different when you are just passing by and want to grab some snack. One hour and a half of my life were gone because of this damn restaurant. You are still keeping in mind that the trip costs whole 70 Euros! Previous option with smorgasbord I told you about matches with safari trips much better I think. You put some food from here and there to your plate, eat it quickly and off we go again.
But all right. The restaurant wasn’t that bad all in all. By the way the sea view it has from the patio is just brilliant.
After lunch we packed back into our Defender and reached small port in Latchi village in 15 minutes. I chatted a little bit with Brits while we were waiting for the departure (around half an hour), I was curious about their impressions of our safari tour. Well, everything was okay according to them but the huge fly in the safari ointment was for them our vehicle. Seems like it’s not an easy task to find a tourist in this world, who could say something nice about Defender cars.
I wasn’t super excited about our trip too. It didn’t feel more comfortable even when our driver joked for the fiftieth time that the bumps on the road are included to the program as an exclusive safari-massage.
The boat trip brought way more different experience with it. The ship was small but cozy with very comfortable seats. Another plus point was a life musical performance during the trip. It took about an hour to get to the Blue Lagoon cruising along Akamas peninsula and observing beautiful landscapes. I was as excited as a puppy on its first walk.
Blue Lagoon itself is also outstanding. With rare for Cyprus turquoise blue water.So clear that you can see every grain of sand on the bottom even when you are swimming 4 meters above it. Frankly speaking, I’ve seen such clear water only when I was in Croatia.
Another great feature: you can jump into the water right from the boat.
On the way back there were served promised “free wine and fruits”. In reality it was a plastic cup with white dry wine (definitely a tetra pack one) and small, less than a quarter, piece of an apple. As they say, enjoy yourself. Anyway this misplaced Scrooge-style service (I’m really curious would they go bankrupt if their guests get at least half of an apple each?) didn’t cloud the impression from the boat trip. Especially since the musician played excellent!
The boat trip there and back took 3 hours. Upon arriving on shore, our group headed straight back home.
To sum up, I might say that the impression of the tour is rather positive. If you remember, the title of the tour was “Akamas Jeep Safari and Sea Ride to the Blue Lagoon”. Well, everything is clear with the Sea Ride, it’s great and wonderful, but I have few questions about “Akamas Jeep Safari”. Akamas is quite big and extremely scenic peninsula-natural reserve. Okay, in fact we visited only Lara Turtle Beach on the whole Akamas and that’s it! Right after that we turned to the other side. I mean it couldn’t count as a safari in Akamas. I might repeat myself but the peninsula is very attractive with a lot of sights.
Of course you can contradict me here and say: “if we were driving further in Akamas we wouldn’t have time for a sea ride”. That’s not true! Firstly, we hang out about half an hour at the Aphrodite’s Rock, which has nothing to do with Akamas. Secondly, we spent unthinkable long time at the restaurant waiting for the ordered food to be served. Taking into account all these facts, I think there was plenty of time for that.
And few words about profitability. Are 70 Euros cheap or expensive for this kind of a trip? If there are at least two of you it is again cheaper to rent buggy or quad (40-60 Euros per day) for a day, drive on Akamas as long as you want and then come to Latchi, where you can take a small ship or yacht (there are plenty of them in the port) and get to the Blue Lagoon for 15-30 Euros. What is more you can even reach the Blue Lagoon by quad, without paying for any boats. But well, it’s more interesting to sail there though.
Okay, as always, everyone decides for themselves what speaks to their heart: ready-made offer or self-planned route including more interesting places for less money.
Quad and Buggy Safari Akamas от SOK Rentals
It was another attempt to finally conquer Akamas. In this case it was a classical route. That means 80% of all trips of this kind you will find goes exactly the same way I will tell you about now.
To be honest, I chose this travel agency rather at random. I saw a SOK Rental labeled convoy of quads and buggies once and contacted them without thinking twice. Besides it’s not that easy to find this company on Internet because it is represented only by a single Facebook page. And even there you can’t find much except the ad paper. There are two options at your choice: 3 and 5 hours trips. They differ one from another only by one location. If you choose buggy trip (I recommend to opt for this one) it will cost you 80 Euros for a short trip and 100 Euros for a long one. An interesting fact: the price stays the same no matter will it be one or two passengers in a buggy.
If you still think about taking a quad then the prices are 55 and 77 Euros for 3 and 5 hours accordingly.
Except the price list there is also a colorful map with marked route on their Facebook page. Later I found out that it’s only around 60% match between drawn route and the real one.
Safari takes place daily. I planned to go on Monday when it’s not so crowded everywhere. The start of our adventure was scheduled at 09:00. I arrived there as always a little bit early. Ready for the trip buggies were already parked near the office of the company. Our guide standing nearby gave me a friendly smile. It was a heavy set Cypriot guy in his mid-thirties with fluent English and “your best mate” appearance. You know that type, easy-going, charming and well-spoken. And despite that not stuffy or too fawning and dull. Well, in short, he gave the impression of being “one of the guys”. The trip proofed I was right.
All the paperwork was done in three minutes. This time everyone got a respirator. Alleluia! However no one checked our driving skills. Well, thanks, they checked the driver licenses at least.
To my delight there occurred to be only two buggies in my group. The guide drove ahead on a quad. It was almost like having a private tour.
I tried to get used to control of my new friend while we were getting out of Pafos.
I should admit I have never driven a buggy before. So I didn’t know what to expect. But everything turned out to be quite easy. If you can drive a car with an automatic gear, you can be sure that you can drive a buggy as well. It’s even simpler because the size is smaller and the visibility is better. The only thing that bugged me (unintentional pan) was side mirrors and no rear-view mirror. Also I spent some time to figure out how to hit the gas in a right way. It had quite much of a character and behaved in its own specific manner. First five minutes I scared away the pedestrians with fierce growling of the engine.
The first detail of the trip that made me happy was the speed. Our guide allowed himself and us a cruise speed — 60 kmph on highway and around 30 kmph on the off-road. What is if I dare to say more than enough to get the feeling of freedom.
The guide, by the way, not only drove at a high speed but also amused us with different miracles of moto-acrobatics like driving on two wheels out of four or drifting close to the abyss. Breathtaking!
We went with the breeze driving a good pavement road and reached our first stop. It’s a tiny bay with caves. But the main sight is not the bay or caves but a wrecked ship.
The ship is called now The Edro III Shipwreck. Back in 2011 it headed from Limassol to Rodos but ended up in the shallow water of Pafos because of the storm. It was too expensive for the owners of the ship to remove it from there, so they just left it as it is.
Local travel agencies realized very quickly that the ship could be a great attraction for the tourists and included it into their trips. So the ship immediately turned into a tourist destination. It looks quite picturesque. You can even come aboard if you wish, no one will drive you away.
In fact it’s a quite simple attraction for a couple of minutes. We took several pictures and kept driving.
The next destination of our trip meant to be “sea caves” but we passed them by without stopping. The guide just lowed the speed so we could shoot some pictures on the move.
The road to the third stop was still paved. It’s St. George Church. What is it famous for? Well, nothing in particularly. Just an ordinary church, in my view.
As a part of preparation for writing an article I always make a lot of research on Internet. And it’s often the case that 9 out of 10 description reviews for every location are some kind of the pains of a graphomaniac. Here is the example of what is written about St. George Church: “the air is marvelously transparent”, “it’s like the church is floating in the sky”, “impossibly blue sea” and “virtually picturesque view”. C’mon guys? It’s. Just. A. Church. Nothing and no one is floating here (we are not in some Stephen King’s novel adaptation), the sea is pretty much “possible” blue and the air, you wouldn’t believe me, is created to be transparent by default. Maximum amount of time you could spend here is 20 minutes — more than enough for the most nerdy and meticulous tourist.
By the way, here is a tiny life hack from an experienced journalist. If you are searching for some cool sights and stumble into “impossible sky”-ish description with “floating churches” it the sure sign that there’s nothing to do there. Because if a sight has a real interesting story in the background or some surprising features you could be 100% sure they will be mentioned in each and every ad you will see. But when it’s the opposite, all these “masterpieces of provincial journalism” and “Look, mom, I’m a blogger” come on stage.
Okay, that was a little bit of my screaming on the inside. Let’s go back to our location. Except the church you will find definitely beautiful landscapethere. From the hill where the church stands, or according to someone’s words “floats”, you can see a bay and a very rare thing for Cyprus — an island!
The place is called Yeronisos and it’s just an average desert island nowadays, but if the legends have some truth in them, there was an Apollo temple on it, in which a lot of religious events were performed. And it’s also sort of place, where (and not only here) Cleopatra went to give in to her love affairs.
While the story still exists, the same cannot be said about the sights. An ordinary island, nothing more, nothing less. Of course some graphomaniacs could argue with me again. Since “the air here is magnetized by desires of the past”.
We gazed at the church about a minute and a half, observed the island for another seven minutes and spent the rest of the time in a local café listening to our wonderful guide trading tales about Cypriot daily chores.
By the way the church and the island are some sort of border marks. It’s generally agreed that here is the place where Akamas peninsula starts. That’s why the rest of our trip went on the off-roads exclusively.
Riding through clouds of dust on the narrow and winding paths marked with short thorny bushes from both sides, our group arrived at the Lara Beach. I already described this place above, when I was talking about my previous trip to Akamas. Just a brief reminder: it’s a picturesque beach the turtles approved for nesting.
We got whole half an hour to discover the location. More than enough time to have plenty of swimming.
And off we go through dust and bad roads again to reach the main sight — a café!
It’s called Turtle Kiosk Café. The total score is 3.7 according to 17 reviews in Google Maps. So there is 90% chance the food leaves much to be desired.
Google was right. I bought a cheeseburger for 5 Euros that was covered with ketchup so you couldn’t be able to feel the taste of anything except the ketchup itself.
At least the interior of the café has cheap but attractive design. And the view to the sea is simply amazing. What is more the location of the café is not on the highway but deep in the wilderness that only a buggy or a SUV could get to. That’s why it’s quiet, peaceful and clean there so you get the feeling of being alone with nature. I would definitely come here again, just to drink some coffee (that was surprisingly good) and enjoy the sunset.
Next, if we would follow the route mentioned in the ad, we supposed to head north to a mysterious place marked as “Akamas”. I didn’t really get what that means because Akamas was literally everywhere around us.
But instead of driving north we suddenly went south — in the direction back to Pafos. What is more — we took right the same road we drove before. While the map, okay, okay, I’m a bore, showed the route back on completely different road!
So the café is the last stop of this 3 hours long trip. There was no one in our group, who bought 3 hours trip, and we went to the next location: Adonis’ Baths. Or it’s actually more correct to write it like “baths” of Adonis. Because it’s just a mountain pond.Beautiful, scenic ordinary pond.
You have to pay 7 Euros for the entrance ticket. The cost of it is not included in the price of safari trip. You will have around 40 minutes for everything. Things you will find inside include: a café, some sort of museum, few sculptures looking like they were made by some freshman student and of course “bath” where you can swim.
The water is perfect and “natural” by the way. I mean that its water comes from a real river and not from pipes. And it’s freezing cold accordingly. One of the branches of an old tree near the pond is growing parallel to the water surface and could be used as a natural bridge while jumping into the pond.
The place is okay, but I question the idea to spend 7 Euros to bath in the pond for 40 minutes. I would recommend, same as in the previous excursion, to opt for 3 hours long trip instead.
We headed right to the office after “bathing”, so the whole trip took not 5 hours as it was promised but 6.
However the general impression is good anyway. The guide was amazing, the route (including off-roads) was marvelous but there are several flaws as well.
1. The places we visited weren’t really the most interesting ones. I understand that Cyprus is not reach on sights, so you can’t be too picky and have to observe what the nature got. But in fact, even if we choose to visit exactly the same area we were at, there is another great place there: Avakas Gorge with water dropping down the moss covered walls. But no one offered us to see it. Probably to save some time.Because it would take half an hour minimum to walk there.
2. Well, again I can’t say we actually “saw” Akamas peninsula. Only one of the locations was on it: the Lara Beach. Ah, right, and the café. Nothing else (despite the fact that the ad route on the map promised quite the opposite).
So, as I might say “the subject (Akamas) is not disclosed”. At all.
And few more words about the profit. It would cost you 95 Euros to rent a buggy for a day if you decide to go with the same number of people in the group. Plus you will pay around 25 Euros for the petrol. That means the price of a guided excursion is almost comparable to the price of the rent. And again I would choose the second option. All the places the guide showed to us you could find yourself without any trouble. The main thing is if you go by yourself you could drive through the whole Akamas. And it’s beautiful everywhere you go or look. But the final decision is yours.
Akamas Safari Sts Motofun
It’s the third and last from my trips to Akamas. This time I finally found a travel agency, which was ready to send all comers wandering around the whole peninsula and not to a couple of well-worn by tourists routes to some boring sights.
But again it was not so easy to find Sts Motofun. They have a website but it’s not really indexed in Google search. I found it by using hashtags search on Facebook.
The company offers three main tours to your taste: 3, 4 and 7 hours long. I chose the third one because only then you will be guided through the whole territory of Akamas.
Also you can choose the type of vehicle: a quad or buggy (two or four-seats). Having learned from the experience of previous trips, I opted for buggy. The price of the trip is 110 Euros. What is quite adequate for 7 hours ride. Compare it to the cheapest option — a quad plus 3 hours long safari for 60 Euros (for one person).
The company has its office in Latchi village. The trip starts at 09:00. I arrived there at 08:45. The office was already open. At the table, drinking frappe and smocking a cigarette, sat my future guide — a Romanian guy. Unfortunately I don’t remember his name, but he is a nice fellow. He speaks English only but not bubbling, so it shouldn’t be a problem to understand everything even if your language knowledge is average. He filled in all the papers for me. Than he stood up and said: “Let’s go, huh?” I was puzzled and asked: “But what about the others? We won’t wait for them?” To which the guide replied that there weren’t any others. I was the only one who booked a tour for that day. What a great news! It’s good that those guys are ready to organize a trip even for one person.
Before the departure the guide handed me three (!) respirators, motorbike glasses and water. Frankly, unbelievable level of service for Cyprus. But the most unexpected things were to come! I got clean and shiny recently washed buggy! I’ve never seen anything like that before! And one more surprise waited for me shortly after that. I found out that a buggy might not sound like a wounded bear. If it’s new and in good technical condition, the sound of the working engine is only a little bit louder than in a car.
We discussed the route. The classic trip includes an hour of swimming in Lara Bay and Blue Lagoon. Neither me nor the guide wanted standing around there for two hours so we agreed to stop by just for “smocking a cigarette” and add few locations to our trip instead. If you are travelling with a big company of friends you could also ask what exactly yourguideis going to show you during the trip. I’m going to repeat myself, but the guide is a good and responsive guy.
We departed at 08:00 sharp. Went through the only village on the territory of Akamas — Neo Chorio without stopping. Actually there aren’t any reasons for stopping there anyway to my view — it’s just an ordinary village. After that we drove through mushroom forests up to the mountain top where we made our first stop. There’s quite good, I would give it a B-, panoramic view. Mountain range of Troodos in the haze to the left and open woodland together with curved line of Akamas seashore to the right.
We were driving on the mountain ridge to the next stop. The road is pretty easy to drive on; it’s breezing and it’s a pastoral everywhere you look. The ride is beautiful and pleasant. There’s no dust so far.
The second stop was in Fasli village. I have already written about it once when I was travelling with Ascot-travel agency. To be honest, I don’t get why this place is so popular among travel agencies. There are literally no sights in it and it would get a C- for the view. Vineyards on both sides of the road. Well, there’s a tap with drinking water but you didn’t come all the way here just for it!
Thanks God, we spent only a couple of minutes there and came down to the sea. The road became more difficult, we passed few farms with vineyards and olive groves, saw goats bouncing on the mountains and the shining surface of the sea in front of us. It was exactly what we tried to reach. The third stop is at the Lara Beach. I mentioned it before. A nice turtle beach.
Then we headed to the main point of the trip — Turtles Kiosk Café. I also told you already that it’s located at the place you could reach only with the specific kind of vehicle. Nice interior design, great coffee, awful burgers.
Those, who live in Cyprus for a long time, know how conditional is the term “opening hours” in this country. Cafes and restaurants open and close according to only Zeus known algorithm. And the Turtle Kiosk is not an exception in this rule, so for some reason it was closed at 11:30 despite its own opening hour at 09:00. Good that there is another restaurant about one hundred meters away from it where we headed instead. The guide took frappe (what else could a guide has in Cyprus?) and I opted for cappuccino. We took a seat at one of the tables and chatted about everything: about life in Romania, in Russia and in Cyprus, hunting, mushrooms and so on. He asked me if I like my cappuccino. I replied that it’s awfully terrible. Suddenly he grabbed my cup and went into the bar with a war face. He was back after 5 minutes and handed me a new cup saying: “I asked them to make another one for you”. Well, new portion of cappuccino was terrible anyway but okay, not awfully terrible as the previous one.
At the end of the break the guide told me that now there is a long road to the northern part of Akamas ahead of us.
It took around one hour to get there. First part of it goes along the seashore with scenic bays and ravines. But the landscape changed after a while and the view was replaced with nothing except short bushes. The rest of the time we drove the path between these plants. The road was quite difficult and that’s why interesting.
The guide shared he doesn’t like this road because it’s ordinary and boring. I can’t agree with him. To my opinion this option suits perfect for those guys who want to have enough of driving. Other safari trips sin by a lot of stops for observing some strange “sights” but here is your chance for having a field day. Especially when the road demands some driving skills. Few times I didn’t even believe that we can “drive through” those places. But my buggy did it easily and naturally whether it was boulders, steep rises, sand, bumps or sharp ridges. I didn’t even low the speed. I had a great time.
The next stop is Pyrgos ruins. This location is not included into classical 7 hours long trip but it’s available if you take 3 hours long one. “Ruins” is a strong word because everything that is left nowadays is a remains of a church. But that’s not the point. Close to the abandoned Pyrgos there is a mountain with freakily great view from its top. You can see the whole northern part of Akamas including famous Blue Lagoon while standing there. No doubt it’s one of the best views in Cyprus.
We took a cigarette break. I asked my guide if you could reach the Blue Lagoon by car. He replied that it’s possible and some people do that but not without accidents from time to time. As an example, last year a family from Russia fell off a cliff, no one survived. So the talk turned to other accidents that could happen and the guide explained that you could get a new buggy on a safari trip only; the companies usually offer old vehicles to those, who rent it for traveling by yourself that’s why different crashes and accidents occur literally every week. The most expensive one was quite recently. Some Brits broke the gearbox of four-seat buggy and paid all the way to 3000 Euros for it.
We spent around 15 minutes on that mountain and went down to the final destination of our trip: that very same Blue lagoon.
Usually it’s as crowded here as in a waterpark. The bay is incredibly beautiful and wildly popular. However we were there alone at that day because of the storm. I managed to take a bunch of good pictures.
Next 40 minutes took that same road where the tourists fell into the abyss. Well, buggy covers this distance effortlessly, but how someone could get there driving a car — was still beyond me.
We were already at the office in the afternoon. Said goodbye to each other and parted ways.
To sum up, I would say that I liked this safari trip. 7 hours long journey is for those, who want driving long distances surrounded by wild nature and dust clouds. And have a lot of swimming at the most beautiful beaches of Akamas. But if you’d better choose to see different places, 3 hours tour is your choice. The most interesting locations are concentrated in it (including Pyrgos ruins and the Blue Lagoon). And 4 hours long trip didn’t impress me at all. Neither fish nor fowl. The number of locations is very limited (no Pyrgos ruins and Blue Lagoon) and 4 hours are not enough to have a good time driving.
Safari Village Tour with TT Motorcycle Rentals & Tours Paphos
The website of the company offers quite wide variety of trips. Five whole safari tours. But all of them are average. Only 3 hours long trip differs by unique route. That’s exactly what I chose.
Village tour is very expensive: 85 Euros for a quad and 140 Euros for a buggy. It’s the most expensive offer I’ve met. Especially surprising that this cost could be found not at some place in promoted touristic Ayia Napa but in pretty cheap and quiet Pafos. Okay. Let’s find out what kind of cool experience we could get for 140 Euros.
As always, I came a little bit early to the pickup point.The place was a small unpaved parking lot. Tacky trailer in the corner is the office of TT Motorcycle Rentals & Tours Paphos. The other “furnishing” was represented by few chairs near the trailer and broken vehicles. No WC by the way (or it’s everywhere around here, judging by the whole decor).
I was “welcomed” by frowning and slightly nervous middle-aged Cypriot. I actually couldn’t tell whether he is an owner or just in charge for everything. But he is also a guide.
Instead of greeting he instantly began to complain that he doesn’t like tourists, how badly they damage the vehicles, that they bring a lot of trouble, so he is unhappy and tired.
I use the word “grunt” for such kind of people. They are grumps, for which every word and every move is wrong. Okay, I don’t mind it, everyone decides for themselves how they want to live, but anyway I’m not sure that this character trait is perfect for a guide occupation.
We filled in the papers, the guide gave me a water bottle and an old shabby helmet without “ear covers” and pointed at a quad parked nearby. That’s mine.
The quad had a powerful engine but was old, dirty, had a lot of scratches and some trash in the trunk. All right. I’m used to it. However for the price I paid (I couldn’t get it out of my head) they could have at least wash the poor vehicle.
Other participants of our trip arrived in the next 20 minutes: a young couple from London, well-dressed Polish guy and an old punk of unclear origin in a leather jacket. The guide repeated his monologue about his dislike for tourists to the new audience. Then he asked if we like high speed. Everyone agreed they like it. To which he replied angrily: “There’s no way you would do that! You’re not on a rally here, it’s a safari! If I see someone drives like crazy, I’ll take the keys off you!”
We quickly started nodding in agreement assuring him we will be quiet and well-behaved. The guide looked at us suspiciously, fixed his eyes on the Polish guy and repeated to him once again that there will be no rally here and informed us that we departure right now.
Turned out, it will be a rally after all. I’ve never experienced a safari trip with this level of speed and extreme before. Safari with a quiet and peaceful name “Village tour” was in fact a crazy racing through gullies and dumps.
The off-road itself was not difficult. Well, yeah, it consisted mainly of potholes, pits and bumps. It’s just a joke to a quad. But not when you are driving 50 kmph! And that was, by the way, the first time I had not kept pace with our guide.
When you power on to the pits and cracks on the road and have a deep abyss instead of side road — the feelings you get at this moment are indescribable. The most dangerous thing is the rut. Especially when you get in it with one wheel you’d better hold on tight the steering wheel. If you not react fast, everything could end not as planned.
Okay, let’s go back and see everything in a chronological order. First stop: Mandria Beach. It’s quite an ordinary place. The views are neither breathtaking, nor ugly. The main advantage of this beach is a stable small amount of tourists and campers.
Second stop: a dam at the Asprokremmos Reservoir. To be honest, the view from the dam isn’t even slightly impressive. Maximum 3 minutes for turning around and keep driving. Which we did.
And here is where the Village Tour begins. Our group drove through several villages at once. But there was no way to have some “sightseeing” in them. The speed was so high that I didn’t dare to be distracted by local beautiful sceneries, just because I want to live.
And the final destination of the tour — the mountain village Episkopi (do not confuse it with Episkopi village in surroundings of Limassol).
It’s actually an interesting place. The history of the village has its roots in XII century. The old church, as old as the village itself, is still intact. What is more it’s the location of the biggest monolith of the island — 70 meter high steep cliff that adds a Switzerland-ish vibe to the place.
And last but not least reason why the village is so popular: St. Hilarion the Great once lived here. The modern church of the village is named after him.
Our guide didn’t let us admire the cliff and the church for a long time and lead us straight to a café. We drank traditional Cyprus coffee for free, chatted a little bit with each other and turned to way back.
I feel separate when I think about the general impression of the trip. From the one hand it’s no doubt that the tour is unique, no one offers something similar in Cyprus. Episkopi village is lovely. What is more, the extreme driving is exactly what the tourists want and expect (and don’t really get as a rule). On the other hand there’s no apparent justification for the high price and the personality of the guide is ambiguous. Also the trip has nothing to do with a real Village tour in the long run.
Probably, safari tour offered by TT Motorcycle Rentals & Tours Paphos is more suitable for those, who already have experience in travelling through the island. If you try this kind of activity for the first time, it’s way cheaper, easier and more interesting to take one of the trips to Akamas.
That’s basically it for the west part of Cyprus,I couldn’t find any more original or interesting offers. We will explore south and east parts of the island in our next articles. Stay tuned!