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Although the island country of Cyprus remains divided after a military coup in 1974, the beauty of the land and hospitality of the people stand unfettered as the country edges towards unification. Hunt for castles and monasteries, swim off the shimmering northern coastline, sit wistfully under the Tree of Idleness or watch the donkeys wander along the landscape as you walk down to Golden Beach - this eastern Mediterranean adventure offers plenty of experiences and unforgettable memories to boot.TRIP CHANGES IN 2020:In 2020 this trip will no long stay overnight on the Karpass Peninsular of the Island, it will still visit the Karpass as a day trip. In 2020 this trip will also include a day trip to Kormakitis and dinner in a Maronite village. There will be no daily boat tour, this has been replaced with sunset boat tour.
Day 1: Kyrenia
Welcome to Kyrenia (Girne-Turkish), a beautiful town that boasts an average of 320 sunny days per year. Come 6pm, begin your travels with a welcome meeting at the Nostalgia Hote. Check with reception to confirm the specifics just to be safe. If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Your trip leader will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at the meeting, so please have these on hand. In ages past, Kyrenia's horseshoe harbour played home to carob warehouses, one of the region’s former major exports. These days, it’s lined with lively bars and shops underneath the nearby Venetian Castle that creates an interesting contrast between old and new. Considered to be the cultural and economic centre of Northern Cyprus, there’s no better place to begin your adventures through the island.
Day 2: Kyrenia
Embark on a walking tour of Kyrenia -Girne’s Old town in the morning. The winding alleyways reveal a quaint mix of old stone buildings with colourfully restored architecture, along with the spectacular remains of the abandoned 16th-century Chrysopolitissa Church. Take a visit to the Venetian Castle that guards the city, taking in the magnificent sea vistas from the top of the fortifications. In the afternoon, travel the picturesque St Hilarion Castle. With walls and towers that sprout out of the rocks almost randomly, it’s rumoured that Walt Disney used the castle as inspiration for The Queen’s Castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The highest point stands at a towering 730 metres (2395 feet) above sea level, offering a marvellous view of the lands below. From this point on, continue to Bellapais to explore its monastery, one of the few and fantastic Gothic architectural masterpieces of Cyprus. The village and the monastery became famous after Lawrence Durrell’s book Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, where he mentioned passing time by drinking coffee under the Tree of Idleness – yet two trees claim this title, and it remains uncertain which is the true location.
Day 3: Kyrenia
Enjoy a day on the water floating around the shores of Kyrenia, considered as one of the best ways to experience Northern Cyprus. Watch as the rolling hillsides and towns on the coast slowly roll by while you take in the sunshine on the deck. A few quick stops at one of the crystal clear coves in the area offers the perfect chance for a dip in the ocean – however you’re more than welcome to lay back on the deck with a drink if you’d prefer. Take some time out along the way for a delicious Mediterranean lunch with the group, helping to recharge your batteries before heading back to the port at 4pm.
Day 4: Nicosia / Byukkonuk
Known as Lefkosa to the Turks and Nicosia to the Greeks, the city is full of surprises thanks to a mix of cultures and architecture. The Selimiye Mosque is one of the Turkish side’s highlights, previously known as the Cathedral of Saint Sophia before the Ottomans added minarets in 1571. Marvel upon the interior’s whitewashed walls and examine traces of Gothic architecture lying in the architecture despite the Islamic refurbishment of the building.Afterwards, take a walking tour passing through both sides of the country’s green line. Your passport will be required for the checkpoints at the border and the intriguing contrasts between the divided city will become apparent as you enter the Greek side of the island. Later in the afternoon, loop back into the Turkish side with a trip to the Rizokarpaso - The Karpaz Peninsula before spending the evening at a log cabin in the national forests near Byukkonuk, a traditional Cypriot village.
Day 5: Rizokarpaso
Begin today at Buyukkonuk, a traditional Cyprus village where residents have been working together to preserve local culture and heritage. Meet with your hosts Lois and Ismail before engaging in some traditional bread and cheese making and with a sneaky tasting afterwards. Before lunch, perhaps take a wander through the local fields to the remains of the Auxendios church. The Karpass Peninsula is literally covered with abandoned churches, many have been left for years and have since been re-purposed as shelters for farm animals or simply left to fall in favour for new mosques. Enjoy a traditional village vegetarian meal for lunch, using local produce such as carob pekmez and zivania – a local firewater made from grape skins.Later in the afternoon, journey further along the Karpass to explore some of the area’s remote beaches and villages, keeping an eye out for donkeys in the countryside. Spend tonight at this seaside escape, a mere stone’s throw away from the Golden Sands.Perhaps talk to your Leader about a sunset Hike, arguably the best way to see the peninsular is on foot.
Day 6: Rizokarpaso
Emanating a certain rustic charm, this undeveloped slice of paradise on the remote Mediterranean coast is yours to explore today. Take a drive to the tip of the peninsula and visit the Apostolos Andreas Monastery. It’s thought that the monastery has stood here since Byzantine times, founded here during a journey to the Holy Land by Saint Andrew. Andrew went off course, becoming shipwrecked after striking the rocks here. A water spring gushed out of the location where the boat struck, miraculously healing the sight of the ship’s captain who had been blind in one eye. In modern times, the monastery has been under an extensive restoration program which leaves much of the location inaccessible to the public – however the church is still open for entry and the views from this location are stunning. The afternoon is free for you to spend as you wish, so perhaps spend some time relaxing at the beach or watching the local donkeys frolic around the landscape – please refrain from feeding them if you do.
Day 7: Famagusta
Wake up early and begin travelling towards Famagusta, stopping off at the ancient city of Salamis on the way. Once a thriving port city, Salamis served many dominant groups over the course of history including the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians and Romans. Continue on to St Barnabus’ Monastery, dedicated to St Paul’s good Cypriot friend Varnavas (Barnabas) who carried out missionary work on the island. After arriving in Famagusta (Gazimagusa-Turkish) in the early afternoon, check in to your hotel situated behind the massive iconic walls of the old city. Famagusta or Gazi to the locals is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean and a walk over the walls is much like wandering through an open-air museum. The beautiful cathedral of St Nicholas, refurbished and renamed to the Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque, is considered to be the centre-point of the city and marks the starting location of a guided walking tour. Explore the antiquates of this colourful city, leaning about the modern history of the region after the 1974 coup that split the island in half. As the night sets in, enjoy a farewell dinner this evening before sharing a cocktail in the Hamam bar with your new friends.
Day 8: Famagusta
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast today and no further activities are planned.
7 Breakfast(s) Included
2 Lunch(es) Included
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