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Grand tour - Jeep Safari

Grand tour - Jeep Safari

Grand tour - Jeep Safari

Grand tour - Jeep Safari

Grand tour - Jeep Safari

Duration: 8 hours

Location: Lefkara and Troodos

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Grand tour - Jeep Safari


Do crowds or strangers put you off? Would you rather enjoy a trip with a small group of fun loving people you know and like? Aphrodite Tours has laid on a special jeep trip called the GRAND TOUR− JEEP SAFARI, where you will visit Lefkara, Laneia, drive through the Troodos mountain range stopping intermittently for wine tasting, Kykkos Monastery followed by a break for dinner, Astromeritis, Larnaca, Ayia Napa, finally ending up at Protaras. It is one of Aphrodite Tours quick trips around Cyprus.

This Aphrodite Tour in and around Cyprus has been nominated a Grand Tour as it is a Safari in a jeep, and it takes you into the very heartland of the country, bypassing major cities and visiting villages that are a remnant of Cyprus’ unique history, yet demonstrate a unique and fiercely Cypriot independence. This jeep excursion in Cyprus starts with a 30-minute visit to a small yet dominant village, Lefkara.

Lefkara is famous for its lace, known as lefkaritika, as well as silver handicraft. The village takes its name from the chalky white ground caused by the presence in abundance of silica and limestone. Lefkara is derived from a combination of the Greek words ‘lefka’ (Greek for white) and ‘ori’ (Greek for mountains and hills). Sightseeing in Cyprus would pale into insignificance were Lefkara left out of your itinerary. It is a complete answer to the mundane query of what to see in Cyprus.

It is located on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains in the Larnaca District of Cyprus, off the main Nicosia-Limassol highway. It features ancient cobbled streets and picturesque architecture, and for a village with only 1,100 inhabitants, it is surprisingly split into two administrative regions: upper and lower Lefkara. Was this because of the dominance, ages ago, of two leaders who couldn’t see eye to eye on local issues? Was it because one half was given away as dowry? The shrouded haziness of time hides the answer effectively. What strikes you almost as soon as you drive on the cobbled streets is the number of small cluster of women who sit in the narrow village streets working on their fine embroidery, as they have for centuries. The village is also known for its skilled silversmiths who produce delicate filigree work.

In an amazing quirk of history, this village was apparently the largest town in Cyprus in the 16th century. Why it regressed into the mist of obscure anonymity is not known. A folklore museum in the town shows visitors what life was like in Cyprus a hundred years ago. The almost contemporaneous museum is located in a restored house and exhibits the furniture and effects of a wealthy family, local costumes and examples of the Lefkara lacework. The lefkaritika style was probably imported to the village from antiquity from Assyria, gaining prominence once a local lace school was opened in 1889. Legend has it that Leonardo da Vinci visited the village in 1481 to purchase a lace cloth for the main altar of the Duomo di Milano in Italy. World War II forced an abrupt end to the sale of embroidery, which never recovered fully, though the budding tourism industry brought some of its artisans back to resume lefkaritika and silver filigree work.

Continuing the excursion, you will stop for 40 minutes in the small traditional village of Laneia, in the hills of the wine making region of Limasol. The village probably got its name from Lana, the daughter of Dionysos, the God of wine. Another possibility is that the name was derived from the acorn tree ‘ba lania’. The former version seems more likely as this village is well known for its wine and the penchant for imbibing it. The village is about 25 km north of Limasol on the road to the Troodos Mountains, at an altitude of 575 metres above sea level. Its altitude provides great views for tourists. On a downslope facing south, its white chalky soil offers ideal conditions for growing grapes for producing top quality wines.

Laneia village nestles in the Camanderia wine region of Cyprus. Laneia is indubitably the prettiest village on Troodos Road. Typically narrow lanes, with roads a donkey width, Laneia is made up of ancient stone houses and cottages. We will approach the village from the South, park at the lower end, and walk through flowered lanes past the museum, winery and olive presses. Most tours around Cyprus have a scheduled stopover here.

An interesting historical fact about the propensity for wine in Laneia is that Henry I, Count of Champagne in France from 1152 to 1181 had visited the village during the middle of the 12th century in search of a new breed of grape vines to replace his own due to a fungus that destroyed his entire crop. A shrewd oenophile, he had elected to take Champagne district as his inheritance from his father, subsequent to the latter’s demise. Laneia and the neighboring areas provided him with a suitable replacement. That variety of grape still exists, contributing to the production of Champagne in France. Archeological artifacts dated circa 1050 –750 BC show this village to be at least 3,000 years old.

Moreover, there are clear indications Laneia was an important settlement for the miners during the peak of copper production in Cyprus around 1600 BC.

This village has a rich religious background and forms part of religious tours as well. An important legacy of Laneia is its church, built during the 17th century in honour of Panagia Chrysospiliotissa. The 12th century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary of Valana in the Church is believed to have miraculous powers. A pair of wooden carved boards depicting the scene of Adam and Eve with the serpent offering the forbidden fruit is also kept there, reportedly dating back to the 12th century.

Several artists live here, and old houses are being renovated in the original style all the time. Festivals are held regularly through the year. Laneia courtyards are a riot of flowers almost all year round. April, May and June, September and October are lovely months to visit. Laneia has a selection of local Tavernas, and a glorious Church in the main square. It is one of the places to see in Cyprus if en route to Troodos.

Apart from wine making, the locals also produce olive oil. Laneia has an olive press next to the church with large traditional circular stones. In recent times oil making has become mechanized, and the press is utilised to make soutziouko. Soutziouko is a sweet made of almonds and grape juice, sometimes incorrectly defined as a grape syrup with or without almonds.

You will then continue through the woods and villages of Troodos. Tavernas invite you in at almost every turn in the road, from Limassol to Troodos and beyond. You will stop at the better known Tavernas en route to taste Cypriot wine. The Cypriot wine industry ranks 37th in the world in terms of total production quantity (37,500 tonnes) and much higher on a per capita basis. It is best known for Commandaria wine, as well as wines made from local grapes such as Mavro and Xynisteri. Whenever an opportunity for a snapshot arises, we will stop for a photoshoot. It will serve as a reminder of the places to see in Cyprus.

While driving through Troodos’ picturesque mountains, you will stop almost two thirds the way up, stopping at the elegantly crafted inspection platform, just off the main road, for about ten minutes as this is probably the best located place to capture the Cypriot natural world in your camera. The platform itself is worth a close look.

You will proceed to the famous Monastery of Kykkos, the richest and most lavish of the monasteries of Cyprus, which is in the Marathasa region. It is situated on a mountain peak, at an altitude of 1318 metres, northwest of Troodos. That peak is known by the name Throni or Throni of Panagia. The monastery was built by Alexios I Comnenus (Byzantine emperor) about the 11th century and has great historical value. Dedicated to Panagia, it possesses a miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, painted by Apostle Luke the Evangelist. The icon, covered in silver gilt, is in a shrine made of tortoise shell and mother - of - pearl that stands in front of the iconostasis.

There is a wonderful story about how the icon came here. Blessed with divine grace, Cypriot hermit Esaias miraculously cured the emperor of an incurable illness in the 12th century. As a reward, he asked for the icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) that was kept at the imperial palace at Constantinople. The emperor reluctantly agreed and also had a monastery built where the sacred relic would be kept. The emperor’s representative in Cyprus also endowed the monastery with three villages. It is one the places to see in Cyprus, and Aphrodite Tours recognises this fact.

The monastery was ravaged four times by fires and raided by looters, but each time the icon was miraculously saved. Today, the monastery is a museum. The first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, served in the monastery as a novice. This monastery /museum is a major tourist attraction in Cyprus.

The Museum of the Holy Monastery of Kykkos is substantially different from modern museums. It isn’t completely separate from the functional space of the items it exhibits and neither is it a museum that contains exhibits only on the strength of their artistic value as are the museums of ancient art. It is a museum situated inside the monastery itself and like its treasury it forms an integral part of it. Its exhibits such as icons, holy objects, woodcarvings, vestments, embroideries, manuscripts, etc., are exhibited as part of the living adoration and the history of the monastery.

The Museum contains invaluable religious relics which have been collected by the zeal and piety of the monks, objects that have overcome the ravages of time, objects full of meaning and history. Visitors who come to the Holy Monastery of Kykkos for worship and contemplation and who visit the Museum can come across the piety that inspired the exhibits and they can also get to know some of the history of the Monastery in particular and of the Cyprus Church in general. This portion may be taken as the religious part of this Aphrodites Tours Safari.

The guided tour will last approximately 30 minutes, followed by free time to rest and have dinner, approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Dinner is not included in the cost of this excursion.

The next site, Astromeritis, is a village in Nicosia district. Its altitude is 160 meters in the Plain of Mesaoria or Plain of Morfou as it is also known, some 30 km away from the capital of the island. Some of the villages in the vicinity are Peristerona, Potami and the occupied villages Zodia and Katokopia. The village appears in the Venetian maps as Astromoriti. A 20-minute halt is scheduled here.

Most of the inhabitants are farmers, but many others work in the capital. The factory SEDIGEP is responsible for the manufacture and packaging of agricultural products and has contributed to the agricultural development not only of the village but also of the entire area. There is also a factory that manufactures clothes. These factories have provided jobs to many inhabitants of the village. The main agricultural products are grain, potatoes, citrus fruits, melons and water melons (during summer).

You can see the church of Saint Afxivios on a hillock in the centre of the village. Every year there is the protest march of Morfou. This protest march aims to remind the Turks of the opposition to their occupation and the demand to leave. From the village you can see the illegitimately occupied land of Cyprus which is waiting for its owners to come back. There are also two memorial monuments; the Georgios Karyos Monument built in the memory of the crippled Georgios Karyos, who was killed on the night of 18th October 1958 in an ambush against the Turks. The Morphou Heroes Monument remembers all who were killed resisting the Turks.

You should be in Larnaca by 1700 hrs. Larnaca, known as Kition earlier is famous for the Church of St. Lazarus, the friend of Christ and the first Bishop of Kition, Cyprus. Interestingly, the friendship of St. Lazarus with Jesus Christ is commemorated as ‘The Feast of St. Lazarus’ and always held on the Saturday before Palm Sunday during Easter week.

The Church of St. Lazarus in Larnaca has been known to the Christian world since the old times; it was considered an indispensable supplement to the pilgrimage of the Holy Land. Many illness were healed and other miracles were performed here, according to Pietro Della Valle, a Roman nobleman and traveler who visited Larnaca in 1614-1626. Its importance as a great pilgrimage centre has been strengthened after the discovery of part of the sacred relics of the Saint in a marble sarcophagus under the altar on 02 November 1972, during renovation of the Church. A spring exists here and its water is considered holy with the power of healing. It adds depth to one of the places to see in Cyprus.

You should be in Ayia Napa, a resort at the far eastern end of the southern coast of Cyprus by 1730 hrs. According to local legend, the now renowned icon was accidentally discovered by a hunter in pursuit of his prey. Upon discovery, the icon of the Virgin Mary was called Virgin Mary of Napa, and now known as Ayia Napa. The present monastery of 1500 AD was built around the cave, in honour of the Virgin Mary of Ayia Napa. According to local tradition, until 1790 AD, no one lived within the vicinity of Ayia Napa. The first inhabitants who actually appeared and settled were twenty men from Salonica, Greece. It is a town of Famagusta District, in the remaining southern part of the district not occupied by Turkish forces. Ayia Napa is about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Protaras, where the Safari terminates. If you want to know what to do in Cyprus, visit Ayia Napa after dark.

Protaras is a predominantly tourist resort which comes under the administrative jurisdiction of Paralimni Municipality in Cyprus. In ancient times, the old city-state of Leukolla stood where Protaras is now located. Protaras is a purpose-built resort on the southeastern coast of Cyprus. The reason it’s here is the sandy patchwork of beaches that blankets the rugged coastline – which is a real draw in itself for the scenic walks. It’s a fairly compact place, so you’ll find the lively bars and restaurants right on the main street. Beaches on this part of the coast are thought to be the island’s best. The resort’s main one, Fig Tree Bay, comes with a raft of watersports and a little island you can swim out to. There are five other quality beaches round here.

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Excellent Bus Tour. My husband and I booked seats on Aphrodite Tours to go on the Famagusta Day Trip as we have always been interested in what happened after the Turkish Invasion. This was like a dream come true. The nearest we got previously was seeing Famagusta from a boat. This trip was simply amazing. The guide was a walking encyclopedia. He told us things we never knew and showed us things we didn't think we would ever see. Highly recommended.

Katherine Nichipurenko
Red Bus Tour

The best bar in Aiya Napa! Great combination of everything you need! Can't wait to go back there and spice up my holiday! Once you go there it will make you repeat it again...and again. Great atmosphere and location, friendly staff, variety of good music...and ...soooo nice cocktails. I'm a Pepper fan for life and if you are in Napa, you must get addicted as well. Thank you ever so much, Aphrodite Tours for recommending this out of this world place.

Ivan Skornyakov
Grand Tour Jeep Safari

Excellent traditional food! We were introduced to this pub by Aphrodite Tours on a stopover during a daylong trip in December 2012. Had a great experience! This time too, we chose Aphrodite Tours for our excursions in Cyprus and fortunately, we were lucky to find this pub unchanged. The food was amazing, the place was great; it is also a non smoking zone inside. Cozy table next to the fire place. Fair prices, value for money, traditional home made wine; my husband went for delicious steaks but I recommend the traditional cuisine. The service was excellent both times. We must thank Aphrodite Tours for this trip.

Ades Smith
Village Pub, Kakopetria, Cyprus