As the month of May is usually the time of year such things to come out of their hibernation slumber, we thought we would give you a run down of the various species of snake that you may come across in North Cyprus! Those of us who live here are fairly familiar with the varieties that we may all come across and, as most of them are pretty harmless, we would advise you not to panic should you come across one! Most of us treat snakes with a kind of scared disgust, imagining them to be slippery reptiles that will leap out of bushes and bite us, when in all honesty all they want is to be left alone to live quiet lives!
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.
KUŞKOR, translating to North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Birds and Nature, has been active in North Cyprus for over 10 years, and strives to educate the Turkish Cypriot population about protecting birdlife and nature through presentations to schools and villages, as well as monitoring the bird population on the island as best it can, whether migratory or native.
Formed in the early 1990’s, they work hard to protect and conserve the current bird population of North Cyprus at a time when the birds’ local habitat is dwindling through tourism development, and the numbers of birds are depleting due to hunting and hotter and dryer summers.
The extremely attractive and peaceful village of Karaman, (or Karmi, which is the Greek name for the settlement), sits around 1,000 feet above sea level and is located on the lower slopes of the Kyrenia mountain range. The gothic castle of St. Hilarion sits majestically above it, and is easily viewed from any spot in the village.
To visit Karmi take the coastal main road from Kyrenia until you reach Karaoğlanoğlu, and take a left turn signposted for Edremit and Karaman. You will make your way up the mountain passing through the village of Edremit and its popular little Basket Shop, up past the small and private Hilarion Holiday Village and then Treasure Restaurant, bending round sharply to the right, and then on into the village.
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.
North Cyprus is a must-visit for bird lovers because it’s a major migration route for many species, and it’s also a permanent home for many others. The majority of migration is from March through to May when you will see northward migration, and then again between August and October when you can see the migration heading southwards. However, it is entirely possible to see birds migrating beyond these months.
There are many places to bird watch, and a visit to any of the mountain castles in North Cyprus will give you a great view from which to watch for these birds – as well as providing you with a great day out walking in history.
North Cyprus is host to an eclectic mix of unusual wildlife, and some fascinating species can be seen at any time of year. North Cyprus is also home to common and recognisable species such as hedgehogs, foxes and tortoises, although the latter is not native to the island but was probably brought from Turkey and left free to roam the countryside!
There are an abundance of butterflies and also mammal, reptile and sea species, and you can find examples of wildlife anywhere in the mountains and along the unpopulated coastal areas. North Cyprus is also famous for its wild flowers, especially the rare orchids that attract travellers from all over the world.