Although the summit of Mount Olympus is covered in a huge military radar installation and is well supplied with roads (and tourists), it is still possible to find an attractive and not too busy route to the (permitted) high point. This route starts near the village of Pano Platres and also fulfils the criteria of minimum 600m ascent that some people use when climbing Ultra prominent mountains
Getting ThereThe village of Pano Platres is accessible by reasonable roads leading into the interior of Cyprus from the main resorts located on the West and South coasts. If coming from that direction you will either be on the B8 or the F825 and it is near the junction of these roads that you want to start. The easiest way to find this point is to get to Pano Platres and take the road going uphill out of the village. Just a few corners later you cross an obvious stream and see a dirt parking area on the uphill (left) side. This is marked Psilon Dendron trout farm and there is room for about 10 cars if parked carefully.
Start from the small parking space by the trout farm at Psilon Dendron (altitude 1200m approx.). You are looking for the trail “Kaledonia” as advertised in the tourist board walking leaflet. The path begins as a concrete road (keep left when approaching the restaurant) but quickly turns into an attractive footpath. The footpath frequently crosses the stream (possible problem if it is in rare spate condition) and brings you to the Kaledonia waterfall in under an hour. Continue on the streamside path for a further hour or so and you arrive at the top end of the Kaledonia trail (1650m altitude, 5km from the start).
As you reach the metalled road, turn right and follow the hairpin bends of the old Troodos road upwards (closed to public traffic). Just after the old road rejoins the new, you will see the visitor centre and Dolphin restaurant on the W side of the road. It is worth a brief stop to see the presentations on local history, geology and wildlife. The right branch of the concrete path on the left side of the visitor centre leads in a few minutes to the village of Troodos with refreshments and tacky souvenir stands in abundance. Take the left branch to emerge near the junction for the E910 Podromos road at the north end of the village. If coming from the village a wooden boardwalk leads in the same direction.
Turn left onto the Podromos road. Here you have a choice. It is simple to walk along the relatively quiet road for 1km to the turnoff for Olympus, and from there the road winds up to the green corrugated iron shack of the Troodos ski club and café. About halfway between the road junction and the ski hut, there is a short diversion to a giant black pine tree (marked Giant Pinus Nigra). Alternatively, those wishing to avoid the road walk will find it easy to follow the line of the stream bed upwards from the visitor centre, keeping parallel, but south of, the Podromos road. There is no path but the ground is not too rough and you will emerge more or less right at the aforementioned giant pine, from where you can pick up the route again. The one thing in favour of using the road is that the lack of trees at certain points allows good views which are not visible from the stream bed route.
About 150m past the ski centre hut, take the obvious piste / 4WD track on the right. This leads directly to the back gate of the summit compound, a couple of metres below the true summit (1951m), on which sits a massive radar golf ball. A barbed wire fence denies access to the very top and although you can get your head approximately level with the true summit by climbing to the top of the gate, this is clearly not recommended.. (ahem!). The views to the north and east are fine fom here but you’ll need to come in midwinter (and be lucky with the haze) to be able to see much beyond the next ridges of hills.
A loop can be made by continuing on the dirt track left of the fence which rejoins the road next to the main gatehouse of the military compound. From there you get better views to the South and West but can also see the environmental damage caused by the extensive installations. Turn left and go back down the road to the ski centre to rejoin the uphill route.
Return by the same route or swap to trainers and jog easily back down the road to Platres. An occasional bus service allegedly connects Troodos with Platres but should not be relied on (it was not in operation while we were there).
Total (one way) 10km, 750m of ascent. Approx 3-4 hours.
Essential GearThis is an easy hike on good trails, good shoes or trainers are fine throughout most of the year. In the winter there can be snow between December and (exceptionally) April so more robust footwear is required at that time. In midsummer it can be very hot although much of the route is shaded by attractive forest.
External LinksThe tourist offices in Paphos and other main resorts will supply a double sided 1:60000 scale map with Troodos area west on one side and east on the other.
The website www.islandwalking.com hosts descriptions of 12 walks in Cyprus by Chris Thompson. A part of the above route is described in “Walk 1”.