Avakas Gorge and Lara Bay Sea Turtle Conservation Station Paphos Cyprus

Avgas River Avakas Gorge TrailPhoto Constamtina Maiseos

I booked a jeep tour to Avakas Gorge and Lara Bay. The gorge is in an inland forest with stunning natural rock formations that follow the course of the Avgas River. It’s part of the Akamas Peninsula National Park nature reserve. Lara Bay is home to the Turtle Conservation Station, a haven for endangered Green and Loggerhead Turtles. The protected area is where turtles nest and lay their eggs. Conservationists monitor their nesting activity to help boost the sea turtle population.

Years ago, before starting a travel blog, I toured Turtle Islands Marine Park located in rainforests off the coast of Sandakan in Sabah Northern Borneo. Like Lara Bay, the Sabah conservation center protects endangered sea turtles by providing them with safe nesting sites.

Baby Turtle Lara Bay – in-cyprus.philenews
Sea Turtle Nesting

After spending as many as 20 years at sea, turtles return home to Lara Bay to lay their eggs. Turtle nesting season is May to August, depending on summer temperatures, and usually occurs at night. Underneath the stars and moon, there are fewer beach predators, lowering the threat of vulnerable eggs overheating in the sun. The lifespan of sea turtles is 60 to 100 years.

I spent the night on Borneo’s Turtle Islands, and the accommodation was “rigged” for notification – at any hour of the night – when sea turtles were spotted on the beach preparing nests for laying their eggs. To prevent disruption or stress to the turtles, the number of visitors and their length of stay on the island was limited. Fees paid by visitors are used to support turtle conservation.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle – Our Breathing Planet
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Cyprus – en.famagusta,news
Green Sea Turtle Cyprus – English KNEWS EKathimerini Cyprus


Watching the stoic look of determination on the face of a mother turtle digging a protective nest bed in the damp sand and then laying 100 – 200 golf-ball-sized eggs is an incredible experience that I’ll never forget!


Hatchlings Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station – allplacestovisit

Left to their own devices, hatchlings are eaten by predators before they’re strong enough to make it from the beach to the sea, where they have a greater chance of survival. Conservationists help them by protecting the eggs from predators, until they’ve hatched and the baby turtles are able to swim to safety. Even so, many of the hatchlings are devoured on land and in the sea, before they reach maturity.

Lara Beach

On turtle island in Borneo, tiny animated baby turtles were running around everywhere. You had to walk carefully to avoid stepping on them.

Jeep Tours

Roads in the area are extremely rough, so taking a jeep tour is the best way get around. Avakas Gorge and its Hiking Trails provide a special place to learn about the endemic flora and fauna of Cyprus and see a spectacular variety of exotic plants, lizards, and birds. I mention only a handful of them in this post.

Flora and Fauna

Hiking trails along the gorge form a “rocky path between rugged Troodos Mountain boulders and thick forest vegetation“. Tourists hiking the gorge have been injured by loose boulders falling along the rocky trail. It’s a “shady, moist environment,” where indigenous plants thrive. Common endemic flora in Avakas Gorge includes:

Fox, hare, porcupine, and hedgehog are a few of the mammals living in the gorge. Birds that commonly frequent the area include:

Dolichophis Jugularis Whip Snake – Wikipedia

There are interesting birds of prey (vultures, eagles, falcons), bats, lizards, frogs, hundreds of fish species and other captivating deep-sea creatures – jellyfish, octopi, sea urchins, dolphins, seals, fin and sperm whales. Geological elements of the area include limestones, chalks, Pliocene marl, and bentonite clays.


Cyprus is home to eight different kinds of snake, but only three species are poisonous – Blunt-Nosed Viper, Montpellier, and Telescopus Fallax or tree snake. Non-poisonous black whip snakes (Coluber Jugularis) are the “largest and most magnificent snakes on the island”. They grow to a length of up to 3 metres (10 feet).  Whip snakes are often seen on the road and have “gleaming black skin with a bluish tint“. They eat rodents and other snakes and are “powerful enemies of the poisonous blunt-nosed viper“.


Common animals in the gorge include sheep, deer, goats, mountain donkeys, and geckos. Some of the rarer animals on the island are:

Akamas Peninsula National Park is the largest conservation park in Cyprus. It’s an uninhabited protected area, where building is not allowed. Sea turtles lay their eggs in shallow nests along the beautiful sandy bays and beaches. The conservation station makes sure the nests are protected from humans and predatory wild animals.

Lara Beach and Turtle Conservation Station

Lara Beach and the Turtle Conservation Station are about seven kilometers (four miles) from the entrance to Akamas Peninsula. The roads in this rugged area are rough and unsurfaced.

Access to the beach is only allowed on foot. The long, sandy beach is a great swimming spot, but umbrellas and other sunbathing paraphernalia isn’t allowed. There are no restaurants in Akamas or Lara Bay.

Lara Beach Akamas – Cyprus Passion

Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station is managed by the Cyprus State Department of Fishing and Forestry. The area includes simple, wooden water tanks for turtle hatchings that have just come out of their eggs. The station is their first home, before it’s safe and they’re strong enough to make their way to the sea.

Lara Beach sea turtle nesting season is from mid-May to mid-August depending on temperatures. Nests are protected with cages and warning signs. Both species of sea turtle – Green (Chelonia Mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) – are protected endangered species.

Kοurkoutas Lizard Avakas Gorge – Cyprus Mail

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