In the very west of Cyprus, in the southern part of the Akamas Peninsula you can find the islamnd's most impressive canyon: Akamas Gorge. While it doesn't compare to the great canyons of the Mediterrenean like Restonica on Corsica, Samaria on Crete or Gorrupu on Sardinia it has a little bit of everythingbut - on a smaller scale. The Avakas Gorge is about 5km long and carved out of the surrounding chalk and limestone down to about 100m. In its narrowest passages you can almost touch both walls with your hands and in its most scenic location a big chockstone is wedged between the walls high above. While the Akamas Peninsula is absolutely dry for most of the year in the little canyon you'll find running water all year round, indicating the forces that created the gorge in the first place.
Avakas Gorge might seem like a logical destination on a hot day but take care: though in permanent shade the narrow sections still heat up considerably and the humidity of the creek inside will raise the humidity levels. We found the athmosphere stifling (yes we hiked the gorge on a hot day in May), especially where the omnipresent goats and pigeons left their droppings. Moreover, the upper part of the canyon is rather open and exposed to sun and weather.
The gorge entry, hidden between fruit plantations, is still rather wide. Everywhere you will find Oleander bushes marking the pools and puddles left from the creek which runs through the canyon. While the gorge narrows down to about 5m the walls rise up, often leaving little trace of the sunlight. Here you'll find droves of pidgeons nesting high up on the walls and leaving their traces right down to the canyon floor, where larbe boulders often block the way. After about 2km the gorge opens, the walls retreat but get higher and the sunlight offers more spots where vegetation can grow. You often have to fight your way through the oleander bushes, while negotiating the boulders on the ground. Goats take over from the pidgeons with similar results on the ground. In this section the canyon is some 300m wide.
In the topmost part the walls retreat further leaving only a slightly pronounced creek bed. Orientation gets more and more difficult since it gets hard to distinguish the main bed from the ones of tht tributaries. There is a goat farm with a plantation of huge olive trees, which marks the end of the canyon. There are two possible return paths - the one through the gorge and a dirt road coming down from Pano Arodes and accompanying the canyon above the walls to its north.
- Take motorway A6 westward to its end near Pafos
- Take E709 towards Pegeia.
- Switch to the road to Agios Georgios.
- Follow the signs to Akamas Peninsula
- After the tar ends head onwards for 1km to the locality Toxeftra, where you can park your car near the bed of the Avakas Creek.
There's no red tape here. The ground at both entry points to the gorge is privately owned so take care not to disturb anybody.
AccommodationAccommodation of all kinds is easy to find along the coasts of the island. You can book hotels and apartments from any travel office. Moreover, a lot of British expatriates are living on the island part time. You can get lucky to book one of their winter homes in summer.
The closest accommodation can be found in Polis in the north of the Akamas Peninsula or in or around Pafos. Agios Georgios also has hotels and holiday homes on offer. Also, there are campgrounds along the coast.
Since this is a canyon, conditions can change quickly. Usually the Akamas Peninsula is as dry as it can be but in spring you can find high water levels inside the gorge. After ur during rainfall it can get dangerous, less because of rush floods but because of rockfall. Don't venture into the gorge in these conditions.
Maps & Books
I must admit that I didn't find any decent maps of the island, maybe caused by the military nervousness mentioned above. I have used the following street map:
- Cyprus / Chipre / Zypern
Freytag & Berndt
Here the situation is different. An excellent guidebook is available from Rother Verlag, both in German and English. It covers the whole island in 50 daytours.
- Zypern (Süd & Nord) / Cyprus (South & North)
Rother Wanderführer / Rother Walking Guide
ISBN (German): 978-3-7633-4271-6
ISBN (English): 978-3-7633-4814-5