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The Unspoilt Wilderness in Paphos, Cyprus

By Lynda Burke

I have lived in Paphos for a few years now and after the euphoria of living in the sun, going to the beach, seeing the sea every day and watching fabulous coastal sunsets every night, had settled to an acceptable level, I then discovered that Paphos has so much more to offer.

Don't get me wrong, all of the above still excite me beyond belief and the "Med lifestyle is all it is cracked up to be, but behind the mask of simply being a tourist attraction, offering all that the discerning holiday maker could be looking for, there is another face to Paphos. Not many visitors will see or experience this face because they are taking a break from their daily lives and looking for fabulous beaches, water sports, great restaurants and total relaxation. But, I have found out what is going on in the background.

Cyprus is an extremely interesting place for nature lovers. Paphos is home to a very rare and very shy wild sheep called the Moufflon that has magnificent curving horns. These heraldic animals, although roaming wild, can be seen at the forestry station in Paphos forest (Stavros tis Psokas). Another delight is that the island has visiting Loggerhead and Green turtles that come ashore to nest every year on the sandy beaches around Paphos. These marine turtles are strictly protected and if you do decide to venture further afield than the local sunbathing beaches and seek out the areas of unspoilt wilderness, you may come across frames on the beach which warn you of a turtle nest and kindly ask you not to disturb. I have also found that many University students studying marine biology spend their holiday time here helping out with the research into these fabulous marine creatures. What a holiday!

Cyprus is also heaven for bird watchers. The island has become a stop over for many migratory birds on their travels from Europe to Africa during the autumn and back again in spring. More than 300 different bird species have been seen and recorded and the island has two endemic species which are often seen in the coastal regions, which are the Cyprus Pied Wheatear and the Cyprus Warbler. One of the islands larger varieties of bird is now very much under threat and conservationists battle hard to save it from extinction. The Griffin Vulture was once a common sight on the island but now their numbers have dwindled to less than 50.

So to those of you that have visited before and enjoyed your summer holidays in Cyprus, why not try an autumn visit. Most of the tourists have returned home and the beaches once again become the domain of our wildlife. You will of course have to make an effort as not all these areas are easily accessed and the areas around Paphos, namely the Akamas Peninsula, can only be accessed by four wheel drive. This will be a unique experience that you will take home and treasure. Imagine walking a beach with no sun beds, no shops, no noise apart from the surf and often nobody else but you! Enjoy the fresh air, the scenery, the forests and keep an eye out for the elusive Moufflon. Then, before leaving our wonderful wilderness find yourselves a comfortable place on the rocks or lay that blanket on the beach and experience some of the best sunsets in the Mediterranean. Paphos behind the mask is a memorable place!

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