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.
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