Excursion to Akamas Forest Park
Undeniably, a visit to Ineia requires a trip to the nearby Akamas National Forest. If you want to explore the western coast of Akamas, you can follow one of the routes towards Lara, described in Lara, and then follow the coastal road towards Akamas National Forest Park.
At a short distance into the sea, there are some secluded rocks known to the locals as ‘Karavopetres’ (ship rocks), which are part of the administrative boundaries of Ineia. According to another tradition, the monastery of Panagia tou Vlou (Virgin Mary of the Blind) was located somewhere in the area. Today, only the chapel of Panagia tou Vlou remains – a remnant of the old monastery. According to the legend, when the monastery was looted by the corsairs, Virgin Mary could not bear the disgrace, so she turned the ships into rocks, which now lie petrified in the sea.
After the ’Karavopetres’, further along the coastal road you will discover another road on your right; if you follow it for about 6km, you will reach Smigies, which is a beautiful little valley surrounded by pine and cypress trees and Lentisk, with a large picnic site.
The rich biodiversity and the other natural elements of Akamas region, as well as the importance of their protection, have led to its declaration as a National Forest Park. The whole region, as we have noted above, has been declared a Protected Area following its inclusion in the Natura 2000 network.
According to the Department of Forests, there are approximately 650 native plants recorded in Akamas, representing 40% of the total flora of Cyprus. Out of these, 43 are endemic to the island. Two of them are actually local endemics (Centaurea akamantis and Tulipa akamasica). There is also a record of 28 endangered species (according to the ‘Red Book of the Flora of Cyprus’). Four of the endangered species are limited to Akamas (Arbutus unedo, Bellium minutum, Tulipa akamasica, and Centaurea akamantis), and some of the rest are quite populated on the peninsula (Alyssum akamasicum, Euphorbia thompsonii, and Taraxacum aphrogenes).
The Akamas Peninsula is also rich in fauna. The area is one of the main migratory destinations of Cyprus and is of great importance for many bird species. Around 152 migratory species have been recorded to date, while around 15 bird species are classified as permanent residents of the area. There are also around 15 species of bats in the area, as well as the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), and of course the Loggerhead turtle and Green turtle.