Our final 3 tops on Cyprus
Wednesday: On our sixth day on Cyprus, Anne and I were back on the trail. But before we got that far, we travelled 74km on A6 westbound, before getting on E606 northbound. After 24km, and passing Amargeti and Statos, we arrived at the monastery Agios Nikolaos-Moni Ton Iereon. We parked here.
We had expected that getting to the top of Vouni would be the easiest thing in the world, but we got off to a bad start. Instead of following the main road 270m to the north, and THEN get on the road leading up to the mountain plateau, we followed a gravel road from the monastery – which led us into a “backyard“. Rather than returning to the parking and try again, we decided to go off-trail – not expecting it to last for too long.
The thorns were pretty to look at, but not so nice to make contact with…
Eventually, we got onto the mountain road that we easily could have followed from the beginning, but at least now were on the right way!
After 3,5km of walking we reached the chapel on top of Vouni. It was called Profitis Ilias, of course. A story I had read somewhere – went something like this: Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias) was a sailor and experienced a very dramatic episode at sea, and decided to move onshore. He took an oar and started to head towards the mountains. Every time he met people, he asked “what am I carrying”. The answer was always “an oar”, and he kept moving on. When he finally met someone who replied “a piece of wood” and he could finally settle down, knowing that the sea was far, far away.
From the chapel, I could see another hilltop, 220m to the north. I decided to go over there while Anne stayed by the chapel. When I got there, the GPS indicated that this top could be slightly higher. But as the GPS can not be a trustworthy source when it comes to elevation, I was happy to let the chapel represent the high point of Vouni.
On our way down, Anne was a bit shocked to learn that I hadn’t discovered that there were grapevines *all around*. But now that she had brought the fact to my attention…
After a while, we got the town Pano Panagia in view. And further behind was Tripylos – representing the 3rd highest mountain region on Cypros. As we had already visited Olympos and Madari, it only made sense that we went for Tripylos as well.
Trip statistics: 7,7km, 300 vertical meters, 2 hours
Pictures (Canon 80D) from the hike:
Before we sat course for Tripolys, we drove to Pano Panagia to buy something to drink. This was somewhat against my will, because I presumed what would happen. Pano Panagia is not the hot spot on Cypros, and there was no guests at this cafe/restaurant. So, after ordering cold drinks, 3 generations of family came out to stare at us. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, from their perspective! This had happened to us before, on Crete, and I found it very awkward. They served us inedible cookies, and I felt bad for not wanting to order anything to eat. The old man could some basic English and lit up a bit when he understood that we were on our way to Tripylos. We could see the top from the cafe and was very enthusiastic about it. When we decided to leave, I felt bad for not leaving more money behind and as there was a little child, I went to the mother, gave her 10 Euro and asked her to buy something nice for the child. She understood, and they all thanked me so much. At least, I felt a little bit better…
In order to get to the Tripylos trailhead, we had to endure 18km on the most curvy road I’ve ever driven. If I had to drive here every day, I would have gone mental in record time.
But eventually we got to the trailhead, in the junction between the road from Pano Panagia and E740.
To our surprise, we found a mountain service road that – seemingly – ran all the way to the top. We were curious about why there was a road there.
As this was the region of Cedar Valley, it was only proper that the road to the top was decorated with cedar trees. They were stunning!
The road was there because there was a fire lookout tower on top. There was even a fire truck there!
There were three firemen on duty, busy with lunch and not interested in talking to tourists. But at least they answered my question; “why does the signpost say 1362m while my GPS said 1408m?” That’s a pretty big discrepancy. They could at least tell me that the signpost was wrong and that the summit was probably around 1420m. From a different source, I found 1410m and settled with that as the official height.
From here, we noticed a very distinct top – roughly halfway between Tripylos and Olympos. A quick check on the map revealed that we were looking at Throni Hill – and there was a road leading to the top. If the road was open to the public, I was happy to claim it as a “free bonus top“. Measured across 365 days, I’ve definitely earned a “free bonus top” once a year…
But first, we had t get back to the car…
Trip statistics: 5,6km, 260 vertical meters, 1,5 hours
Pictures (Canon 80D) from the hike:
Throni Hill (1318m)
After 18,3km on the continuing curvy road, we reached the parking on Throni Hill. We had absolutely no idea what we would find on top. We passed a huge monastery (Kykkos) down in the village, so we didn’t expect to find one on top.
But what met us at the top, really blew our minds!
It was a church, that much was clear. But the whole real estate was dedicated to icons. They were numerous, and I totally lost count.
We took a look inside the church, happy to see that women were allowed…
And the ceiling painting was a clear 10 on the wow-scale…
I’m not a religious guy, but I consider myself tolerant towards different cultures, as long as they are peaceful. And I do think that I can understand the basis for different views, even if they are quite different than mine. But this was 11 on a scale to 10. Not that you won’t find even more impressive buildings and religious art in other parts of the world, but this was on a fairly anonymous hill on Cyprus! I just didn’t expect to find anything like this *here*.
There is a lot a could write about this place, but you’re better off googling it.
This top concluded my quest for hill-bagging on Cyprus. I was quite happy with the outcome – 7 new tops in 6 days. There was never any chance that I could reach my Fuerteventua numbers (27 tops in a week) or Lanzarote (41 tops in a week), because Cyprus has a different topology. You just can’t go anywhere you please, mainly because of bush.
Trip statistics: 1,2km, 50 vertical meters, 0,5 hours
Pictures (Canon 80D) from the visit: