Paphos hosts several sites of superb natural beauty. More specifically, in the Akamas National Park, there are many landscapes that attract the interest of both nature researchers and people who are interested in coming closer to nature while exploring our beautiful island.
In the Akamas Peninsula, within the forest of Pegeia, lies the most impressive and renowned gorge of Cyprus, the “Avakas Gorge”. This particular gorge is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Cypriot nature and a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Thousands of visitors rush to visit it every year because of the scenery’s beauty and tranquility as created by the great artist of all time…nature.
The canyon is accessed by a path that stretches along the Avgas riverbed and is surrounded by thick vegetation. Walking down the path, it suddenly narrows, and you will find yourself surrounded by high cliffs which are basically the entrance of the gorge. Initially, the height is about 45m and as you move forward it reaches 150m height. The water in the river flows all year round and is the “life giver” of the dense vegetation. The closer you get to the deep inside of the gorge, the narrower the access. The route is 1.5 kilometers long till the trail ends. For the more adventurous types, the journey can be continued, but caution is advised as there are many rocks and natural obstacles that you will need to pass through. This wonderful route ends at the bank of the river, among the wonderful vineyards of Pano Arodes village.
The canyon area is characterized by rich biodiversity with wide variety of flora and fauna species such as foxes, frogs, rabbits, eels and a fairly large variety of birds. The place is a “paradise” for bird watchers, as the true lovers of the “sport”, visit the area every year.
For the casual visitors, the gorge is an oasis of beauty, relaxation and coolness, especially during the hot summer months. The combination of running water, cool air and absolute tranquility is best suited for someone who wants to get closer to nature. The serenity of the area is intertwined with the name of the canyon since “Avakis” in ancient Greek means speechless which translates into a location full of tranquility and silence.
The smells of flowers, shrubs, soil are very intense, capable of awakening primitive human instincts and reminding us of our old relationship with nature. The variety of colors offered by the different vegetation types is astonishing and there are times when the landscape looks unreal. Narrow sharp limestone walls, rocks hanging overhead as they swing, shrubs with huge branches sprouting in the most incredible places.
In order to reach the gorge, you must follow Pafou – Agios Georgios Pegia Street. From there, enter the Akamas National Park, following the dirt road for about 2.5Km, until reaching the bay of Toxeftra and following the right diversion, either by car or on foot for another 900 meters, you will reach the specially designed parking lot. The entrance to the canyon is well hidden by lush citrus orchards that is giving you a first taste of what follows.
Visiting the canyon, however, requires careful attention and respect. During the winter, the “Avgas” river can become rapid and quite dangerous. Also, during heavy rain there is a possibility of rock slipping. The balance of fauna and flora in the area is particularly sensitive, which is why it is strictly forbidden to cut bushes and flowers, generate intense noise while requiring great care with the management of each visitor’s rubbish. The area is presently kept fairly clean so it must remain.
Therefore, if you are a lover of botany, geology, bird watching, or nature in general and you want to get closer to natural surroundings and places, don’t forget to visit the Avakas Gorge.
Photos: Maria Papanikola