Started in 2004, the North Cyprus Friends of Karpaz Association is comprised of local residents and other interested parties who wish to protect the much coveted Karpaz region in North Cyprus. For many years now the area has been a valuable home to the traditional rural way of Cypriot life as well as the islands most ecologically diverse landscape. Friends of Karpaz will do its best to keep it just that way.
Firstly we will admit to perhaps using the phrase ‘eco-tourism’ a little too freely – however, there really are many ventures in North Cyprus which do try their utmost to offer the environmentally aware visitor a more eco-friendly type of holiday!
Whilst the rise of the 5 star hotel resort seems to be pretty much the dominant force at present on the island, there are major efforts to boost offerings for visitors who wish to experience a more traditional type of existence whilst on holiday. Projects often funded by the government, grants and aid from the European Union as well as NGO organisation assistance and expertise are already forcing the issue with some success.
If you’re looking for a holiday on a budget then there is plenty of choice for you and your family. You can take your pick from self catering to half board, as well as a choice of bed and breakfast accommodation and guesthouses. Unfortunately there is no such thing as the Youth Hostel Association here just yet, but there is plenty on offer for those watching their pennies.
There are a number of bonuses to choosing this type of accommodation, as most budget hotels are small family run establishments – perfect if you prefer peace and quiet. Some suit the more backpacker type of person with plenty of beach hut hostelries dotted around the Karpaz area for example, although there is plenty of slightly higher quality accommodation in this area which suits a smaller budget too.
If you are looking for something different whilst planning a trip to North Cyprus and you enjoy the great outdoors, then there are a growing number of specialist tour operators adding itineraries to accommodate the likes of the walkers, bird watchers and divers amongst us.
North Cyprus has so much to offer those who love an environment orientated holiday, and the world seems to be taking a stand of sorts against mass tourism these days, so it’s nice to see that there are companies who are grasping all that is beautiful about this part of the island and promoting its unique qualities in terms of nature and the environment.
The Karpaz Peninsula is one of the last remaining true sanctuaries of peace and calm, it’s a place littered with historical sites and stunning views where everyone should visit at some point whilst on the island of Cyprus.
To get to the Karpaz you can go either via Famagusta on the south-east coast and turn inland heading north, or you can now take the coastal road via Esentepe and Tatlısu where a new road is being constructed, but as yet it’s not quite finished.
If you want to see the best of North Cyprus you can get to appreciate the landscape via the healthy option of a good bracing stroll across the mountains and lowlands, and there are a few organisations who have sought to accommodate people’s desire for walking and hiking too.
(Please note: in our other articles on land activities and water activities you will find a whole host of things to keep you occupied, things which could even become a hobby or interest which you would like to become proficient in, such as diving for example.)
North Cyprus has a large festival scene, and there are more and more festivals being formed every year it seems! You can attend village festivals that play on the particular speciality that the village lends its name to, or you can feast on the international music and culture festivals at some of the great historical venues in TRNC.
The festival season spans roughly six to seven months of the year, with the first events being held around April time and the last ones finishing off in late October, early November. So you can try to catch one when you’re visiting, or even attend a few if you’re living here on the island!
Kalavaç is a neat little village to visit if you are aroundabout the Gecitkale or Ercan area, perhaps you may be on an airport run and fancy taking a detour. It has recently been touted in the local media as one of several villages to undergo renovation and restoration with funds donated in 2006 by the EU Commission and UNDP (United Nations Development Project).
It can be reached along the Geçitkale to Boğaz main road, and you will see signs around 10 miles after turning off the main junction in Lefkoşa. Turning left you travel up a long straight road through green fields (well it was winter when we visited!) and up into the village which itself sits on the lowland slopes of the Mesaoria Plain.
The Karpaz peninsula is located on the far eastern stretch of North Cyprus, and it stretches right up to the tip of the peninsula, it’s often referred to as the ‘panhandle.’ You may even hear or see the peninsula being called Karpasia, Karpas, Kirpasha, Carpasia or Dipkarpaz – in fact Dipkarpaz is a present day town, and Carpasia was the ancient city where the ruin of Ayios Philon stands. It was once a very densely populated area during both the Roman and Luisignan times, but now it is far less so.
The Karpaz peninsula has some breathtaking beaches, wonderful walks and is littered with ancient churches, monuments, remains and ruins. Part of the area is also now a designated National Park, where feral donkeys are allowed to roam free and nature is pretty much left alone. The Karpaz is also largely an agricultural area producing crops, and you will find that most local inhabitants have animals and land, but tourism also obviously plays a large part in the economy too.
The village of Büyükkonuk, (formerly Komi Kebir), in North Cyprus is located in the lowland foothills of the Beşparmak mountain range on the far east of the island. It’s situated about 6km north-east of Boğaz, just before the start of the Karpaz Peninsula region. It is also a village of some note due to it recently being designated as an area for eco-tourism, and has subsequently even been filmed by foreign film crews for international culture programmes.
It is accessible from taking the very scenic coastal road past Esentepe and onto the partially finished new road which will take you to Kaplıca. You will then venture on to older roads turning right inland signposted for Büyükkonuk and Sazlıköy. Alternatively you can take the inland Geçitkale road to Iskele and Boğaz, turning left at the costal junction, following the coastal road for a few miles until you reach turnings for Tuzluca and Büyükkonuk.