Thursday, 6 September 2012

Larnaca Salt Lake Trail Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 3.85 km (2.4 miles), terrain completely flat

Article and photos by John Griffith

Thanks to John for another exotic route -- hope to get there soon! For more of John's routes, see the Route List

An island of two halves, I just spent 10 days in the half (well, 65%) which is Greek Cyprus. I was hosted by Greek Cypriot and firm friend Stavros and his lovely wife Maroulla in Larnaca but with a loaned Honda plus a free beach villa we got to see a lot from the glamorous Anassa hotel in Latchi in the West to the listening posts of Cape Grecko and fleshpots of Agia Napa in the East via the Turkish front line in Nicosia.

Sharing a holiday in Cyprus with a native is a unique experience.  One is as obliged to learn the history. Stav fought for independence and was wounded in 1974 and we saw his village (Kythrea) from the border as we stood on a bunker in Nicosia to view it. We felt his pain.
Looking towards Kythrea from bunker in Nicosia
Cypriots are friendly; each citizen has a thousand cousins all of whom will invite you to dinner.  A barby for a Cypriot involves a whole sheep and a Fish Meze will feed a small platoon for a week. Eating is obligatory at all times.

Cloudless blue skies bore a fierce sun, and running conditions were not ideal as midday temp was around 40 degrees every day. But I managed one early morning sortie (temp a cool 27 degrees at 6.30am) which took in a Venetian aqueduct and a bamboo forest skirting a massive salt lake.
The Venetians got thirsty too
The Salt Lake was a commercial source of sea salt until not long ago but is now a bird sanctuary for flamingoes who eat the shrimps. You'd have expected mosquitoes but the authorities spray the area periodically and none were in evidence despite perfect conditions!

The route is about 4k point to point and mainly flat bar a couple of inclines from which you can see the entire lake which is usually dry in July and August.  The path itself is forgiving and well maintained so its a lovely jog early in the morning through the tall bamboo grass.

There is much talk of property in Cyprus and many Cypriots (those that can) buy or inherit plots for themselves or their children.  Land and property prices have soared since the troubles but the rental market is in the doldrums.  Cyprus has some amazing beaches (many of the best ones in the Turkish North) and if you take the trouble to go inland to the mountains you can ski in winter on Troodos Mountain or pick cherries there in spring.
Shrimpers on the salt lake
When you’ve explored a little history inland, check out top hotels Anassa in Latchi and Grecian Park at Konnos Beach near Protaras. Shop in Nicosia but never at midday.  Eat Koulouri bread and fish meze at Zephyros in Larnaca. Drink Keo beer followed by Zivania and party till dawn at Agia Napa.  Smile and say “Yasas” a lot.