Walking the Karpasia/Karpaz region
A mysterious red rock, the smell of the wild oregano by the coast, ruins of ancient civilizations, and our bare feet on a king’s hill.
We are walking along one of the four new hiking trails in Karpasia/Karpaz where each color changes with the seasons, giving nature lovers new reasons to walk the same trail again and again.
In spring, yellow flowers contrast the green of the carob trees and the indigo blu of the sea. In summer it all turns yellow, a dried brownish yellow. None is around. Only some farmers to point visitors the right direction.
The trail narrows and suddenly widens up again behind a corner, to an unknown sandy beach. What is beyond Karpasia/Karpaz golden beach remains unknown to most Cypriots – including those living in the region.
“Luckily” – one might say. And yet, if correctly experienced, this region has so much to offer to our senses and so much to teach us about sustainable development.
- 4 new hiking trails in Galinoporni/Kaleburnu, Rizokarpaso/Dipkarpaz, Agialousa/Yalusa/Yenierenkoy and Koma Tou Gialou/Kumyali
- 20,000 pocket guides (5000 for each trail) in English, Turkish and Greek are available to visitors
- More than 60 people took part in each trail inauguration event
Within the EU funded and UNDP supported call for the proposals for small grants in the Karpasia/Karpaz region, experienced trail builders from the Mountaineering Sports Association have selected four routes based on the variety of landscapes and seascapes, endemic flora, and cultural remains with the aim of bringing people closer to Karpasia/Karpaz nature and increasing sustainable activities offers in the region.
“Captain Jack Cousteau said -people protect what they love- I believe that love of nature only grows when nature’s beauty is revealed to us. If there is no medium to discover the beauty of nature, then we do not know about nature, we do not love nature, and we do not protect nature. The new generations grow detached from the nature, giving rise to adults with no attachment and no sense of belonging to their natural environment. I believe we can bring people and nature together, introduce them to each other and facilitate the bonding to start a long lasting friendship. Only then nature will be in safe hands” explains Tugberk Emirzade, project coordinator.
Although it is well known that Karpasia/Karpaz peninsula has the widest areas of un-spoilt nature on the island, few opportunities are offered to visitors to enjoy and explore these unique landscapes. The aim of the project was to create a trail package that would at the same time increase the offer of open-air activities for nature lovers. Before, existing trails were designed as walks from point A to B, but not in the form of a “ring”, leaving few options to individual visitors. With four “ring” trails, visitors can park and hike a trail each day, giving them a reason to remain in the region for many days, hence increasing the economic impact of sustainable nature-based activities on the local communities.
At first, the involvement of local people was more about a little extra income rather than nature protection.
“When we asked local youth to help us designing the new trails, they accepted looking at it as a way to make a little extra money for themselves" explains Tugberk. "But as we continued working together, they started to be more and more interested in our job. They asked questions about foreign visitors and their interests about the region's flora and fauna and told us many legends about local places. One day, while scouting for new trails, we reached a field of seasquill. It is very usual to find seasquill in Karpasia/Karpaz’s, but I had never seens such a big number in the same place. It seemed someone had planted them. But the only farmer we met in its vicinity actually told us that he was planning on plowing the field to eliminate them. At that point our assistants started to tell the farmer that those plants shouldn’t be cut, how unique that field was, and how visitors walking the new trail would have loved to see them. Our goal was achieved on that day. Nature – at least along that trail - was in safe hands. In the safe hands of its young local people.”
By raising local incomes and developing skills of young people on for example how to build, maintain and preserve a trail the project contributed to sustainable local development and community based conservation.
“At first we were quite skeptical about this project – explains the owner of a restaurant in Galinoporni/Kaleburnu - but during the new trail opening days, we suddenly saw a lot of new people visiting our village to simply experience our nature. My restaurant was full like it had not been in a long time. We realized that the nature around us is valuable and that protecting it is in our interest”.
Four hiking trails were designed in Galinoporni/Kaleburnu, Rizokarpaso/Dipkarpaz, Agialousa/Yalusa/Yenierenkoy and Koma Tou Gialou/Kumyali. 20,000 pocket guides (5000 for each trail) in English, Turkish and Greek were produced to allow visitors to plan multiple days self-guided hiking tour of Karpasia/Karpaz!
Click on the links in the right column to download the trails maps.