Walks outside the UK
Date: 23rd May 2013
Distance: 9.5 miles
Ascent: 1066 feet
Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
With: On my own
An exciting walk through the dramatic scenery of the Avakas Gorge in the Akamas Peninsula of Cyprus.
Route Summary: White River Restaurant - Toxeftra - Avakas Gorge - Pegeia Forest - Lara Beach Road - Toxeftra - White River Restaurant.
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: When I first visited Cyprus back in 2003 it was before I'd taken up hill walking and so didn't even contemplate exploring any of the island on foot. We did however do a 'Safari' tour of the Akamas Peninsula one of the highlights of which was a short walk into the Avakas Gorge. I was really impressed at the time and, returning ten years later, it was top of my list if I got chance to go out for any walks.
The first obstacle to overcome was how to get there. Staying in Paphos I was about a half hour drive away but didn't really fancy hiring a car. In the end I caught a cab - it cost me 60 euros for a return journey so probably not all that different to how much I'd have spent on car hire and petrol. Even better the taxi they sent for me turned out to be a Mercedes Limo! Being chauffeur driven to a walk was definitely a first for me.
The temperature had been in the mid-30's centograde - in other words damn hot - so I arranged to be picked up at 7am in the morning so I could get as much walking done as possible while it was still relatively cool. The furthest the taxi would take me was the White River Restaurant north of Agios Georgios. From there I walked up the dusty track heading for Lara Beach before turning off at the Toxeftra parking area to head for the entrance to the gorge. On the way I lost count of the number of lizards, large and small, that went scurrying away under cover at my approach.
I knew some people who'd tried walking up the gorge just the week before but had to turn back as there had been a large storm the day before and as a result the Avgas Potomas stream was running high and the rocky path was treacherously slippery. It certainly wasn't as bad for me but there was still a lot more water than expected and I must have crossed the stream at least 30-40 times before I emerged out of the far end of the gorge.
Undoubtedly the highlight was fairly early into the walk where the gorge narrows down to just a few feet across. It was impressive and eerie at the same time with the only sounds being the local rock doves and, more worryingly, the odd small rock falling down. At least nothing came down the size of the boulder that had fallen and wedged itself between the sides of the canyon at its narrowest. At this point navigation was simple, if often awkard as I scrambled over slippery rocks and round deep pools. It was during the course of one scramble that I managed to split my shorts from knee to crotch.
As the gorge became wider the path also began to play hide and seek. Occasional splashes of red paint on a rock put me back on track but there were a few places where I had to retrace my steps or take detours to avoid obstacles or heavy undergrowth. One of the more memorable features of the gorge was the bright pink flowers of the oleander bushes that were to be found almost the entire length of gorge.
Eventually, just as I was beginning to tire in the growing heat, I made it out of the gorge and into a grassy valley. With no real walkers maps available I was reliant on the directions provided in the Rother Walking Guide I was using, it did the trick and 20 minutes later I made it to a dusty minor road between Kato Arodes and Lara. I followed this east for a few miles as it gently wound its way down through the scrubby Peigeia Forest with some impressive views down to Lara Bay and Cape Drepano. This track finally led back to the coastal road where for the first time in over four hours I saw another human being - mainly tourists nervously driving their hire cars along the bumpy track to Lara Bay. I got a few smiles as they passed by, probably because the remnants of my shorts were flapping about my thighs!
I'd arranged for the taxi to pick me up from the White River Restaurant at 12.30pm and made it back with just ten minutes to spare - just enough time to treat myself to a much needed ice cream. This was a walk unlike any other that I'd done and was a real adventure, tough but enjoyable, and if the opportunity arose I'd like to do some gorge walking again.