Kykkos Xistarouda hike: 5 May

Our activity of Saturday 5 May 2018 takes place in the vicinity of the renowned Kykkos monastery, further west of the valley of Marathasa. We shall walk the linear Xistarouda-Agiasma-Vasiliki trail, at an altitude about 1050 m. The occasion is an all-time first for this club, in this area. The hike starts at 11:00 am. Stavros is leading this excursion, which will go ahead even in light rain; if you need to, call 99567629.

Description of the trail: Xistarouda-Agiasma-Vasiliki is a linear trail, and its distance is 5.3 km each way. Starting point is opposite Xistarouda picnic site, 6.8 km from Kykkos monastery, on the way towards Pedoulas and Gerakies. This trail is a continuous downhill for its first half, and mostly uphill for its second part. The forward leg requires 90 minutes hiking time, net of stops and is rated 2 (medium difficulty). The return leg is much tougher, since the second part is all uphill and requires 65 minutes, net of stops, translating to a total time of just under 2 hours for the entire return leg. Degree of difficulty for the return leg is 3 (difficult).

The Xistarouda-Agiasma-Vasiliki hike offers several rewards to the Strollers; vegetation is made up of golden oaks, pine trees and rock rose, and also plane trees, maple trees, ferns and several species of bushes; after half an hour hiking, we reach a location named Agiasma; legend says that water coming out of the earth here has healing properties, and so pilgrims have left several icons on the side; twice, this trail crosses small river streams flowing all year round, on wooden bridges; also, there are two restored charcoal producing furnaces along our path. The trail ends at a location named Vasiliki, 300 m from the church of Agios Vasilios.

About lunch: At the end of the hike we expect all participants will feel they deserve a good lunch. Every Stroller is invited to join us for lunch. Tavernas are not widespread in this area, so expect to drive a few km to reach our destination. We are considering two options for taverna, and selection will depend upon participation of Strollers driving from Limassol. One option is well on the way back to Nicosia. The second option will ensure that travelers from Limassol do not have to get out of their way. Consequently, to facilitate arrangements, for your better service, you are required to pre-register, if you are joining us for lunch. To do so, please sms the walk leader or e-mail Xenophon by end Wednesday. No need to register if you are not dining.

You have the choice of meeting the group at the Xistarouda walk start, or meet at the designated meeting point in Nicosia. In either case, you need to carry copy of this set of instructions. Meeting in Nicosia offers two important advantages: we drive in full cars, leaving some cars behind; thus, we save in fuel and enjoy the trip in good company. The meeting point in Nicosia is the very large church named tis Theou Sophias (also referred to as Agia Sophia) in Strovolos, which offers ample parking space on its side street. The car trip starts at 9:30 am. Please ensure you observe start times, for the benefit of the group.

How to get to the hike start from Nicosia: From Nicosia take the A9 motorway towards Troodos. The A9 smoothly becomes the B9 highway (towards Troodos), when the motorway ends (near Kokkinotrimithia). On the B9 you drive past the villages of Akaki, then Peristerona and then you reach the village of Astromeritis. At the Astromeritis traffic lights, where most cars turn left towards Troodos, zero your odometer and turn left. Drive along the main road for the next 14.7 km. At the 14.7 km reading take the right turn towards Kykkos monastery and the Marathasa valley. There are several road signs alerting you for this turn. Drive along the main road for the next 17.1 km. At the 31.9 km reading you enter the village of Kalopanayiotis. 600 m later (at the 32.5 km reading), as you drive along the village main road, you reach a junction where you need to slow down and turn sharp right, towards the village of Gerakies. You drive through and out of the village of Gerakies. At the 41.2 km reading you reach a T-junction: turn right on the E912 towards Kykkos. At the 43.2 km reading you reach the Xistarouda picnic site on your left. Observe just opposite a wooden sign indicating a hike start. Park your car. We meet here.

How to get to the hike start from Limassol: Take the main road towards Trimiklini, then Saittas (exit number 28 on the Limassol-Nicosia motorway). Get to the principal junction at Saittas, where you have the options of going straight to Platres or left to Pera Pedi, or right to Amiantos. Continue straight to Platres. At the junction of Psilo Dendro (taverna and trout farm on your right) (this is the starting point to Caledonian waterfall) zero your odometer and continue straight, towards Troodos. At the 2.1 km reading you meet a junction with a left turn leading to Trooditissa monastery. Take this left turn, drive past the monastery and all the way until you get to Prodromos village and the only roundabout in Prodromos. Pass the roundabout in Prodromos, and follow the direction towards Pedoulas. 200 m past the roundabout you will observe the Louis taverna on your left. As you approach Pedoulas, look out for road signs indicating Kykkos. Take the 18 km road to Kykkos. 6.8km before Kykkos, you reach the Xistarouda picnic site on your left. Observe just opposite a wooden sign indicating a hike start. Park your car. We meet here. 2 km before Xistarouda you pass a junction, with a right turn towards Gerakies: continue straight at this junction.

How to get to the hike start from the Kykkos monastery complex: Zero your odometer as you depart from the Kykkos monastery complex. Take the main road towards Pedoulas and Gerakies (this is the way you came here, from Limassol and Nicosia respectively). At the 3 km reading you observe a left turn into a narrow paved road leading after 2 km to the church of Agios Vasilios (site referred to as Vasiliki); this is where the Xistarouda trail ends. Stay on the main road. At the 6.8 km reading you arrive at the Xistarouda picnic site on your right. Observe just opposite, on your left, a wooden sign indicating a hike start. Park on the side. The walk starts here.

How to get to the meeting point for the car trip: From Nicosia get to the junction between Cineplex and Apolloneion Hospital. At the traffic lights where you have the Cineplex on your left hand side and Apolloneion Hospital on your right hand side, zero your odometer and turn left. At the 0.3 km reading you see Lidl supermarket on your right. At the 0.8 km reading you reach traffic lights. Turn left into Elaionon street. Immediately after you observe the very large church of tis Theou Sophias, with its green dome, on your right. Just past the church (1.0 km reading) take the first turning to the right into Kastellas street. This side street offers ample parking space. Park here.

Google Maps: Here is a map taking you from the junction between Cineplex and Apolloneion Hospital to the church of tis Theou Sophias

Google Maps: Here is a map taking you from the Presidential Palace to the church of tis Theou Sophias:

Google Maps: Here is a map taking you from the right turn at the 14.7 km reading (where you leave the B9) to the E912 near the hike start

Google Maps: Here is a map taking you from Pedoulas onto the E912 and near the hike start

About Kykkos monastery: Located in the mountainous region of Marathasa, the Monastery of Kykkos is the wealthiest on the island. Dedicated to Panagia (the Virgin Mary), the monastery possesses one of three icons attributed to Agios Loukas (Apostle Luke) the Evangelist. The icon – covered in silver gilt – is in a shrine made of tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl that stands in front of the iconostasis. According to tradition, Cypriot hermit Isaiah miraculously healed the daughter of Emperor Alexios Komnenos (1081-1118 AD). As a reward, he asked for the icon, and the emperor sent it to Cyprus, along with the funds to pay for the construction of a monastery where the sacred relic would be kept. The monastery burned down several times and nothing remains of the original structure.

Other places of interest: Throni is the name of the very top of Kykkos mountain, at an elevation of 1450 m. It is 2.6 km up from Kykkos monastery. At Throni you find a place of worship of Virgin Mary and a gigantic statue of Archbishop Makarios, who was a monk at Kykkos monastery, and then the first President of Cyprus Republic until his death in 1977.

Note it is unlikely that on this outing we shall find the time to visit Kykkos or Throni.

Disclaimer: If you attend a Cyprus Strollers walk you do so entirely at your own risk. The Cyprus Strollers is a social club and neither the organizers nor the leader of the walk are responsible for the health and safety of those taking part.