Huge numbers of greater flamingos can be seen on Larnaca and Akrotiri salt lakes over the winter.
As part of their conservation remit, BirdLife Cyprus observers contribute to the International Waterbird Census by undertaking a count every January. The encouraging news is that the population is on the increase.
1 Where does the name ‘flamingo’ originate, and what is the connection with their colour?
2 Can you name any species of flamingo?
3 What gives flamingos their distinctive pink colouring?
4 Why would it be dangerous for the newly-hatched babies to be pink?
5 How does the whole colony come to breed at the same time?
6 Why are some birds brighter pink than others?
7 Usually mating for life, how do they attract the attention of a potential partner?
8 What is the life-span of the flamingo? You won’t believe the answer to this one!
You can find the mind-boggling answers to these questions in 8 Amazing Flamingo Facts by Sarah McPherson on Discover Wildlife.
One of the pleasures of warm evenings outdoors is lying back on a lounger or relaxing in a hammock and gazing up at the night sky. Because there’s much less light pollution than in more populated locations, and frequent cloudless skies, the viewing is often rewarding. Switch off the garden and pool lights, pour yourself a chilled drink and enjoy sky-watching in comfort…
The constellations, the moon, meteor showers and the International Space Station can all be seen easily with the naked eye, although you may find the villa binoculars enhance the experience.
The Constellations – any time of year
If you’re new to star-gazing, there is a variety of apps which use your smart phone or tablet camera to assist you in identifying the constellations, for example Google Sky Map.
Perseid Meteor Shower – every July and August
The Perseids are one of the brighter meteor showers of the year. Coming from the direction of Perseus, these tiny fragments from the Swift-Tuttle comet provide more than one meteor every minute. The peak dates for spotting these shooting stars is around August 9 to 13, although they can be seen on any dates between July 17 and August 24.
Our tip: Concentrate on one small part of the sky, rather than scanning too wide an area. Spot one and a multitude usually follow!
International Space Station – any time of year
The International Space Station is most easily seen within a few hours of sunrise or sunset because the sun reflects off the space station providing a good contrast with the darker sky.
The space station looks like an aircraft or a very bright star moving across the sky, although moving in a straight line and 30 times faster.
If you visit NASA’s excellent Spot the Station website, you can find up to date spotting information such as this below to help you decide exactly when and where to look. (For Cyprus viewing you need to choose Nicosia as the location.)
Alternatively, if you have an Android phone or tablet, download ISS Detector Satellite Tracker free app which can sound an alarm 5 minutes before the Space Station is due over your location.
Thought you knew the Cyprus coastline? Surely no-one knows it like Andreas Papadopoulos. The detail in this meticulously researched app is fantastic – search for disabled access, public transport, picnic sites, watersports, sunbeds, WiFi. Plus maps, route planner, photographs, tips and a whole lot more.
Free demo version includes Pissouri Bay Full version €2.29 or £1.99 | For iOS and Android
Alix Norman | Cyprus Mail
“If you’ve lived in Cyprus for more than a year, you know exactly which beaches you prefer. Looking for a pebbly shore, and a quiet day by the sea in Larnaca? Then Oroklini Beach is the place to be. Eastward bound, and in search of sand, snorkeling, and facilities on a Blue-flagged beach? Fig Tree Bay’s a good choice. Or if you’re after total peace and quiet near Limassol, and in possession of a 4×4, then it’s down to Ayios Yiorgos. But here’s the thing: even if you’ve known the island your whole life, there are hundreds of coastal spots still to be discovered. Or, if you’re a tourist, you probably have little notion of just which beach suits your needs. And that’s where the new app, Cyprus Beaches, comes in extremely handy…”
With the warmest climate of all the Mediterranean EU countries, Cyprus is an attractive year-round destination offering something different throughout the seasons. The best Cyprus season? That really depends what you look for in your perfect holiday… Whether your passion is experiencing natural beauty, exploring culture and history, lazy relaxation at the beach, action-packed days filled with sporting activities; or a combination of all of the above, we aim to help you decide the perfect time for your visit.
Winter (November – February)
Yes – you can snow ski in Cyprus! With an elevation of 1952 metres, head for Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountains where there’s a choice of four ski slopes: Aphrodite: 150 m (nursery) | Hera: 350 m (nursery) | Hermes: 150 m (intermediate) | Zeus: 500 m (advanced)
But what everyone wants in a winter break is some sun… At lower levels, pick a sheltered spot on a typical sunny winter’s day, and you’ll find it warm enough to top up your tan.
For water-based activities remember to pack your wet suit. At all times of the year you can find wind-surfing, kite-surfing and paddle-boarding in the coastal resorts.
Planning your excursions to avoid rain showers, this is a good time of year for winter nature walks and scenic drives, particularly along the coast and around the salt lakes. It’s also the season to spot the Greater Flamingo at Akrotiri, Larnaca and Oroklini lakes. Look out for a black one among the pink… it is believed to be a mutation and may be a unique specimen in the wild.
On showery days, why not head for one of the island’s indoor museums? Or explore Nicosia – the world’s only remaining divided capital – centring your exploration around Ledra Street where there is a crossing point to Northern Cyprus. The backstreets of Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca old towns are also worth a wander – with their historic architecture, traditional shops and café culture.
[We do not do winter lets, but you should be able to get a good off-season hotel deal.]
Spring (March – May)
This is arguably the most colourful Cyprus season… lush green fields, carpets of flowers including the most delicate of wild and rare orchids, along with an abundance of yellow mimosa. It’s also capers picking season… (Did you know they are flower buds?) On hillside terraces and valley floors you can watch the vibrant lime-coloured growth emerging from the woody grape vines, just as there’s pastel blossom on the many fruit and nut trees. Spring is the ideal time for countryside nature walks and driving tours.
Different regions have local specialities… Cyprus tulips are grown around the village of Polemi near Paphos, and roses around Agros for making into rose water. Polemi Tulip Festival takes place in March, and Agros Rose Festival at the eastern Troodos village in May.
It’s also the season when nearly 400 species of migrating birds arrive en route from over-wintering in Africa to their breeding grounds in Europe.
And with warmer temperatures, longer days, and less rain than in winter, thoughts naturally turn to outdoor activities. These range from ancient World Heritage historical sites with Greco-Roman remains such as Kourion amphitheatre and Paphos archaeological site to family-friendly attractions such as Paphos Zoo and Sparti Rope Park in Platres forest.
For an adrenaline fix you could learn a new sport on during your Cyprus holiday… maybe try out paragliding with a tandem flight, and if you’re bitten by the bug, progress to elementary and club pilot courses with Cyprus Fly Adventures.
Cultural events for Cypriots focus around Orthodox Easter. In the supermarkets and bakeries you will see special traditional Easter treats for sale, often with tasting samples to try. You can even buy ready-dyed red eggs for the Easter egg-cracking game (which is played like conkers on Orthodox Easter Sunday). And visitors are welcome to visit the local churches to see the flower decorations. In towns and villages around the island Cypriots get together for a pre-Lent picnic, an Easter communal meal and family events. For Pissouri residents this includes games, competitions, music and dancing in Pissouri Square, plus the annual married vs singles football match. If you get the chance, we recommend heading to Paphos harbour for the Kataklysmos celebrations (Festival of the Flood/Pentecost) where the water-based family fun includes our favourite – the greasy pole challenge – the aim being to run along the pole and grab the flag at the end.
While children happily venture into pools and sea in April, adults usually prefer the swimming temperature from May. Days are sunny and comfortably warm, and on hotter days you’ll welcome a cooling breeze. Remember to bring a few warmer clothes for after sunset.
Summer (June – August)
At the height of summer, it’s hot hot hot! Take a few tips from the Cypriots – rise early, enjoy a long siesta in the hottest part of the day, find shade where you can, wear a hat, drink plenty of water, and do everything at a slower pace. In the local vernacular: “Siga, siga!” (“Slowly, slowly!”)
Active holidaymakers can enjoy refreshing water-based activities – either in a pool or at the seaside – paddling, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, diving, surfing, water-skiing, kite-surfing, not forgetting the family favourite – visits to water parks. When you’re ready for a break from the beach, you can escape the heat by heading inland to the cool of the Troodos Mountain pine forest where there are walking trails alongside babbling trout streams, icy pools and cool waterfalls, plus Sparti Rope Park for forest-based family zip-wire fun.
A favourite peak season adventure for beginners is to sample a PADI discover scuba diving taster. Qualified divers can progress through more advanced courses, with wreck dives and night dives available. Other ideas for an active holiday include trying out kite surfing, wind surfing, stand up paddle boarding or jet propelled flyboarding.
But if your holiday preference is to switch off and just chill out, you can relax either poolside or at one of the many Blue Flag beaches.
Hot summer evenings outdoors are one of the delights of this time of year… whether you’re having a barbecue in the garden, dining at your favourite restaurant, having a sunset drink with friends, star-gazing, or going out to an open-air show. Catering for a range of tastes, you can visit Kourion ancient odeon for a Shakespeare Festival in June, or a Greek Drama Festival in July. And at amphitheatres around south-west Cyprus, including Pissouri, there is a popular summer programme of live musical performances, mostly by ‘tribute acts’ from the UK.
July and August are also the peak months for turtle nest hatchings, with the eastern end of Pissouri beach hosting returning females. Normally taking place overnight, maybe once a season a lucky few get to witness a host of tiny baby turtles on their precarious journey from land to sea.
If you have a turtle enthusiast in the family, do consider taking a turtle cruise on board Atlantis from Paphos. George is brilliant at finding turtles, knowledgeable and interesting. His 2-hour sunset cruise is a worthwhile and memorable holiday experience.
Autumn (September – October)
Those who can holiday whenever they like may regard this as the perfect Cyprus season… The temperature is climbing down from the summer highs, with such a gradual cooling of the sea that swimming remains comfortable into November. The full programme of events and activities continues, beaches and restaurants buzz, it’s reliably hot and sunny, with the added bonus of lower humidity than the peak months.
It’s also still warm enough after sunset to enjoy al-fresco evening activities such as open-air concerts at the amphitheatres, scanning the sky for constellations and shooting stars, and outdoor dining in restaurants and tavernas.
In the rural villages you can join in with traditional festivals of thanksgiving for the harvest. Pissouri, surrounded by vineyards, celebrates a seasonal Grapes Festival where tables are set up in the village square for a huge community dinner. The nearby village of Anogyra, specialising in a jelly-like sweet made from carobs, holds a Pastelli Festival. Although traditionally for local inhabitants, visitors are welcome. There may also be stalls selling locally produced specialities, with the opportunity to try before you buy – always a good notion!
In the larger towns there are autumn festivals too… Along the Molos seafront there’s a week-long Limassol Wine Festival with food and wine tasting, music, dancing, games and entertainments. Alternatively there’s the September Paphos Aphrodite Opera Festival, in front of the castle at the harbour.
Birdwatchers can again enjoy spotting opportunities, with a seasonal influx of many species returning to over-winter in Africa and The Middle East.
It’s also the ideal time to get out and about on foot, before late-season rains begin to make some walks muddy and difficult – a good example being a trek along the Akamas Gorge with its spectacular and scary balancing rock.
Once again these fine creatures have arrived in Cyprus for their winter migration. Making themselves at home in Cyprus’ wetlands, they arrive at Larnaca, Oroklini and Akrotiri salt lakes within days of the water level rising. When you see them in their characteristic heads-down pose they are filter-feeding on brine shrimps and blue-green algae using their rough tongues in their upside-down beaks. And it’s their shrimp-heavy diet that gives adult flamingos their distinctive pink plumage.
Video by George Konstantinou from Cyprus Wildlife Tours
Eco-Friendly Viewing… Please Don’t Do This
To keep the flamingos returning year after year, it’s vital that nothing scares these vulnerable birds away by getting too close. Lessons have been learned, and a recent photography competition will not be repeated. Now the advice to photographers is to stay back and use long lenses. While the birds have over a period of years adapted to the hustle and bustle of Larnaca airport, the temptation to get better shots is encouraging ever-closer drone flying. And visitors are asked not to enter the water near the birds.
The safe way to see these marvellous creatures is to visit the viewing galleries at Oroklini Lake or Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre. Both are equipped with binoculars and telescopes to allow you to get a close-up view from a comfortable distance.
A 38 hectare wetland nature reserve ideal for bird-watching between Ayia Napa and Larnaca. Open year-round (although the lake dries up in summer), with free entry.
Facilities include visitor parking, observation platforms, information kiosk, identification boards, bird hide.
260 bird species have been recorded on the Akrotiri peninsula, of which 200 are migratory – using the area as a staging post. The area’s beaches are one of the few nesting sites on island for endangered Green and Loggerhead turtles. Dozens of nests are identified every year and are protected until hatching. Mammals recorded in the area include seals, dolphins and bats.
Visitor Tips: Open year-round, with a permanent lake, free entry | Monday – Friday 08:00 – 17:00 | Sundays 10:00 – 17:00 | Website
Leaving in late afternoon from the second jetty at Paphos harbour, this delightful excursion is one of our all-time favs. Since learning about the trip from guests (thanks Natalie!) and having enjoyed it ourselves, we think it the most magical experience…
Atlantis has an underwater viewing platform with stools and portholes. Running these daily trips, George has a fantastic insider’s knowledge of the flora and fauna of the coral reefs off Paphos. He takes you out a short distance off-shore to an area of sea grass favoured by turtles. The surprise for me was the size of the larger ones… fully grown they approach a metre in length, although the younger ones are considerably smaller.
There are no guarantees, of course, but if you follow George’s Atlantis Facebook page, you will discover that you would be extremely unlucky not to see any. And there are plenty of other sights to savour – enormous stingrays, an amazing variety of colourful fish, beautiful coral reefs and encrusted shipwrecks.
On the way home, George drops anchor to allow you to enjoy a refreshing sunset swim off the boat. (Book on +357 9666 1737 or via Facebook message).
Lara Bay Turtles
Off the beaten track in the protected Akamas Nature Reserve, Lara Bay has the island’s main turtle beach; home to both loggerhead and green turtle nests. If you visit this unspoilt long stretch of golden sandy beach in summer, you will see hundreds of cages protecting nests from predators. Sun loungers and parasols are not allowed on the beach, lest they damage hidden nests.
There is a Turtle Rescue Centre, but be aware this is primarily for conservation, rather than visitors. The two huts on the beach contain interesting information boards about the turtles, and rescue tanks… Sometimes there are baby hatchlings being nurtured to strength in the tanks, but equally there are also times when they are empty. While this is a positive thing – meaning there are currently no baby turtles in need of support, it can be disappointing for visitors, especially children.
The easiest way to get there is to book a jeep safari or hire a 4×4 or quad bike to reach the beach, as it’s approached via a rutted and rocky unmade road. If you’re visiting in a normal hire car, you can park in the car park 200 metres beyond the end of the tarmac road, and continue on foot. The Turtle Rescue Centre is a mile further north, so make sure you’re prepared with good footwear, hat, water and sunscreen. To find it, continue beyond Lara Café, and when you see a sign pointing right to Ineia, take the track opposite onto the beach.
Every summer mature female turtles that hatched here many years previously return to Pissouri beach to nest. Members of Pissouri Turtlewatch patrol the beach in the early mornings looking for tell-tale tracks, so that they can place protective cages over the nests to keep them safe. Once a nest has been established, the countdown to the exciting hatching begins.
The next task for the dedicated volunteers is an overnight vigil (as nests can hatch out any time from dusk till dawn). If mother nature has arranged everything right, this will be on the night of a full moon to help them navigate towards the moonlit water.
Failing that Pissouri Turtlewatch use special red-filtered torches which provide a safe soft light to guide the hatchlings seawards. At this stage every effort is made to avoid picking up or even touching the tiny babies, as this can interfere with the development of their strength and navigational imprinting.
How You Can Help
Turtles are endangered and protected by law, with the odds of surviving to adulthood staggeringly low.
Occasionally things go wrong, leaving the mother turtle or the hatchlings stranded on the beach in daylight when they are obviously at their most vulnerable. In that event, or if you find an injured, distressed or dead turtle, support is available from: Pissouri Turtlewatch (Jimmy +357 9946 2308), or Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre& (+357 2582 6562), or The Oceanic Institute of the University of Cyprus (24/7 helpline +357 9695 2929).
In the meantime, the expert advice is to keep well back, stay quiet, and try to leave them alone, only interfering as a last resort. Removing large pebbles and creating an obstacle-free path directly to the sea can be helpful for the tiny hatchlings. During daylight there is no problem with taking photos and videos, as long as you ensure the flash is turned off.
Tiny Loggerhead Turtle Hatchlings On Pissouri Beach
Many thanks to Chris Price and Claudine Snell of Pissouri Turtlewatch for permission to use their lovely photos.
A previous version of this article was originally posted on our old website blog by Nikki 13/7/2017
If you are feeling energetic, this is a beautiful local walk to Melanda beach at Avdimou – the next bay to the east of Pissouri. Or drive as far as the road takes you, then choose a cross-country walking route from there.
The First Part of The Route
Our development – ‘Vineland Pissouri Bay’ is nestled at the base of a rocky cliff. If you head inland a little, then turn right at Ampelohori, you’ll find a road snaking up the hill to the top of the plateau (see map). On foot the climb is quite strenuous, as the ridge elevation tops 100 metres, so this is not something to be tackled in summer’s midday heat. No problem in a car, of course!
The pay off is some lovely views looking down into Pissouri Bay, and across to Cape Aspro on the opposite headland.
A Beach To Yourself
Once the tarmac road runs out, a variety of clearly defined vehicle tracks lead you eastwards cross-country. This is where you can leave your car and continue on foot. There are plenty of more direct routes, but we suggest following the cliff edge coastal path as shown on the satellite map, to take advantage of the fabulous seascape views.
Hugging the coastline rewards you with a choice of deserted coves where you could enjoy the seclusion of your own tiny beach.
Stone and Crop Circles
A fascinating surprise was some circular artwork lovingly created on the cliff top.
We saw this pebble design and some traditional-looking crop circles in the tall spring grass.
All The Way to Melanda
If you keep going, (for an hour or so beyond the end of the paved road), eventually you’ll arrive at Melanda beach. Using a smart phone with Google maps set on satellite view can help you to navigate.
Near Melanda you cross into the British ‘Sovereign Base’ area – officially UK territory. Although development on this land is restricted, there are two permitted beach restaurants – Melanda Beach Restaurant specialising in fresh local fish dishes, and further along another favourite for traditional Cypriot fare – Kyrenia Beach Taverna.
Indulge in a leisurely lunch and a few drinks – you’ll thoroughly deserve it!
And if the prospect of walking back is too daunting, other options include a taxi or boat pickup… just remember to copy the numbers from the villa handbook into your phone before you set off.
This article was originally posted on our old website blog by Nikki 9/5/2017
Maybe it’s because we’ll be travelling to Cyprus soon, but thoughts have turned to some of our favourite Cypriot dishes and tipples. Mouth-watering prospect! This led to thinking about the restaurants and tavernas we prefer, and why. It’s always a dilemma when you’re only on a short visit about whether to go for tried and trusted, or to brave somewhere new. Guest recommendations are not only useful for fellow guests, but they keep us up-to-speed too. Summaries of this feedback appear in the website guestbook, with printed versions in the villa.
Muse Café Kitchen, Paphos
It’s no secret that we are big fans of Muse in Paphos. So many things combine to make a good (or bad) experience, including expectation, that it’s tricky to recommend places. Having said that we’ve thoroughly enjoyed every meal we’ve had at Muse (and there have been quite a few!) But our enthusiasm for Muse is not just about the food… we love the decor, the terrace, the lighting, the amazing views, the prices, and the service – phew! As it is a little tricky to find, we supply a map route and directions for our guests.
Dining in Pissouri Bay
Not that you need to venture to Paphos for a great dining experience. In Pissouri Bay we are incredibly lucky to have so much choice close by… something regularly mentioned by new visitors. At the last count there were 15 places to dine in the bay itself, not including the hotel’s restaurants. You can see a complete list of the resort amenities on our maps page. Plus there are more restaurants up the hill in Pissouri village too. How many other places this size have so many dining options?
There’s plenty of interest in Cypriot cuisine. Our Cyprus Food and Drink G+ board is by far our most popular, having amassed a staggering 41,000 followers. And learning the stories behind Cypriot favourites such as Kleftiko and the Brandy Sour cocktail is fascinating.
With 51 wineries, if you’re interested in doing a behind-the-scenes tour, along with a tasting, there are lots of options. This newly launched winery website has lots of useful information about what each winery offers.
The CTO has also published a series of seven wine-routes taking you on scenic country drives around Cyprus’ wine-producing regions.
Our Top Ten Suggestions
For our free insider tips of Cypriot food and drinks, along with our fav places to try them, please sign up for our newsletter.
This article was originally posted on our old website blog by Nikki 13/3/2017
For anyone visiting our local beach at Pissouri Bay, we thoroughly recommend you pay a visit to our friends Jeff and Mo at Chris Watersports. You’re sure of a warm welcome and professional service.
Chilling And Relaxing
There’s sunbed and parasol hire. And now you can have free WiFi – if you can tear yourself away from watching the world go by. With showers and changing rooms immediately behind their ‘hut’, you’re in the perfect beach location. Plus Philippos’ ice cream van is handily right next door!
Pootling Around The Bay
Rent a kayak and check out the crystal clear waters for sightings of turtles.
High Octane Thrills On The Water
This video showcases Chris Watersports brilliantly.
You can hire unrestricted 250 and 155 bhp jet skis, or should I say jet bikes – as they have seats? If you’d like to try a new skill or practise an old one, you can book waterskiing, kneeboard or wakeboard lessons. But our fav is a ride on one of their towed inflatables which range from sofas to bananas – brilliant fun! And now they have another new one – Airhead – can’t wait to try it.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, and confident that you have a good sense of balance, you can even book a flyboard lesson. This is an amazing piece of kit rather like a water-based hover board. It works by sending a powerful water jet through a large hose – sending you soaring 30 feet above the azure waters.
Do you like to try something new on holiday? If so a visit to Sparti Park in the pine-clad Troodos Mountains could be for you. With activities suitable for ages from 3 to adult, this is something the whole family can enjoy together.
Zip Wire Family Fun
Since opening in 2015, this zip-wire experience has been continually enhanced and developed. Adding to the original four lines offering different levels of difficulty appropriate for different ages, two zip-wires have been introduced for the youngest visitors (3-5 years), together with archery, crossbow and a free-fall jump platform.
Altogether a great way to enjoy an adrenaline-rush escape in the cool mountain forests, creating a holiday memories to treasure.
Information For Visitors
The first rope adventure forest park in Cyprus, named Sparti after the Spartans from Greece who specialised in physical training and fitness through obstacle courses and military training.