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The Pafos State Forest March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos, Nature.
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The Pafos State Forest occupies mainly the north-western slopes of the Troodos Range and covers an area of 700k square metres and extends from the districts of Limassol and Nicosia and Pafos at sea level – to the north it reaches up to the villages of Pomos, Kato Pyrgos tis Tillyrias and the occupied village of Varisia. To the east it extends up to the villages of Gerakies, Lemythou etc and to the west up to the villages of Lysos, Kinousa, Argaka and Gialia.

Flora > The Pafos Forest is mostly a natural forest, regenerating itself and the most dominant species found all over the area is the Brutia Pine (Pinus Brutia) – the common wild pine. Smaller trees and shrubs occupy specific biotopes of the forest ecosystem.

The riverine vegetation, which can be found at all elevations includes mainly broadleaves such as the plane-tree (Platanus Orientalis) the alnus tree (Alnus Orientalis), the laurel (Laurus Nobilis) the myrtle (Myrtus Communist) and the bramble (Rubus Sanctus), giving the vegetation a unique combination of colours. In the lowland, high trees become sparse and the small shrubs as well mossy and grassy plants, make up a very rich and dense vegetation of high ecological and aesthetical value.

A special place in the Flora of Pafos Forest is held by the Cyprus cedar (Cedrus Brevifolia). It is the only endemic tree of the Cyprus forests and forms the unique natural forest of the Tipylos slopes and the world famous Cedar Valley.

14-03-08_cyprus_cedar.jpg  The Cyprus Cedar grows and forms pure and mixed strands with the wild pine at 600m up to 1,352m altitude. The presence of the Cyprus Cedar gives a distinct and unique character to the forest ecosystem.

In 1984 the Council of Ministers declared the Tripylos and the Cedar Valley area covering 823 hectares a Nature Reserve for the protection of the flora and fauna according to the provisions of the Forest Law.

The number of different plant species found in the Pafos Forest has been estimated to exceed 600. 50 of these are endemic to Cyprus. The existence of a large number of orchids such as Limodorum Abortivum, Orchis Sancta, Ophrys Levantina and Serapias Vomeracea are found only in Pafos Forest.

14-03-08_cyprus_moufflon.jpg  Fauna > The Pafos Forest was declared a Permanent Game Reserve in 1938 and since then it constitutes a perfect shelter for wildlife. The Cyprus Moufflon the largest endemic mammal of the island lives and reproduces in special biotopes of the Pafos forest. The presence of the fox, hare, hedgehog, rare and protected eagles and other birds, many species of the owl, partridge, wood-pigeon, turtle doves along with different species of snakes and lizards and rare butterflies compose a rich fauna of immense ecological value and importance for Cyprus.

Courtesy of the Pafos Forestry Department, Pafos, Cyprus.

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Back to nature at the Natura Beach Hotel & Villas September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos, Hotels Cyprus.
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For those who like the quiet life or like to be close to nature, it is hard to beat the Natura Beach Hotel in Latsi.

Latsi and the Akamas nature reserve area had always been a favourite destination for our holidays, so we decided to check out the accommodation available in Polis and nearby Latsi. Once an important Kingdom, the area now offers a unique combination of sandy beaches, stunning countryside and some nightlife. The mild climate guarantees an abundance of wealth in flora and fauna specimens and wildlife. Our chosen destination was Natura Beach Hotel and Villas, on a beautiful bay at the edge of the Akamas.

The hotel’s understated buildings and the fact that the entire complex is hidden in lush vegetation, mainly citrus trees, makes it hard to spot from the road. The row of five villas is only a stone’s throw away from the main building and other facilities the hotel offers. The self contained three-bedroom villa that was going to be our home for the next days had stunning views of the bay and low profile hotel buildings on one side and the orchards on the other.

The bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, were rather spacious. Each villa has a lounge and dining room, well equipped kitchenette, air-conditioning and heating in all rooms, satellite TV and radio, direct-dial telephone, a safe deposit box, and a private car-park. The cherry on the top was the 4x8m private pool. The secluded garden offered privacy.

The row of golden crest that mingled with the banana tree laden with fruit and sky reaching cypress trees provided a natural barrier between the villas. The neighbouring orchard on one side and a strip of olive groves on the other safeguarded the privacy needed to bathers from prying eyes. Huge rosebushes with delicate rosebuds provided the scented material and touch of home as swiftly they were cut and placed in a makeshift vase. Nature lovers will appreciate the early morning calls from roosters and the chirping of lively birds and other sounds not associated with city noises.

The hotel’s policy is based on a water and energy saving concept. All waste water is treated in a sophisticated biological station and then used to water the lawns. Solar panels are used for heating the water in the villas. All lights and air-conditioning in the bedrooms will go off when the key holder is removed from the slot thus avoiding the waste of energy while the guests are away. The air-conditioning will also go off if the balcony glass doors are not well shut.

The hotel’s small room capacity, 60 twin and double bedrooms in the main building and garden wings, reinforces their policy of respecting the environment. Discreet outdoor lighting and hardly any high pitched sounds in terms of hotel animation programmes safeguard the ecosystem. The lawn leading to the beach is higher than sea level and after a gradual descent via the paved path you encounter the protected turtle nests and an abundance of multicoloured pebbles. The long stretch of sandy beach that runs along the hotel’s beachfront has no sign of any umbrellas or beach beds.

Most of the beach is scattered with turtle nests and humans are the intruders here. On our daily, pre-breakfast swim in the sea, we would check up on some of the nests and try to decipher the footprints leading to them. On one such occasion, a bird predator’s footprints were well spotted and if it wasn’t for the metal protection strategically placed over the nest, the future of the turtle eggs would be uncertain. The turtle nests are monitored by a local conservation centre but also by hotel staff.

The garden, lit only by a couple of low lights leading to the beach reinforces the hotel’s policy of providing guests, tourists or otherwise, with relaxing and serene surroundings in complete harmony with nature. For those seeking a more active itinerary there are tennis, basketball and volleyball courts. The hotel’s mini gym is adequately equipped for a workout and for those enjoying a challenge, there are mountain bikes for rental. The hilly landscape is ideal for a strenuous ride or walk. For a gentler walk or jog, the very long stretch of sandy beach that leads to Polis camping site and to Latsi harbour is a good option.

As a holiday retreat, the hotel, and the villas in particular, is an ideal base for nature
lovers and bird watching enthusiasts. The nature trails of Akamas are very near and depending on the season, the hotel organises guided walks to the area. Polis’ open-air cafes and the more active nightlife of Latsi offer a choice of entertainment.

Natura Beach Hotel and Villas, POBox 66162, Polis, Paphos. Tel 26 323111, Fax 26 322822, email natura@cytanet.com.cy 

For more information > http://www.natura.com.cy

Cyprus rural tourism event set for Paphos Castle on Saturday September 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Cyprus Paphos, Tourism.
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Efforts are underway to establish Cyprus on the international tourist map as a destination offering a wealth of unique experiences beyond the traditional ‘sun, sand and sea’.

Within the framework of its “Rural Tourism Promotion Plan”, 50% funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is planning a series of events in Cyprus and abroad to promote the many unique charms of rural Cyprus, such as natural attractions, local culture, traditional gastronomy and, of course, the legendary Cypriot hospitality.

A major CTO event offering a real taste of rural Cyprus will take place outside the medieval castle at Paphos harbour this Saturday, September 8. The event is an opportunity for visitors and local residents alike to have a good time and discover a few of the secrets of the countryside.

From 4pm to 10pm, everyone is invited to come along to the traditional village square being created for the event at Pafos’ beautiful harbour. It’s a chance for an evening in the country without leaving town with a variety of rural activities recreated on the coast, including traditional foods, wine tasting, traditional sweets such as loukmades, rural crafts and much, much more.

Related Links > http://www.visitcyprus.org.cy

Lysos > the village that moved to the new world August 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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Driving through the village on a cold winter’s evening, you’d think you’d entered Ghost Town. Houses are locked up, nothing but street lights can be seen and if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of an old man walking back home after a nightcap at the coffee shop.

Lysos is a village of barely 150 residents, mostly elderly, but once the weather starts warming up, people with various family connections from all over the world return home, especially during August when the population can increase to almost 1,000.

The village is located about 36km north-east of Paphos. In terms of territory, it’s the largest in the Paphos district, but still remains one of many with very few residents.

“The village went through a constant increase of its population until 1946,” says Christakis Iosif, community leader. “In 1881, there were 287 inhabitants, increasing to 659 in 1946, but then the village was struck by the urban pull and migration resulting in Lysos’ population decreasing to 373 in 1976 and by 2001, to 158.”

Many, of course, left in the hope of finding a better life and job in Paphos town, but it was Australia and South Africa that drew away most of the village’s inhabitants. In fact, the number of people originating from Lysos but residing in South Africa is alarming.

“There are 5,000 living there right now and most of them make up the increased population in the summer,” says Iosif.

The village is built at an average altitude of 560 metres and has a range of 9,526 hectares. It is a beautiful village with small roads, a big square with a fountain constructed in 1900 made out of local stone and three churches, all extremely old but well-maintained.

The same applies to most houses. “Ever since expatriates started coming back to the island for their holidays, the village has changed,” says Christakis. “All make an effort to fix up their grandfather’s or father’s home, so the village looks not modern at all but in fact tidy and the way a community with a lot of history should look.”

Andreas Antoniou, who spends most of his holidays in Lysos with his family explains: “I inherited my father’s house, in which he was born in 1912. He lived here with his 15 brothers and sisters, but left in 1934.”

The house covers a 60m² area, but unfortunately had to be knocked down since it wasn’t steady enough to shelter Andreas and his family. He has since built a new one and enjoys the quiet village along with his relatives, who he sees every summer.

“Most of my relatives live in South Africa, but they’ve all renovated their parents’ or grandparents’ homes and return to the village two and three times a year.”

White knuckle water ride in Paphos August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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Hold onto more than your hats for a fast paced, adrenalin pumping ride on the water

Imagine the bounciest bouncy castle or a bucking bronco that rears into the air partnered with a level of speed that makes the fillings in your teeth quiver – welcome to the latest adrenalin soaked water experience currently on offer.

Tiger Boats is a British owned operation that promises (and certainly delivers) a white-knuckle experience second to none, using two fully-licensed, rigid, inflatable boats that are currently the fastest mode of water transport on offer for thrill seekers.

Powered by a 450 twin 6cc 225 horsepower Yamaha engine these 8.5 m long boats have been specially adapted to indulge the inner speed freak of 14 passengers. Before you swing your leg over the long, rigid saddle that extends from prow to bow and strap your feet into the safety harnesses, you are given a short, but rather blunt safety talk. Skipper Russ Blondfield didn’t mince his words as he told us the speeds we would be traveling at then explained it was important not to stand ram rod straight or the G force could damage our lower backs. We should always try to relax the top half of our bodies, to bend the knees slightly at all times and use only thigh/calf muscles as shock absorbers and to bend in and out of corners just like on a motorbike.

There was one moment when I thought I might just chicken out, when Russ said “We will also try and get some air under the boat”. In my innocence I inquired exactly what that meant, only to be told by a snotty 15-year-old standing next to me on his fifth ride in five days, that’s when he goes full out with the throttle and the boat lifts right out of the water.

Holding fast to my life jacket, I nervously boarded. You have to be quite agile to swing your leg over the ‘saddle’, but trying to do this within such a confined space only marks those who have either had ballet training or are under the age of 12. The now smirking youth forced me to contort stiff limbs into position, and we were off. Gripping the safety handles on each side of the saddle offered some comfort as we sedately eased out of the harbour for a short ‘nursery’ run to see how we liked it.

The engine whirrs like it’s about to explode as you thunder across the waves, pounding the breakers, while nothing prepares you for being on the receiving end of an instant face lift while rocketing along the shore line with hotels passing by in a blur of concrete. The G-force had my three chins traveling sideways and my ears felt as if they had been pinned to the back of my neck. So much for the ‘nursery’ ride. When asked if we now all felt okay to go for ‘the burn’, I could only manage a strangled whimper. Within two seconds we were off again.

These boats can push out enough water per second on a speed run to fill the average swimming pool in under a minute, but, the inflatable collar that surrounds the boat means no danger comes from water being shipped aboard. Comforting though that may be, the 270? spins and the hydroplaning effect make this a really wild ride, and the great thing is you don’t feel sick, because your brain is far too occupied with holding on. Our party was soon baying for more.

Getting a bit of air under the boat means exactly that, you rocket along and then ‘whoosh’ the prow is out of the water and what follows is the water equivalent of a rollercoaster ride, ending with the ‘thump’ of an extreme vertical impact as the boat hits the water again.

This activity may not be ideal for the weakly constituted, but being aboard a projectile traveling at alarming speeds does deliver an almighty, glorious and much-needed high octane rush to the adrenalin flow. I staggered off the boat having lost 75 per cent of my IQ, legs shaking, fingers still in the hold on tight formation vowing I would just have to repeat the experience; I had at long last found my speed fix.

These rally cars of the sea may have a huge commercial fan base, but it’s not just from hardcore thrill fans seeking new kicks, they are used in a more serious manner by rescue services, law enforcement agencies and the military because of their speed, sturdiness and unique maneuverability.

According to skipper Russ’ business partner Nick Bilton, without paying customers on board the boats can reach speeds “way, way over what we currently offer to clients. You need to be accustomed to being on the boat at really high speeds so we stick to a medium speed line when dealing with clients – we don’t want to terrify them. We aim to thrill, offer fun, not danger but we both took one out one day and went from the harbour to Yeroskipou beach in 1.40 seconds, so that’s pretty quick”.

Tiger Boats > Tel: 99 665753 (Louise Bilton), Paphos Harbour. Price: £15 for adults, £12 for children (under 16s have to have an adult sign a permission slip for them to board and if younger than 12 they should be accompanied by an adult). Tiger Boats also offer a less adrenalin pounding coastal tour for 1.5 hours for £22.

Golfing in Cyprus July 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos, Golf.
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Cyprus golf property is possibly by far and away the best investment you could make if you are in fact considering purchasing property on this beautiful island.

There is no doubt at all that if you mix golf, sun and holidays you have the ideal cocktail for a booming property market. Whether you are looking to purchase for your own use or the fast expanding holiday rental market the sums will stack up every time. In fact a great way to subsidize your Cyprus property investment is to rent out to holiday makers when you don’t need it for yourself or your family.

The golfing center of Cyprus is the Paphos area and with several excellent golf courses in the area there is plenty for everyone to enjoy. Property prices in the Paphos area are amongst some of the highest in Cyprus due in the most part to the town now being recognized as an all year resort. This coupled with the golfing aspect of the area has turned Paphos into something of a Cyprus property hotspot. However prices here have not yet reached the dizzy heights of places like Spain or Portugal where you will soon need a kings ransom just to buy a one bed apartment. Prices will conceivably continue to rise however for some time to come making Paphos a good investment if you buy soon.

With great motorway links and the airport on your doorstep Paphos is a golf property dream come true. There are plenty of properties available and new developments are going up all over the area. If you want the best of both golf and holidays an investment in the Coral Bay area a few kilometers outside Paphos could be perfect for you. With miles of sandy beaches bars and restaurants Coral Bay is popular with every kind of Cyprus holiday maker. You would be a short drive from the golf and have a property that rents easily to holiday makers too.

Before you dash off however to book your Cyprus flights there is some hot news for golfers looking for a great property investment. Rumor is rife of a huge proposed golfing and leisure development being proposed in the Larnaca area of Cyprus. If you though that Paphos was a hot bed for investment then Larnaca could be a golfers dream come true. Larnaca is more than just a holiday resort it is a bustling town in its own right. There is a commercial port, a busy marina and a vibrant business community too with more shops and resturants than you can shake a stick at. The main airport is within a hole in one’s distance and the modern coastal motorway will whisk you to anywhere in Cyprus you choose to visit within a couple of hours maximum.

What more could you want? Everything right on your door step including sun, sea and golf. No development has started as yet in the area of the proposed golf complex so property prices in Larnaca are still quite reasonable compared with other parts of Cyprus. There is no doubt that once the plans are cleared and development begins property prices will go through the roof. So if you love golf and Cyprus you may be able to pick up the bargain of a lifetime if you are brave enough to act soon. Enjoy Cyprus!

To find out more about the beautiful island of Cyprus visit > http://www.visitcyprus.com

Bump and grind > quad bikes around Akamas July 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos, Racing & Motors.
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For the thrill seeker, quad bikes provide an adrenaline rush but are also safe when handled properly. Now available in Cyprus for safaris give them a go!

Think of quad bikes and images of, probably, men racing round the muddy countryside usually spring to mind. The bikes themselves were actually designed to be used as farm vehicles, and indeed still are, although in Europe and America they are now far more likely to be used as a means to celebrate stag nights or for an alternative means of transport for a safari.

In Cyprus too the trend is catching on and quadding safaris are now available in various parts of the island. The 400cc Bombardier Outlander automatic is reckoned to be one of the easiest rides it is possible to get on four wheels. Tested in the Chilean mountains at altitudes of up to 5,250 metres, where it was ridden over volcanoes, frozen salt lakes and even minefields, it was sure to stand up to a morning jolly around the Akamas.

Dirt and dust flying in your face means goggles, or at least sturdy sunglasses, are essential. Clothes too are likely to get splattered with dust or mud depending on the season and those with a health problem such as asthma would be well advised to wear a proper dust mask throughout the trip.

Loud and fast, quad bikes have acquired something of a live fast reputation, and in the wrong hands they can indeed by dangerous. In what became a very public incident, Ozzy Osborne broke a vertebrae in his neck, his collarbone and cracked six ribs in a quad bike accident on his estate. Then, comedian Rik Mayall spent five days in a coma after his quad bike landed on top of him. Both these celebrities made the mistake of treating this recreational vehicle as a fun, outdoor toy forgetting it’s a powerful machine that needs to be treated with a great deal of respect.

Ruling the bike is key to riding safe on a quad, you have to be at one with what’s between your legs, so you can then churn up the earth in full accordance with health and safety regulations; the quad is basically the modern equivalent of the horse in that you have to always hold the reins tight and be ever the master of the machine.

Tipping the bike over is an initial fear for many first-time riders but, that only happens when a person is being foolish and loses control, if the ground is greasy the rear end can slide out but, overall, the quad is much easier to ride than a motorbike. The other daft and exceedingly dangerous trick is standing up while driving, that’s when you can be felled by a branch.

Taking these safety concerns on board, quads can be great fun. The quad has the superior advantage of being able to get to places other vehicles cannot venture so your trip can be quite exciting, especially if you’d never ventured to those parts of the Akamas.