North Cyprus is a secret gem, it has a lot happening for a country that does not exist. Not recognised by the United Nations, the Turkish-ruled half of the isle of Cyprus sits swathed in eastern Mediterranean sunshine and diplomatic uncertainty, divided into Greek southern Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus since 1973.
|Capital||Language||Monetary Unit||Population||Area||Time Zone||Passport / Visa|
|North Nicosia||Turkish||Lira||326,000||3,354 Sq. KM||GMT +2||No Visa|
The Turkish side has a beautiful, rugged coastline with turquoise seas and unruined beaches under deep blue skies. Its history is ancient with the Mycenaean Greeks, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Arabic Dynasties and Crusaders all having inhabited this island. This has left a rich tapestry of blended cultures as the East meets the West. Unsurprisingly this landscape is dotted with ruins and remains of these great civilisations both in the North and South of the island.
The Karpas Peninsula is the thumb of land that sticks out on the top right side of the island. As you travel east wards from Girne along the costal road, the urban chaos is soon left behind as you drive with the Mediterranean on one side and the Kyrenia mountains on the other side. It is one of the few places on the island that you feel that you are rewinding the clock to a lost era that time has forgotten. The roads weave between forgotten archaeological sites, ruined churches and sleepy villages. Locals sit outside their houses guarding their Arabic coffee, whilst donkey’s plod on along the verges watching as the tourists rush by.
In the Spring this landscape is covered in wildflowers whilst the hotter summer months the landscape seems burnt and barren with Olive Groves providing the shade whilst Cicada sing in the background. It is a wonderful place to relax and reconnect with nature.
It is also famous for the pristine white beaches and warm turquoise waters that play home to some of the Mediterranean’s most endangered sea creatures, the Sea Green and Loggerhead turtles.
The peninsula is also famous for its pristine white beaches and warm turquoise waters. These are the home to some of the Mediterranean’s most endangered sea creatures, the Sea Green and Loggerhead turtles. Because of overfishing, pollution, plastics and tourism, suitable nesting beaches are becoming rarer in North Cyprus.
The political situation in Cyprus, however, has helped these turtles. In 1991 the Society for the Protection of Turtles was founded in Northern Cyprus and every year international marine biology students come to do their residencies monitoring the laying and hatching of turtle eggs. Visitors can also see the turtles hatch at night and watch them as they scuttle towards the beach and start their life as a Master Mariner.
You need to be with a guide or with one of the volunteer groups. Most sites are not close to the car parks, therefore take good walking shoes. Once on the beach you will remain in place watching the hatching sites until dawn.
Watching the turtles hatch is mesmerising.
Level of Effort: 0/5
Take: Water, warm clothing, head torch, infra red flash for your camera.
When: Starts at 20.00hrs - 05.30hrs
Loggerhead turtles are thought to be one of the oldest species of turtle in the world and can weigh up to 450kg. They typically have a diet of jellyfish, squid, flying fish and molluscs as their powerful jaws allow them to crush the shells of clams, crabs and mussels. If a Loggerhead turtle reaches maturity, they can live a long life in excess of forty years. Via a combination of her instincts, the moon, gravity and the sea, a female turtle will return to lay her eggs on or near the beach where she was hatched, even if she has migrated thousands of miles throughout the oceans of the world.
SEA GREEN TURTLES
The Green Sea Turtle is also known as the Black Turtle, is named not by the colour of its shell but from the green fat beneath its skin. The Green Turtle is an herbivorous creature, feeding in lagoons and shallows on various species of sea grass. It is well known for its long migrations between their feeding grounds and the beaches upon which they hatched. The Green Turtles lay their eggs in a similar manner to the Loggerhead Turtles and other turtles of the world. Once they reach maturity, the Green Turtle can have a life span of around 80 years and grow to around 5 feet long, weighing around 70kg to 200kg on average.
This part of the Mediterranean has never been a destination choice for me, however having witnessed the tranquillity, sense of peace, authenticity, wonderful food, seeing the turtles and friendliness of the locals you can not help falling in love with this region. It is a wonderful way to recharge and ground yourself.