The world's latest craze!
A lot to see and explore in Cyprus
As more people become aware of the fragility of the planet, so Eco-Tourism becomes more popular. The damage that can be done, by carbon emissions and the devastation of the rain forests, are just two examples of the destructive impact created by mankind. Natural resources have been eroded and as the population of the world increases, so do the demands upon nature, but the damage can be ameliorated, it is rectifiable. Maybe not in a hurry, but as more people take an interest in Eco or Sustainable tourism, a difference can be made to the future of the earth. But what exactly is Eco-Tourism, and how can it benefit North Cyprus?
Eco-Tourism is the tourism that is ecologically friendly and leaves no scars on the landscape of the host country. It is also called “Green Tourism” again with the emphasis on looking after the environment, conserving natural areas, learning about the local people, their activities, lifestyle and welfare.
The people who promote Eco-Tourism have a motto, “take only photographs, and leave nothing behind but your footprints.”
Protect The Turtles
There are areas of sustainable Eco-Tourism in North Cyprus that encompass the conservation of the Green and Loggerhead turtles. In their nesting areas there are no large hotels, but there are plenty of small family run ‘pansiyons’ and holiday villages specially designed to cater for the visitor who wants to take back memories of a holiday with a difference.
Saving the Donkeys
There are miles of nature trails through the mountains and the National Park of the Karpaz Peninsula where the wild donkeys roam peacefully among the juniper bushes.
There are huts on stilts where visitors can be as close to nature as they wish. Right on the sea shore if that is their desire, with only the light of the moon and stars, and the serenade of the sea to lull them to sleep.
Of course not all aspects of village life are the same as they were a hundred years ago, The donkey that was once called the “Cyprus tractor” has now been replaced by genuine tractors and work gets done a little faster. However there are still many “small village” traditions; there are olives to gather and process for their oil. There are goats and cows to be milked and their product turned into yogurt and cheese. Villagers still earn a living from the pursuit of these domestic chores and in addition they will weave cotton, and make a variety of baskets from the local reed. Baskets that will vary in size from the small ones that are used during the process of making hellim cheese, to a basket large enough to hold a good supply of logs for the fire.
Local Cypriot crafts
In the North Cyprus village of Buyukkonuk Eco-Tourism is being developed in a traditional setting. Situated at a midway point between the two coasts of the Karpaz peninsula, it is surrounded by verdant fields, olive groves, citrus orchards, and is central to an area that is abundantly rich in flora and fauna. In addition to the diversity of its natural assets, Buyukkonuk has been selected as the pilot project for a scheme that will develop Eco-Tourism in the Karpaz region and eventually become part of a “Global Eco-Village Network.”
The Buyukkonuk Eco-Tourism Association extends a warm welcome to everyone who visits their village. In the Eco-Tourism Visitor Centre, or at the Delcraft Centre on the opposite side of the road, there is always someone to give advice or explain how village crafts are made. These crafts may encompass bread making, weaving, basket making etc. Woodworking, using the natural resources that are sustainable, for example olive wood that is a by-product of the tree when it is regularly pruned, cheese making and some of the delicious dishes that are part of truly Cypriot cuisine, dishes that are so often cooked in the large clay ovens to be found in the gardens of most village houses. Recipes that have been handed down through generations and are not to be found in town restaurants. There are activity days when demonstrations are given on bread and cheese making. These are very rewarding especially as participants get a chance to sample the finished products!
Wonderful local produce
The village has its own olive mill that is run as a co-operative. This is a modern mechanised mill, a long way in evolution from the old mills that were powered by donkey. One of the original mills has been restored with a grant from USAID and is open to the public. On display is an example of the wheel that crushed the olives, and the press which extracted the oil. There are also photographic exhibition boards detailing the history of olive growing from 2500BC, and the stages of the restoration process.
In the olive harvest season that covers the months of September to November the village mill is a hive of activity as everyone who owns a few trees gathers their olives and brings them for crushing. Olive oil is such an important part of the Cypriot diet that a house without a supply of oil to last it through the year is a poor one indeed.
In addition to the production of olive oil, there is another all-important commodity that has been produced in Cyprus for hundreds of years. The black treacle-like syrup called ‘pekmez’ that is made from the carob pod that has been crushed and boiled in water into a reduction. It is then bottled and used in a variety of dishes from soups and stews to a spread for ice-cream.
The Historical Architecture tells of the mysteries
The island has a rich and historical mix of architecture. There are many traditional arched houses and numerous churches. There are narrow streets to explore, from one side of the island to the other.
In particular the great cities of Nicosia (Lefkosa), Famagusta (Gazimagusa) and Kyrenia (Girne), hold fascinating relics and ruins that span back to the beginning of time! Historically they under-pin physically the famous wars and ownership of the island.
Whether it is Nicosia's "Ledra Castle" and its cobbled streets and street traders, restaurants and shops, "Famagusta's Castle", with its moat and the working city that still continues to this day, or Kнrenia's "Bellapais Abbey" and "St. Hillarion Castle ruins" mounted at the highest point about the city and amazing harbour! There is much to do, between the beach and pool resort that you have as a base.
There is however one day of the year when this rule does not apply and that is the day in October that is designated Eco Day!
Buyukkonuk village holds a one day festival incorporating as many village traditions as is possible to find time for, including folk dancing and local music, stalls selling local goods that will range from agricultural products and home made food, cotton headscarves, dog baskets, log baskets, bread baskets etc.
Cyprus has something for everyone
The committed hedonist who comes to sun worship, the botanist in search of rare specimens, bird watchers who come specifically during the migratory period hoping for that ‘once in a lifetime’ glimpse of the bird that has always eluded them.
Certainly, you will return to your lives clear of mind and healthier!
There are a host of all different types of "eco-trips" upon request.