Kionia – Prophitis Elias – 21 Nov.

Our excursion of Saturday 21 November 2020 takes us to Mahairas forest. This route in the Mahairas forest is part of the E4 footpath, the European Path that goes from Cyprus to Portugal. It is well signposted and was chosen to show the best of the Cyprus mountains, so is very beautiful. It is linear and over 15 km long from its start, the Kionia picnic site to the Monastery of Prophitis Elias (Prophet Elijah) and back (i.e. 7 ½ km each leg). The forward leg is all downhill, the return all uphill, with 500 metres of altitude change. Not surprisingly, it is graded 3+, or very difficult, so more of a challenge than most of our walks. The duration of the hike is about five hours, including stops, so you are urged to carry plenty of water and hiking poles.

The hike starts at 10:00 am. Antonis is leading the hike, which will go ahead even in light rain; if you need to, call 97803728.

Depending on the government restrictions on the day, we shall follow the walk with a served lunch or a picnic. Kindly visit this page in the week prior to the activity for updated news. In the case of lunch, this will take place at a restaurant of our choice in the area. In case of picnic, this will take place at the Kionia picnic site, which provides water, tables and toilets.

To provide you with maximum safety vis-à-vis covid-19, and in order to have maximum traceability, we require every participant to register, irrespective of your participation at lunch or not. To facilitate arrangements, for your better service, you are required to sms the walk leader or e-mail Xenophon by end Thursday, indicating whether you will be joining us for lunch or not.

You have the choice of meeting the group at the hike start, or meet at the designated meeting point in Nicosia. In either case, you need to carry copy of this set of instructions. The meeting point in Nicosia is the Handicrafts Centre (Kentro Heirotechnias) on Leoforos Athalassas (Athalassa Avenue), which offers ample parking space. The car trip starts at 8:45 am. Please ensure you observe start times, for the benefit of the group.

How to get to the walk start: Get to the round-about next to the Presidential Palace. From downtown Nicosia you reach this along the Kyriakou Matsi avenue or along the D. Severi avenue. Set your odometer to zero on the round-about and drive along the principal road towards Strovolos and then Lakatamia. At the 4.2 km reading you reach the main crossing with the major bypass road (named Spyrou Kyprianou avenue) linking Makedonitissa on your right with the Nicosia-Limassol highway on your left. This is the popular by-pass road which drives past the Jumbo toy store and the American Heart hospital. Traffic coming from the Presidential Palace can follow the tunnel that dives under this main crossing. There is a large Metro super market on your left at this main crossing, as well. Set your odometer to zero at this main crossing and continue straight, towards Lakatamia. At the 1.5 km reading you drive past the very large church of Agia Paraskevi on your right hand side. At the 1.9 km reading you reach a round-about. Take the 3rd exit, which is at right angles to your right. At the 2.1 km reading you drive past a Lidl supermarket on your left hand side. At the 2.5 km reading you reach traffic lights (the first traffic lights after the round-about). There is a Papa John’s pizza house at the corner on your right. Turn left at the traffic lights, following the sign towards Mahairas. You drive straight along this main road for many km, going through the villages of Lakatamia, then Deftera, then Psimolophou, then Pera Orinis, where the road begins to ascend. Be mindful of road humps in each village. At the 15.4 km reading you drive through the village of Kampia. At the 20.1 km reading you drive past a sign indicating the village of Kapedes. Immediately after (20.2 km) you reach a round-about. Take the 4th exit to the right, following the sign to Mahairas (the Monastery is a further 13 km away). The road ascends. At the 24.1 km reading you reach a large picnic site, with tables and benches on either side. It is named Mandra Kampiou. You drive along the main road. At the 27.5 km reading you drive past the church of Agios Onoufrios on your right hand side. At the 31.3 km reading you reach a junction. Do not turn right (a road that takes you to the Monastery of Mahairas). Go straight for another couple of km, until you reach the Kionia picnic site, with a telecommunications white sphere above it, which you have been seeing while traveling. Park your car on the side of the road. The walk starts here, at an altitude of 1200 m.

How to get from Limassol to the hike start:

Drive along the Limassol – Nicosia motorway, heading towards Nicosia. Exit the motorway at exit number 13, following signs to Skarinou and Lefkara. Zero your odometer as you exit the motorway. Be very careful at the 19 km reading to observe a sharp turning to the right and up; you leave the main road (which leads to Vavatsinia village) at this point, and turn right; the signs indicate Kionia and Mahairas as your direction. 2.3 km further up on this road (i.e. approx. at the 21.3 km reading) you pass a forestry department wooden post on your right hand side; continue straight uphill for another 5 km, until (approx. at the 26 km reading) you reach a junction, with signs indicating a left turn towards the village of Agioi Vavatsinias and straight ahead to Kionia; continue straight and after another 3 km (approx. at the 29 km reading) you arrive at the Kionia picnic area. Park your car on either side of this road. We meet here.

How to get to the meeting point for the car trip, coming from the Landmark (formerly Hilton) hotel area:

Get yourself on Makarios Avenue, heading out of town and set your odometer to zero as you drive past the Landmark (formerly Hilton) hotel. At the 0.1 km reading you reach traffic lights (with the Apoel club building on your right), go straight. At the 0.5 km reading you reach another set of traffic lights, go straight. Driving along, you pass a few more traffic lights, staying on this main road (named Leoforos Lemesou/ Limassol Avenue). At the 2.1 km reading, you reach a principal set of traffic lights. Set your odometer to zero again and turn right here. You are now in Leoforos Athalassas, a very busy avenue. At the 0.2 km reading you see a large empty space on your right and the Handicrafts Centre (a single-storey building) on your left. Park in the parking area. We meet here. The Handicrafts Centre is next to the church of St. Barnabas.

How to get to the meeting point for the car trip, coming from the Presidential Palace area:

Get to the round-about next to the Presidential Palace. From downtown Nicosia you reach this along the Kyriakou Matsi avenue or along the D. Severi avenue. Set your odometer to zero on the round-about and drive along the principal road towards Strovolos. At the 0.3 km reading you reach traffic lights. Go straight. At the 0.6 km reading you reach a 2nd set of traffic lights. Set your odometer to zero again and turn left. You are now in Leoforos Athalassas, a very busy avenue full of shops. At the 2.6 km reading you see a large empty space on your left and the Handicrafts Centre (a single-storey building) on your right. Park here.

Google Maps: Here is a map for those coming from the Landmark (formerly Hilton) area to the meeting place for the car trip http://tinyurl.com/phjc6s7

Google Maps: Here is a map for those coming from the Presidential Palace area to the meeting place for the car trip http://tinyurl.com/neo9duy

Interestingly, the Prophitis Elias monastery played a part in the Second World War. The monks had left long before, and it was lived in by a retired forester. During the war, when it seemed that the Germans might overrun the island as they did in Crete, plans were laid to create a resistance movement in the event of invasion, run by British people with good knowledge of the mountains, mainly from the Forestry Department. It was called Force 133 and was organised by Special Operations Executive in Cairo. They used Prophitis Elias to hide food, clothing, ammunition and bomb-making equipment. Fortunately, there was no invasion. Perhaps the path we will take was intended to be a supply route for the British mountain hideouts. Probably it was created centuries earlier, by monks, to take them over the mountains to the main Mahairas Monastery.

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