Avakas Gorge Nature Trail: A Popular Canyon Hike near Paphos

We did this touristy hike on the 30th of December, 2023. Despite traveling to the Avakas Gorge in the low season, it was rather busy

Driving to and Parking at the Avakas Gorge

The day before, Jonas and I did some shallow research into doing the Avakas Gorge hike. As we were doing a catsit in the mountains near Paphos, we had access to the pet parents’ car. Normally, we would do such a trip with public transport, hitchhiking, or not at all when the internet says it’s too touristy. If we’d done it by bus, we would have gotten out at St George Avenue Pegeia Stop 3 after riding bus 616 either from Pegeia or from Coral Bay, depending on where we would have stayed. This would have added 3 kilometers to the hike before even getting started.

Back to car-brained mode:

The internet consensus was that it’s best to park one’s car at the Agia Matrona (Αγία Ματρώνα η Ρωσίδα) church as after that it’s a dirt road of 1.5 kilometers that’s tricky to drive. The (also free) parking space closest to the gorge is also reachable, but there’s a chance the parking lot is full and one needs to turn around and drive back over the bumpy road.

We kissed the cats goodbye and left Kathikas at a lazy 10:00. I was driving us down the mountain, slowly overcoming my trauma of shifting gears in a right-hand vehicle. Things went well. The last stretch before the church was a skinny asphalted road that wound up and down quite a bit. I think I got lucky there wasn’t any oncoming traffic on that stretch, since it would have been stressful.

We parked the car at 10:40 and walked to the start of the Avakas Canyon. There were only a handful of cars at our chosen parking spot. On the way to the start of the hike, we passed some more banana plantations. We’ve enjoyed Cypriot bananas during our time in Cyprus since they are cheap, tasty, and sold everywhere. Bananas are excellent hiking food.

The closer we got to the canyon, the more parked cars there were. Some also overtook us at a slow pace while we were walking, which was a bit annoying. All of them had red license plates, which means (tourist) rental cars in Cyprus. There was a nice view of the Lara Peninsula in the direction of Akamas Cape right before the last chance to park one’s car. There was also a water source, which we didn’t need (yet) but is good for E4 hikers.

Hiking Up the Avakas Gorge, Crossing the River Countless Times

We started the hike at 11:20. I’m not super proud of that. There was a disturbing amount of people with young children preparing to do this hike. I could foresee the drama when they’d inevitably fall and start crying in a narrow and echoey canyon and no way for me to escape the noise. But the first hurdle was overtaking the group of about ten young Polish men who were all shirtless and smelled like AXE body spray. My eyes started watering.

There was a lot of sign pollution at the start of this hike. The most disturbing sign said that the gorge was closed due to rain. Absolutely everyone ignored it. Since it hadn’t rained in over a week, I knew the water levels must be low enough. Someone either forgot to remove the sign, or it’s a permanent installation to absolve someone of responsibility whenever someone injures themselves or dies.

The first section of the hike was a wide gravel path with some benches. It didn’t go uphill much. It was nicely forested.

At some point, the path gets narrower and the canyon shape appears. Hikers are forced to ford the Avakas River for the first time, which already sees quite some people have trouble staying upright. Trail management was kind enough to put in a few stepping stones that were not super wet or slippery at the time of our visit. There was a last accessible bench right after the river crossing.

The path crossed back and forth over the small river a bunch of times. Things got progressively more slippery as people had made the stepping stones wet and muddy. That wasn’t an issue for me despite my balancing issues because I had my trusty hiking pole. There were a lot of people hiking at a similar pace as us. This is what a morning commute must feel like.

Most of the exciting stuff in the Avakas Gorge is relatively close to the start. The point where the canyon is at its narrowest and water drips in from the top and gets siphoned off via pipe is about 1.5 kilometers in. That’s where everyone is also taking photos of the narrow and sometimes slippery and gooey walls. Though we visited in the off-season (November till April) for Cyprus, the weeks between Christmas and the start of the new year see a temporary uptick in tourism. We mostly heard Polish and German on the trail and saw also quite some French people who were mostly quiet.

One of the highlights of the busiest section of the Avakas Gorge is the suspended rock. It’s quite spectacular, a little spooky as one day it must fall, and also a home for pigeons. I didn’t want to stick around too long not just because of the crowdedness, but also because of potential bird flu or naegleriasis. No, I’m not a medical doctor, but I’ve been afraid of pigeons close to water since that House M.D. episode. Yes, I am old.

The Crashed Lorry, Goats, and Rockfall

We continued the hike keeping an eye on the time so we wouldn’t have to drive home in darkness. The Avakas Gorge opened up a bit more after the most popular section but stayed beautiful. The little sunlight in winter hit the sand-colored cliff walls beautifully. Some of the cliffs still had a bit of overhang with a large debris field below it. Some bits were a challenge to climb over, with large boulders and no clear path. It sounds like the gorge would be super easy to navigate, but there were still some dead ends. Since there were still quite some people, we could see them checking out the trail before us and turning around when it was no bueno. This included watching a teen rub their injury after making a nasty fall.

The number of people – including the lady with a Prada handbag and white pants – thinned out after this one section with very large boulders. Jonas decided to climb over them, while I found an option that went under. It was mostly an annoying problem to solve because a large russian family was trying to overtake us on this section at the same time, only for us to overtake them again five minutes later. On the way back, Jonas figured out that the correct path would have been to stay as close to the water as possible and surround the biggest boulder that way.

I wanted to at least hike to what was mapped as the “Broken Lorry” on my OSM map. This tragic rust bucket was very hard to miss. I can imagine that the lorry ended up in the canyon from the north since there’s a farm road up there. Perhaps someone drove into the canyon drunken or at night and died here. Perhaps someone just forgot to engage the handbrake. Either way, it would have been a drop of about 80 meters from the cliff’s edge.

Judging by the rust spread and the outdated look of the truck, it must have been there for at least 20 years. There was a tire buried in the ground nearby, but many parts of the truck were missing. The mapped spot was just the truck bed. About 300 meters upstream, we found more parts of the truck; another tire and a metal part that had integrated into its environment and had become a small cascade.

About 100 meters later, Jonas and I decided to turn around based on the time. It was 12:50. Much of the trail had just been slippery. Walking out of the canyon another 600 meters to the viewpoint on the plateau felt like not worth the effort. So we turned around and ate some of our shoushoukos/shoutzoukos (σιουσιούκκος) on a nice big boulder near falling water.

Refueled, we continued hiking back and not falling on the slippery rocks. We finally saw some of the notorious goats in the canyon. There are warnings to not stand directly below them since the goats have a tendency to kick rocks down the canyon onto bypassers’ heads. Malice or incompetence? Anyway, you usually hear the goats bleating before you see them.

At some point, I was taking photos when I heard and saw a bit of crumbly rock fall nearby. I quickly dashed across the river to the other side to not get hid. I kept my ears open for another minute when I suddenly heard a big crack near the spot I’d been standing before and saw a rock the size of a football hit the ground. Scary stuff.

On the way back, we didn’t encounter that many people till the narrowing of the canyon. It was simply full of russians at this hour, who all started very late and didn’t say hello like pretty much all the other people. There was a bit of child drama there too, so we took our photos with the pleasant afternoon light and carried on. We also came across an ’emergency exit’ built on the side of the canyon that was concreted shut. I have no clue what that was about, but it could have something to do with the water pipe.

Church Cat, Halloumi Sandwich, Yeronisos Island

We were out of the Avakas Gorge by 14:45. I tested the watering place to see if it worked, and it unfortunately didn’t or needed to be turned on elsewhere. Apparently, E4 hikers can suck it.

Back at the parking spot, we first visited the church. Jonas sat down under an olive tree to search for a place to eat a halloumi sandwich. I spotted some cat food on a wall there, so I took a chance and said “Pspspsps!” and yep, I had summoned a cat.

This sweet tabby looked a lot like the boy Tiny we’re catsitting at the moment in Kathikas. She loved head pets and some of the cat snacks we’d brought over. After making our acquaintance, she was also unafraid enough of us to step on Jonas’ lap.

We drove back via the skinny road and took a shortcut through a neighborhood to a restaurant called Sunset Family Taverna. I usually wouldn’t go for any business mentioning ‘family’, but it appeared on Google Maps when searching for a halloumi sandwich and wasn’t too far away. At €8 per sandwich, it wasn’t cheap, but it was tasty. It was just slices of hot grilled halloumi in a pita bread with tomato.

Afterward, we still drove to Agios Georgios Beach to look at Yeronisos Island from up close. At the sunset viewpoint, there was also a church of the same name that was aesthetically pleasing. But no cats.

We decided to return home and made it back to our catsitting cats at dusk, satisfied with our day trip to Avakas Gorge.

Map of Avakas Gorge Trail

Use the menu to change from satellite view to Google Maps view and to select POIs. Save this map to your phone to use it for navigation.

What to Pack for Hiking in Cyprus?

Before you start this hike, always check the weather forecast. If it’s going to rain, the Avakas Gorge may flood and become dangerous to your life. The water can also be high the two days after it rains. If you want to avoid the crowds, first of all—good luck, secondly, start very early. Even though it’s nice and cool in the gorge, there are sunny sections. Also note that there are parts of the Avakas Gorge without cellphone reception.

Anyway, to make the most of your hike, make sure to bring:

  • Hats
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Hiking pole(s) – I use just one, but I’ve seen people on the trail with two!
  • Enough water
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks, including Cypriot bananas
  • Dry bag for your precious goods
  • Phone (preferably with a wide-angle lens to capture that canyon!)
  • Lightweight power bank with charging cable
  • Optional: grippy water shoes

Don’t bring:

  • Prada handbag

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