Larnaca Salt Lake walk – Saturday 12 December

Larnaca-Salt-Lake-and-Hala-Sultan-Tekke-mosque-lighterOur walk of Saturday 12 December 2015 takes us to the city of Larnaca and its Salt Lake. For nature lovers, this is the pride of Larnaca. The walk has also a cultural aspect, since we shall include a visit to the Hala SultanTekke mosque, a significant Muslim monument, adjacent to the Salt Lake.

We start at the parking area just in front of Kamares (the ancient Aqueduct, a remarkable restored ruin), at the north end of the Salt Lake and follow a well-defined dry path for the first 4 km southwards, along the east side of the lake, offering many splendid views to the birdlife on our right hand side. On our way, we shall stop at the Bird Watch Tower, and those interested may climb to get some better views. The path then turns right and continues in parallel to the paved road for the next km or so, taking us to the west side of the lake. Another well-defined path begins here, heading north, for the final 4 km of the hike, to complete the circle around the lake. Along this side lies the mosque. The walk starts at 10:45 am. Xenophon is leading this walk, which will go ahead even in light rain; if you need to, call 97613720. The walk will take about 3 hours (including the time needed for the visit of the mosque), is on totally flat ground and is classified as easy.

After the walk we shall drive, in a convoy, for lunch at a highly rated restaurant on the seafront in Piale Pasa street. There will be a set fish meze meal, at a negotiated price. You need to pre-register for lunch, by sending sms or e-mail to Xenophon by end Thursday.

You have the choice of meeting the group at the 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 Handicrafts Centre (Kentro Heirotechnias) on Leoforos Athalassas (Athalassa Avenue), which offers ample parking space. The car trip starts at 9:45 am. Please ensure you observe start times, for the benefit of the group.

How to get to the walk start:

Get to the main junction between Leoforos Lemesou/ Limassol Avenue and Leoforos Athalassas. Zero your odometer at this junction. Drive along the Nicosia-Limassol motorway, heading towards Larnaca. At the 34.6 km reading, you reach a major roundabout. Ignore the exit to the right, which leads to the airport. Ignore the exit to the left, which leads to Dhekelia and Agia Napa. Zero your odometer and continue straight, towards Larnaca city. You pass several traffic lights (at the 1.4, 3.1, 4.8 km readings), going straight. At the 4.8 km reading you pass a church on your left. The next traffic lights come at the 5.4 km reading, where you see the Larnaca Fire Station on your left. Turn right here. Go straight at the next two traffic lights (at the 6.2 and 6.6 km readings). At the 7.0 km reading you reach a principal junction, with the K-Cineplex cinema complex on your right. Go straight. A few hundred metres further on you observe the imposing Kamares on your left. Take the left exit and drive up to the parking area in front of the aqueduct. We meet here.

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

Get yourself on Makarios Avenue, heading out of town and set your odometer to zero as you drive past the Nicosia 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 Hilton area to the meeting place for the car trip http://tiny-url.org/RWPji5wr  

Google Maps: Here is a map for those coming from the Presidential Palace area to the meeting place for the car trip http://tiny-url.org/hvLSn8Nw

About the Salt Lake: Larnaca Salt Lake lies west of Larnaca and east of Larnaca International Airport. Larnaca Salt Lake is a unique area of natural beauty and an important habitat that has been declared a protected area. Its wetlands are a magnificent site for bird watching, providing a feeding and roosting area for many species of birds. A stopover for thousands of migratory birds, the Salt Lake is particularly noted for its flamingos that winter on the island (coming from Turkey, mainly, where they reproduce in the summer), feeding off the tiny brine shrimp.

In the summer, the water evaporates and the crusty white surface shimmers in the sunlight, recalling the dried up lake’s former role as an important source of salt. The salt used to be collected on donkeys and stacked up for processing and consumption, until the 1980s when this activity was abandoned.

Legend has it that the lake owes its salinity to St Lazarus who – when refused food and drink from an old woman, replied: “May your vines be dry and be a salt lake forever more.” A more scientific explanation is that the salt water penetrates the porous rock between the lake and the sea, making the water very salty.

About the Hala SultanTekke mosque: Overlooking the Salt Lake, the Hala Sultan Tekke is one of the holiest Muslim sites that houses the tomb of Umm Haram. Tradition has it that Umm Haram was a relative of Prophet Muhammed himself. Umm Haram was the wife of the leader of the first Arabic invasion of Cyprus in 649 A.D. She was killed during this campaign, when she fell off the mule carrying her. The Hala Sultan Tekke mosque was built at the place of her death. The tomb is covered by green velvet and protected by a railing. According to one legend, one of the stones covering it is suspended in mid – air.
Hala Sultan Tekke is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. The mosque was last renovated in 2002. Archaeological excavations in the same year revealed that the area around the Salt Lake was inhabited since Neolithic times.

About the aqueduct: It was built by Bekir Pasha, ruler of Larnaca, in 1746.

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.

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