My favourite thing about backpacking is seeking out natural phenomenons that others might not have the time to experience as they only have a 5 night holiday to see general touristic sites and often these type of people just want to sit, relax and do nothing on a beach. I find it a shame as I’m the type of person that seeks a new adventure every day. Even when I did take short trips away, I often came back feeling like I needed a holiday from my holiday as they were so jam packed with fantastic things to do and unique sights to see, I needed this blog just to write it all down!
An amazing yearly event I was able to witness last summer was the drying of the Salt Lake in Larnaca, Cyprus. Not many people know about this gorgeous place, but I’d encourage you to go and see it for yourself. The lakes in Cyrpus are so salty that during the summer months the water completely evaporates, leaving a hard white crust over the bottom of the lake and dirt below. The drying then allows people to walk across the entire lake. Maybe this is actually how Jesus was able to ‘walk on water’, it evaporated! Just kidding, but it is pretty damn cool to walk across an area previously filled with water and crush the hard salt under your feet.
(laying on the salty ground at the Larnaca salt lake)
During winter the lakes refill with water and another beautiful and natural occurrence happens. Flamingos flock to the lake during their migration period to eat the shrimp and algae that live in the lakes once the body of water returns. A fun fact is that flamingos are actually born white and it is from eating this particular food from the incredibly salty lakes that turn them pink!
My next goal now is to come back to Cyprus in winter so see my favourite bird in a large flock as I love their gangly legs and vibrant colour. If you are coming to Cyprus at some point, but not heading to Larnaca, don’t fear there is a second lake in Limassol that you can visit. It also dries in the summer and is the first lake the flamingos attend in the winter, prior to flying further up the coast to Larnaca.
(View of the Cape Greco sea caves from the water)
The other natural phenomenon I was able to witness was the sea caves in Ayia Napa. This is a pretty popular holiday destination for families and people in their early 20s from the UK getting wasted to celebrate their graduation from school or university. I was grateful I came at a time where it wasn’t packed with tourists as I was able to have the Sea Caves and its water almost entirely to myself.
The water is varying shades of blue and one of the hottest places I have ever swum in, even though it was October! It felt like swimming in a bath and I literally paddled about for hours on end, not wanting my time there to end. The place is hard to locate as if you take the bus to Cape Greco from Ayia Napa it stops a good kilometre further up the road and you’ll have to walk back down the road to find the road for the sea caves. If driving yourself you may miss the turn off, as it is only noted by one small wooden sign on the right side of the main road and has a short dirt road. If you drive down the road, be aware there are some big sand pits and holes, so being cautious with your car is a must. You will come out to the ridge of the huge cliff and see the big drop below that many people cliff jump from.
It’s approximately 25m high, so if you’re going to jump, shape your body like a pin, don’t have your arms and legs spread or you’ll severely hurt yourself. Do take this warning seriously as a Cypriot teacher I spoke with told me of how one of her students jumped in a star shape and literally tore up her vagina, needing serious surgery. Not a pretty thought is it…
(view of the water from one of the sea caves)
Alternatively, make your way down the side of the cliff, climbing down the rocks to the water by the sea caves. These naturally carved out holes look amazing and you could even sit for a bite to eat some lunch, but you might be disrupted by people wanting to take lots of photos! I felt fine to throw my bag on a big rock sitting in the water as the tide was low and there wasn’t many people around. I ended up spending hours swimming! It’s also a great spot to sail to via boat. I saw a few hired yachts anchored nearby and people could swim in to the land to try their luck at climbing the rock face and jumping back into the water from the top!
The main reason I suggest these places is that they are unique to Cyprus and not something you will see in many other locations. Even coming late in the season like I did in October, it was still above 30 degrees and the water was perfect for snorkelling. Hands down Ayia Napa is my favourite swimming spot in Europe so far that I can only hope some of you will be able to see it at some point in your lives too.
♥ Love from Leah