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Explore one of the most unspoilt regions of the Mediterranean on this walking trip through North Cyprus' beautiful Besparmak Mountains. Follow quiet, flower-rich mountain trails and discover imposing ruined castles, with stunning cobalt sea backdrops.
Explore Tour Leader
7 nights comfortable hotel
Leisurely and Moderate
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip begins at our hotel, a small resort located around 1.5 miles from the centre of Kyrenia. Departures on 17Feb24, 24Feb24, 09Mar24 and 16Mar24 will be staying in the town of Alcansak, around 8 miles along the coast from Kyenia. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 8pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Kyrenia at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into either Ercan Airport (North Cyprus ECN) a 25 minutes' drive from the hotel or Larnaca Airport (Cyprus LCA) and 1.5 hours' drive. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you could choose to head into Kyrenia to sample some excellent North Cyprus food and explore the town's eclectic mix of Venetian facades, mosques and minarets. Kyrenia is particularly famous for its 'picture postcard' vista of its striking Crusader castle and old harbour set against the dramatic backdrop of the Besparmak Mountains. Please note that the harbour area is undergoing renovations until summer 2023 and access is restricted.
Our base for the week is The Ship Inn, located around 1.5 miles from the centre of Kyrenia, a 45 minute walk or can take a local bus. The hotel facilities include an outdoor pool, bar and restaurant, the comfortable rooms are all en-suite with air conditioning and a balcony or terrace.
On 17Feb24, 24Feb24, 09Mar24 and 16Mar24 departures our base for the week is Denizkizi Hotel, located in the coastal town of Alcansak. This beachfront resort hotel offers easy access to the sea and there are plenty of restaurants within easy walking distance. The comfortable rooms are all en-suite with aircon and facilities include a restaurant and fitness centre. Their outdoor pool opens in May.
The Ship Inn (or similar)
Our main briefing will be after breakfast this morning before we drive along the coast to Kantara Castle, through a beautiful rural landscape of green fields, olive groves and small villages. En route, we will stop off at Cyprus' largest cavern, Incirli Cave, to see its impressive collection of stalactites and stalagmites along its 100 metre passage.
Kantara Castle has seen its fair share of conflict over the centuries. Indeed, Richard the Lionheart won a famous victory here when he defeated the self-proclaimed king of the island, Isaac Komnenos, after the latter's ill-judged slight against Richard's fiancee. After visiting the castle, we have lunch and then enjoy a walk around the varied landscape of the stunning Karpaz Peninsula upon which the castle stands. The descent is gradual with spectacular coast views and it is possible to see Turkey on a clear day. Before driving back to the hotel, we will have the opportunity to swim and relax on the beautiful sandy Kaplica beach.
Today's leisurely seven-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours with 50 metres of ascent and 450 metres of descent.
Today a short drive takes us to the start of our first walk in the Besparmak Mountains. From the Arapkoy area, we will walk through the mountains to Bellapais village, taking a picnic lunch en route in the forest.
Made famous by Lawrence Durrell in his 1950s award-winning autobiography, Bitter Lemons, much of Bellapais village still retains the easy charm of those Durrell days. The village's main attraction is Bellapais Abbey. Now an imposing ruin with spectacular views of Kyrenia and the Mediterranean Sea, it was founded by Augustinian canons fleeing Palestine in 1200. The abbey flourished until it was looted and vandalised during the 14th century Genoese invasion. It went on to earn a reputation for scandal and corruption, eventually shutting down in the 16th century. After visiting the abbey and the famous Tree of Idleness, under which Durrell would often drink coffee, we return by bus to our hotel.
Later this afternoon, we will drive into Kyrenia for an optional visit to Kyrenia Castle and the Shipwreck Museum, which houses the remains of a 4th century BC merchant ship, with time to stroll around the harbour.
Today's moderate 12.5 kilometre walk is expected to take around four hours with 300 metres of ascent and 350 metres of descent.
This morning we visit Saint Hilarion castle, a stunning historic fort overlooking the Mediterranean Sea . There is time to explore the three floors of the castle complex on foot, one of the best preserved of the Crusader castle. Built into the hillside there are some steep sections and steps to climb to the upper section. We meet at the cafe where you can try a refreshing home made lemonade before driving to the western edge of the Besparmak Mountain range.
Starting in the village of Kozan, we will walk among wild flowers and orchids to the ruins of Sinai Monastery. Although very little is known about this building's history, archaeologists are in agreement about its Byzantine importance. We continue walking through the pine forest to Lapta Village, taking a picnic lunch en route, before returning to our hotel.
Today's moderate 10 kilometre walk is expected to take around four hours with 150 metres of ascent and 450 metres of descent (including a short steep section).
Today has been left free for you to use as you wish. You may choose to visit Famagusta - once one of the richest cities and most important trading ports in the world. The so-called 'City of 365 Churches' has been ravaged by severe wars and earthquakes throughout history, but still contains beautiful examples of medieval and gothic architecture. William Shakespeare is purported to have used it as the setting for Othello and the Venetian Citadel, overlooking the harbour, is popularly known as Othello's Tower. Just five miles to the north of Famagusta is the ancient site of Salamis, which is also well-worth a visit and included in the day trip. With its significant collection of Mycenaean, Roman and Byzantine artefacts, it is the most important ancient city on the island.
Alternatively, you may prefer to use your day to relax, spending time by the hotel's pool or on one of the local beaches.
Today we head out to the west coast, through one of the most fertile agricultural regions in Cyprus, growing an abundance of fruit and vegetables. From the village of Akdeniz, our circular walk takes in pretty countryside, through west coast pine forest and fields in flower, and along the way we will visit a few interesting historical sites including some 5th century BC Aia Irini king tombs and 2500 year old historical Greek fish ponds. We have a picnic lunch on route, before descending to the coast. Our walk continues along turtle beach and arable land until we reach Akdeniz village. After the walk, we can spend some time at Akdeniz Caretta beach, there is a cafe for a drink and the opportunity to swim before we drive back to the hotel.
Today's leisurely 13 kilometre walk is expected to take around four hours with 200 metres of descent.
This morning, we head again into the Besparmak Mountains and to the highest of the Kyrenia strongholds, the ruined fortress of Buffavento. The name means 'buffeted by the wind' and a walk up to the top of the highest tower helps us to understand why. The zig zag path gradually ascends to the ruins, with some steeper steps to get to the top to the castle. On a clear day, our efforts are rewarded with a spectacular view over half the island, with the Troodos Mountains, Famagusta and Nicosia stretching out beneath us. Our main walk for the day takes us to the base of Besparmark, translated as 'The Five Fingered Mountain' because of its distinctive jagged peaks. Legend has it that the mountain was formed when the Byzantine hero, Dhiyenis Akritas, leapt across the sea from Anatolia, leaving his handprint forever etched into the landscape as he landed.
We follow a trail into the pine forest (keeping an eye out for orchids in spring time). Enjoy a picnic lunch at the tiny Church of Panayia Plataniotissa, with views across to Nicosia. Meeting the bus we drive the short distance to the final section of today's walk - under the forest canopy to an abandoned monastery.
Today's moderate walks total 13 kilometres, which is expected to take around four hours with 70 metres of ascent and 170 metres of descent. The forest paths are uneven under foot in places and undulating with a few very short steeper sections.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel near Kyrenia.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from either Ercan Airport (North Cyprus ECN) a 25 minutes' drive from the hotel or Larnana Airport (Cyprus LCA) and 1.5 hours' drive.
Total distance : 33 miles
The climate in North Cyprus is generally very favourable. Typically mediterranean, North Cyprus has very hot dry summers and cooler, yet still pleasant, winters. Temperatures mid summer could reach into the 40s with the lowest temperatures in winter around 15 degrees.
3 pin flat
Turkish, although English is widely spoken
Optional day trip to Famagusta and Salamis. 3-6 people £50, 7-11 people £45 and 12-16 people £40 Taxi from Alsancak to Kyrenia - approx £20 (1-4pax)
Bring light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. The weather conditions in the mountains can be changeable, and it can become cool, especially at night, so bring warmer layers. Tops made from wicking materials which keep you drier and warmer are recommended as a base layer, and walking trousers are preferable to trousers of heavier material such as jeans. A waterproof jacket is advisable for early spring as there may be sporadic rain showers. -Breathable wind and waterproof jacket -T-shirts -Long sleeved tops -Sunhat -Long trousers -Shorts (if you prefer to walk in them) -Swimwear and towel -Midlayer Fleece/pullover -Socks (liner and thicker pair)
We recommend you bring walking boots with ankle support- leather or fabric are both fine. Make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
Bring one main piece of luggage and a 20-30 litre day sack is recommended. You will need to carry what you need for the day which may include a raincoat, jumper, camera, sun-cream, water and picnic lunch. On hot days you will carry fewer clothes but more drinking water.
-Sunglasses -Sun cream -Small Torch (with spare batteries and bulb) -Camera -Walking poles (if you usually use them) -Personal toiletries -Personal first aid kit - On each walk a first aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin and other essentials. -Insect repellent -Small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone) -Reusable water bottle (minimum 1 litre) - Get 15% discount on a Water-to-Go bottle www.explore.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/water-to-go-discount-with-explore -Lunch bag/Tupperware (for packed lunches) -Gaiters (if you usually use them) -Binoculars
The Ship Inn is situated around 1.5 miles from the centre of Kyrenia and set amongst olive and citrus groves. The hotel is within easy access to Kyrenia centre on foot (approx. 40 mins), by taxi or you local bus to explore the harbour, castle and narrow backstreets. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court. There is a bar and restaurant on site (please note that the restaurant will be closed if there are no half board guests staying). All the rooms have a private balcony or terrace, with air-conditioning, satellite television, kettle, fridge and an en suite bathroom with shower. Please note that free Wi-Fi is only available in the public areas. For 17Feb24, 24Feb24, 09Mar24 and 16Mar24 departures - The Denizkizi Hotel is a beachfront resort hotel that offers easy access to the sea and there are plenty of restaurants within easy walking distance in the town of Alcansak. It is possible to reach Kyrenia in a twenty minute taxi ride (approx 20GBP) or by local bus. The Tour Leader will offer the option of dining in Kyrenia on at least one of the evenings. All the rooms are ensuite with air-conditioning, television, kettle and Wi-Fi. Their outdoor pool is not open until May.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
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