I’ve had a bit of a break from blogging, as we spent the half-term holidays on the wonderful island of Cyprus. It was an incredible holiday, full of the most amazing plants and wildlife.
Just acknowledging that we’ve all wrote this blog – after all, a family holiday, deserves a family blog!
We stayed near the Akamas Peninsula, with the most stunning coastlines, unspoilt landscapes, unique flora and fauna and a rich historic and cultural heritage.
The plant life is so diverse and spectacular that many of the species are protected. There were cacti twice the height and width of me and stunning succulents, worthy of an RHS Show Garden. Each night on our evening walk the sweet smell of jasmine led the way, whilst we were serenaded by the churring cicadas. I had a bit of plant envy with what people grow in their gardens, with a purple bounty of bougainvillea, huge cannas and beautiful bird of paradise flowers.
Me and my Dad went for a really big walk around the Akamas Peninsula, where the atmosphere was hot, dry and arid, like being in the desert. It gave you that feeling that there was something really special around each corner. It was a big physical challenge, as the climb was 1000+ ft, with a really steep bit towards the end and the summit was really flat and dry.
My Mum stayed at the base of the mountain and visited the Baths of Aphrodite and Botanical gardens, where she came across the Akamas Beach, which became a holiday favourite.
The walk hugged the coastline initially, which gave us great views of the turquoise sea and then we climbed up, zig zagging back and to. The higher we got it revealed more and more wonderful views of the whole of the bay. We were a bit unsure of the route to be honest, but we managed to work it out.
Dad and I had done our research, so we knew we were in for a treat……
- Kingfishers – we had a great view of one at Latchi harbour as it flew back and to amongst the boats and then at Akamas beach, we saw one flying out to the rocks. They are quite common in Cyprus apparently, you get them all along the coastline
- Sardinian warbler – pretty little warblers with a black head, white cheek and grey body – a new species to me
- Blue rock thrush – we knew they were in the area, they are blue tinged, with a thrush like shape
- Little egrets although quite common in Britain now, they are a Mediterranean bird
- Herons in vast flocks
- Some type of falcon – could have been an Eleanora’s, red footed or peregrine – not sure on the ID
- (possibly a) chukar, which is a gamebird in the pheasant family
- A black franklin – near the apartments; they are quite endangered in Cyprus ‘cos of game hunting
- Crested lark
- Hooded crow – whilst we’ve seen them in The Highlands, this could have possibly been an Asian sub-species
I like swimming in the sea, but I have to admit I’m a bit scared of deep water. But it’s good to challenge yourself, so my Mum swam next to me and we went proper snorkelling. At first we swam to a break water at Latchi beach, where we saw some needlefish; they are a long milky white fish, believed to be a dangerous species if provoked, they can go at very high speeds and use their nose as a javelin.
Further along the coast at Akamas, I felt like I was snorkelling in an aquarium, it was spectacular, with shoals of tropical coloured fish of all shapes, sizes and patterns – I was blown away. I think I saw a baby cuttlefish swimming on the surface, but if you know what that could have been please tell us.
I do feel the need to highlight the plastic problem we are all becoming more aware of. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of plastic straws, bottles, bottle tops and other rubbish that I collected and put in the bin. I made sure on each visit to the beach that I did a #2minutebeachclean
Mum was snorkelling one day and saw a floating plastic bag and could see how they are mistaken for jellyfish. She squashed it down in her hand to take back to shore and the sea said ‘thank you’, by rewarding her with a splendid view of a sea cucumber.
We saw an absolute abundance of insects; there was hawkmoths, a praying mantis that nearly fell into Dad’s breakfast yogurt and another that fell in the pool – they are amazing beasts. A cicada, which you don’t usually see, you usually just hear their loud churring, a really big millipdede, a beetle, big crickets/grasshoppers. Lots of beautiful butterflies, including a clouded yellow, a swallowtail and quite a big group of monarchs in the same area
Wow there were some really cool lizards, especially the big bearded dragons, they are really exotic. I mean you do get lizards in the UK, you just don’t see them in the same numbers and size that you do in Cyprus.
We didn’t see that many mammals really, though we had great views of some big bats and (maybe) wild goats climbing on the rocky bit of the Akamas coastline.
Our rescue dog, Buddy, came from Cyprus, so we expected to see loads of homeless dogs, but the big problem seems to be with cats; they were everywhere. This one took a particular shine to me and I was quite fond of him too. He jumped right on my knee and seemed rather happy, purring away!
Fruit and veg
On the walk to the beach the air was thick with sensational smells, such as, jasmine, rosemary and oregano. We passed rows and rows of citrus trees. laden with pomelos, grapefruits, limes, lemons and mandarins. We sampled them as they were for sale at the side of the road and given out at the end of a restaurant meal. Our apartments were surrounded by the most beautiful planting, where I had my first glimpse of a pomegranate tree and views of bananas growing out of the bedroom window!
It was a traditional, small working town where we stayed and you could tell agriculture still played an important part. It was really quiet and residents were busy bringing in their crops. We saw butternut squash drying out, olives being harvested and aubergines growing in small plots.
We visited the Herb Garden Restaurant where the heady smells of basil made our mouths water. How wonderful to watch the chef nip in to the garden and harvest huge bunches of basil, grapefruits and rosemary. Later, sampling traditional dishes, where some simple grilled veg drizzled in basil oil, became the star of the show – sublime!
Holidays like this make you feel great, the little routines you do, all the exercise you get, scenery that takes your breath away, swimming in the sea, walking everywhere, great, local food, it just makes you feel alive and gives you good vibes!
Back to reality
I’ve had to get my head down at school since my return, as it’s been really full on – straight back to tests, assessments and homework – I have to admit to staring out of the window at times, dreaming of water as deep as forever!