Cyprus - autumn bulbs and natural history
We first visited Cyprus way back in 1991 and always look forward to returning to Aphrodite’s island.
Exploring the quiet Cypriot countryside in search of autumn bulbs and other endemic plants, while enjoying the autumn sunshine.
Cyprus is a charming island, full of exciting wild flowers and beautiful landscapes, blessed with a sunny climate where the warmth lasts long into the autumn and with delightful, friendly people. Our trips to Cyprus have been some of our most popular and repeated trips, and we are looking forward to a return this autumn.
The Cypriot flora has elements from both Europe and Asia and the relative isolation of the island has allowed an endemic flora to develop: of around 1,910 plant species in Cyprus, almost one in ten are endemic. In addition to autumn-flowering plants, we should also start to pick up some of the earliest ‘spring’ flowers: spring starts very early in Cyprus, surprisingly, well before Christmas! Whilst focusing on the wonderful wild flowers, we won’t be missing out on any of the other wildlife this island has to offer. Birds, butterflies and reptiles may all be a feature of our days.
Our base is a pleasant family-run hotel on the coast not far from Polis, looking out over Chrysochou Bay. From here we can explore the Alcamas Peninsula and other nearby areas of botanical interest. We will also visit the open juniper forest at Pegeia and the lower slopes of the Troodos Mountains.
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.
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.
Day 1 Our flight takes us to Paphos, from where we transfer to our hotel (c1hr 30mins), where we will be welcomed ‘home’ by our delightful hosts. There will be time to relax before the first of our delicious home-cooked Cypriot dinners.
Day 2 After breakfast, we walk along the coast to the botanic garden at the Baths of Aphrodite towards Fontana Amorosa. We should find endemic plants along the way, and hopefully several lizard species, all the while enjoying the breath taking scenery, with high cliffs dropping steeply down to the sea.
Day 3 Today we take a short drive up into the hills of the Akamas, to the village of Kritou Terra. This picturesque village, with its old washing holes, lies amongst the terraced fields and quiet lanes. Here, among the abandoned terraces we will search for some of the special autumn bulbs of the area: we hope to find the endemic Crocus veneris together with Scilla autumnalis and Muscari parviflorum. After our picnic lunch, we walk on to the twin villages of Kritou and Terra. Sardinian and Cetti’s Warblers may both already be singing from the bushes.
Day 4 Today our attention will turn to the history of the island, visiting several sites around Paphos. We start with a visit to Agios Georgios tis Pegeias to look for the endemic Taraxacum aphrogenes, an autumn-flowering dandelion. We also visit the Byzantine church nearby and the peaceful monastery of Ayios Neophytes, the grotto retreat where the hermit St Neophytos made his home and famous for its Byzantine frescoes. We next move to the Tombs of the Kings, dating back to the ptolemite Cypriot Kingdoms, where we will find interesting coast-loving plants among the archaeology. We spend the afternoon on the Paphos Peninsula, part of the Paphos World Heritage Site, with ‘houses’ of Roman mosaics. We will look for whatever birds, butterflies and flowers we can find amongst the ruins.
Day 5 A local day after our travels yesterday. We will walk out from the hotel to explore the local hillsides, home to two species of Narcissus. After lunch, the rest of the afternoon is free to explore the area at your own pace, just relax around the hotel or even take a dip in the sea.
Day 6 Today we explore the Pegeia Forest, on the west side of the Akamas. The shallow soils here support one of the best preserved forests of Calabrian Pine and Phoenician Juniper, forming a scattered, low canopy beneath which we will find an interesting variety of plants. We will look for Colchicum pusillum, Euphorbia dimorphocaulon and the lovely Autumn Lady’s Tresses.
Day 7 Today we visit the village of Smygies in the heart of the Akamas. We start our walk among the pines on the ridge running along the centre of the peninsula, with views over to the west side, where we will look for some of the plants endemic to the serpentine rocks of the area. We walk down through the pine forest into the olive and carob groves and from there into the village, where we will stop for a taverna lunch. We then walk on back to the hotel. Bulbs we should come across during the day may include the endemic Hyacinthella millingenii and perhaps even the very earliest ’spring’ orchids of the year, Anacamptis collina and Ophrys israelitica.
Day 8 After a last lazy breakfast, 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 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 (weather allowing). Lunches will be mostly picnic packed lunches provided by the hotel. All meals are included in the holiday price.
Local travel will be by by small coach.
The group flights are with Easyjet from London Gatwick to Paphos.
Cyprus is two hours ahead of UK time.
It is also possible to travel with Easyjet from Manchester to Paphos.
If you hold a British passport, from 1 January 2021 you will be able to travel to Cyprus for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. You must have at least six months left on your passport.
The weather should be pleasant, perhaps even still hot down near the coast. In general we should expect warm, sunny weather. There may be the occasional shower on some days, but continued bad weather is unlikely.
Please see the General Information leaflet for health and fitness requirements. On most days, we are walking for much of the day, albeit at a slow pace. It is necessary to walk on rougher ground and up some slopes, although none of the walking is strenuous. Walking boots are essential.