Mother Nature's playground


North Cyprus acts as a mid-migratory junction for thousands of birds, who must keep their wits in order to evade predatory eagles, hawks and falcons, on the prowl for their next meal. To witness the airborne drama unfold is simply breathtaking. On land, diminutive house martins and swallows may seek refuge in an oak tree here, an olive tree there, or the cloisters of several, scattered churches and cathedrals. Outside one such religious dwelling in Famagusta is a sycamore fig tree planted in 1220 A.D., and rumoured to be the oldest living thing in North Cyprus – it’s truly a sight to behold. The photogenic scenery is elevated by the some 1,500 plant species that thrive and jostle for attention, especially in the season of spring when a surplus of flora washes over the landscape like a multi-hued blanket. The ruby red medoş tulip and eye-catching orchids, particularly in Alevkaya or high up on Kyrenia’s mountainous peaks, blossom here, and are something of a pride and joy for the state. Elsewhere, aromatic fennel gently caresses various fields and mountains. Over in the north-east, Cyprus donkeys roam freely and in abundance on the unspoilt Karpass Pensinsula; along with Alagadi and Akdeniz beaches, the golden sands here also double up as rare nesting grounds for many languid marine turtles.