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Cyprus – spring wildlife on Aphrodite’s wildlife

We first visited Cyprus way back in 1991, and we are looking forward to returning to Aphrodite’s island once again, our 33rd holiday to this friendly country. 

The wildlife of Cyprus has elements from both Europe and Asia, with familiar western species alongside eastern specialities such as Turban Buttercup and Persian Cyclamen, Black Francolin and Starred Agama, while it has been isolated long enough to also support its own range of endemic plants, birds, reptiles and butterflies.

March is the best month to enjoy the island’s wild flowers, particularly the orchids, with just a handful of late- and early-flowering species being missed. There will also be a good selection of other flowers to enjoy, from colourful bulbs and herbaceous species to attractive shrubs, including endemics from various families. Whilst paying plenty of attention to the wonderful wild flowers, we won’t be missing out the other wildlife this island has to offer.

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Our base is a pleasant family-run hotel on the coast on the Akamas Peninsula not far from Polis, looking out over Chrysochou Bay. From here, we will explore the surrounding hillsides, fields and meadows in search of wild flowers, early spring butterflies and migrant birds which should be passing through in good numbers and variety at this time of year. Various warblers, flycatchers, wheatears, larks and buntings could all be seen during the week, along with local specialities including both Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear, endemic to the island.

During our visit we will learn about the conservation challenged facing the island, and the work of BirdLife Cyprus. Cyprus has a rich history, and we will spend time at a variety of historical sites including the World Heritage archaeology of the Paphos peninsula.

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Wildlife Travel Cyprus spring 2015

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

Dates

27 April – 1 May 2020

Leader

Philip Precey and Phil Saunders

Price

£1,485

Single Room Supplement – £125

Included

Return flights from London Gatwick to Cyprus. Local transport as specified in itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation, full board.

Not included

Refreshments. Entrance fees to archaeological sites. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Group size

Minimum 5, maximum 14.

Day 1 Our morning flight takes us to Paphos, from where we transfer to our hotel (c1hr 30mins). where we will be welcomed ‘home’ by our delightful hosts. After settling in, there will be time to relax at the hotel or take a local walk in the afternoon.

Day 2 We walk along the coast from the botanic garden at the Baths of Aphrodite towards Fontana Amorosa. The scenery is breathtaking, with high cliffs dropping steeply down to the sea. During the walk we should see an abundance of Cyclamen persicum and Ranunculus asiaticus, with the endemic Paphos Blue amongst the early spring butterflies, and migrant birds flitting amongst the bushes, hopefully including flycatchers, warblers and shrikes.

Day 3 Today we will exlore Pegeia Forest. Beneath the scattered canopy of Calabrian Pine and Phoenician Juniper we will find an interesting variety of orchids: depending on the season we could find ten species, including Ophrys fusciflora subsp levantina, O. argolicai subsp elegans and the delicate Neotinea maculata. We will also inspect some interesting seasonal rock pools where local rarities can be found, including the diminutive Least Adder’s-tongue Fern. Reptiles could include the impressive Starred Agama, Kotschy’s Gecko, the tiny Snake-eyed Skink or even European Chameleon.

Day 4 Today our attention will turn to the history of the island. We start with a visit to the monastery of Ayios Neophytos famous for its byzantine frescoes. From here we move to the Tombs of the Kings, dating back to the ptolemite Cypriot Kingdoms, where we will find interesting coast-loving plants and migrant birds among the archaeology. Finally, we will spend our afternoon on the Paphos Peninsula, part of the Paphos World Heritage Site, with ‘houses’ of Roman mosaics. This site is also known as a migrant hot spot, and after soaking up the history we will check to see what birds we can track down.

Day 5 In the morning we will return to the intricacies of orchid identification during a walk in the meadows near the hotel. Here, we hope to find three forms of tongue orchids, including the delicate locally endemic Serapiasaphroditae’. After lunch at the hotel the afternoon is free to explore the area at your own pace.

Day 6 We head back to the Paphos area today, with birds on our mind. We will be joined by a conservationist from BirdLife Cyprus as we visit several local sites, hoping to find the endemic Cyprus Wheatear and Cyprus Warbler along with other interesting migrants and local specialities, while enjoying the flowers we find along the way.

Day 7 We drive up to the ridge in the heart of the Akamas. Beneath the pines we will look for wild flowers, including more orchids, including Ophrys umbilicata subsp lapethica and O. fusca subsp iricolor. A week is a long time during spring and it will be interesting to compare the plants with those we saw during our first days and to find out what new migrant birds have arrived.

Day 8  After a last lazy breakfast on the sunny patio, we must gather our things and bid fond farewell to the Aphrodite Beach and head homewards.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities or at the discretion of the leaders.

 

The Aphrodite Beach Hotel is a wonderfully welcoming family-run hotel, located on a beautiful coastline.

Meals, using fresh local produce, are taken in the lovely dining room overlooking the bay. Breakfasts can be taken on the terrace. Lunches will be mostly picnic packed lunches provided by the hotel: we will have one taverna lunch in the village of Neo Chorio (Day 7).

Local travel will be by by small coach.

The group flights are with Easyjet from London Gatwick, as follows:

23 March Departs London Gatwick 07.10, arrives Paphos 13.40
30 March Departs Paphos 14.20 arrives London Gatwick 17.20

Cyprus is two hours ahead of UK time.

It is also possible to travel from Manchester with Easyjet, as follows:

23 March Departs Manchester 12.30, arrives Paphos 19.15
30 March departs Paphos 20.05, arrives Manchester 23.15

For those flying from Manchester, we can arrange individual transfers to or from the hotel (about an hour’s taxi ride, arranged by the hotel at reasonable cost)

If you hold an EU passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Cyprus. Should we leave the EU without a deal in place, before June 2020, you should have at least 6 months left on your passport from your date of arrival.

The weather should be pleasant, even hot down near the coast. In general we should expect warm, sunny weather. Showers are unlikely but possible.

On most days, we are walking for much of the day, albeit at a relatively slow pace. The longest walk (Day 7) will be just over 7km, mostly downhill. It is necessary to walk on rougher ground and up some (gentle) slopes, although none of the walking is strenuous. Good (light) walking boots are essential. All walks and excursions are optional.