It’s the peninsula circled in blue that juts out from Cyprus’s northeast that gives the island its unique shape. But anyone who has visited this undeveloped haven of beauty knows it’s more than just a peninsula.
The first thing you notice when you get to Karpaz is its greenery. Cyprus is relatively green, but Karpaz is naturally extra green. The landscape is covered in olive trees, shrubbery, and raw awesomeness.
Though the Turkish and Greek Cypriots are separated by a UN-run Green Zone, with the Turkish Cypriots living north of the line and the Greek Cypriots living south of the line, there is still an enclave of Greek Cypriots living in Karpaz. I don’t know if they were unable to escape during the 1974 scuffle that led to the island’s division, or if the land was just too beautiful to leave.
When I visited Cyprus in 2006 there wasn’t enough time to visit Karpaz. This time I visited the week before departure. I don’t know if I’d say the best was saved for last since Cyprus is so full of awesome things to see, experience, and eat, but this was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Cyprus.
Camping In Karpaz
My friend Adil and I set off to Karpaz to camp on the beach. I didn’t really know what to expect, as usual, but Karpaz didn’t disappoint!
We set off with the car and some supplies and hit the open road. It was nice to see the scenery change as we got to Karpaz and drive past so many villages. We stopped in one village and saw the town’s church, long abandoned as the Greek Cypriots of this village left due to the events of 1974, and the mosque.
Sunset And Dinner
Adil knew a great place to stay, a secluded beach in the middle of nowhere. We arrived just before sunset – just enough time to set up camp and gather what we needed for the evening. We brought the stuff down to the beach from the car, gathered dried wood that has washed up on the beach from the sea, picked up lots of garbage that drifted to the beach from the sea, and made a fire.
We made an awesome dinner: halloumi sandwiches (pita bread, halloumi cheese, tomato, cucumber), grilled peppers, and grilled corn. It was awesome and exactly what we needed after a long day and lots of physical effort in setting up the camp.
At one point, while we tried to start the lamp we had, I burnt the part that glows. There were more in the car and Adil went to go and get them. While he was gone I laid back and looked up at the stars. Though it had been dark for a while at that point, I hadn’t noticed the stars. Given the isolation, lower level of chemical and light pollution, and spot on earth, the view of the stars is truly incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a fantastic view of the stars before and I saw my first shooting star. The whole sky was full of them!
It was impossible not to be inspired by them, and to think about heavier topics like how vast the universe is, how small we are both as a planet and as individuals, how beautiful nature and life are, etc. It was very humbling and it was a reminder with impeccable timing.
At sunrise it got very warm very fast. We erected a small cover open on all four sides to block the sun. Still, since it was sunrise the shadow our cover cast was quite distant. As the sun rose, we had to move our sleeping bags down until we were finally underneath the cover.
We had breakfast (halloumi, vegetables, bread, and fruit) and then went for a swim. The water’s temperature was perfect and the sea was light blue at the shore and dark blue about 30m/100ft from the shore. It was beautiful.
With goggles and a snorkel I swam and explored. There weren’t as many fish as I thought there would be, but the ones I did find were fantastically colorful. As someone who didn’t grow up near an ocean, it’s just fascinating to see all the life in the sea. Rocks grow flowers and vegetation, seaweed sways back and forth in harmony with the waves, and schools of fish move about together. Again, a very humbling experience full of beauty.
On The way back to Nicosia we stopped at an old monastery. Then we stopped in a village where some of Adil’s relatives live. They were all sitting outdoors on the porch as the sun began its descent to escape the indoor heat. As we arrived, they pulled up chairs for us, they all talked, gave us coffee, and treated us to wonderful village/Cypriot hospitality. It was the perfect way to end this adventure.