Tuesday, 17 April 2012

We’re on the road to nowhere Safari Cyprus Style.

Cyprus April 2012

Having been woken up at 3.30 this morning by the constant clattering of rain on our bedroom window and the gentle murmurs (OK!, snoring, I was trying to be diplomatic) coming from  my dear  wife. My mind naturally drifted off in two totally separate and yet completely entwined directions. Which just goes to prove that even in the middle of the night I don’t know if I’m coming or going!

“Raygela, you haven’t posted anything on your blog for an eternity, sort it out lad!”

Combined instantly with memories of our amazing

“We’re on the road to nowhere Safari Cyprus Style”.

And so without further ado here goes.  

Each year the “Family Walton” which includes obviously, Jeannie, Lilie Rose, Ben & myself plus less obviously a carer take off to sunnier climes. However this year was different as we were very fortunate (or just well organised as J would argue) to have not one but two carers with us in the form of Jo and Karen. Now this really did change the whole dynamics of our close knit family unit especially for myself.

Just think about it for a second, going on holiday with THREE Women, “No one can be that lucky!” I here you say………………….. “in your dream’s” would be my reply.

Try to imagine, the noise of something akin to Niagara Falls. Now convert the sound of crashing water onto the rocks 100’s of meters below into “the spoken word” and you come within just an inch of  just ONE of the “Three Amigo’s” Chattering away, incessantly.

By the time we had boarded the plane at Manchester Airport I was really wishing I’d brought the “Over Ear – Noise Cancelling” headphones in the not so duty free, duty free shop. It was just the astronomical £295.99 price tag that ensured they remained on the display cabinet for at least another year.

I just need to point out right now before anyone gets the wrong impression, both carers  are bloody amazing (they have to be, to put up with me for one thing) and always bar always put Lilie Roses every need before everything and anything else they do.

With one exception that is, talking! (something females call, multi-tasking, which in reality  means being able to the move their jaw at the same time as doing other thing)…… get my drift! Interjection here by J- typical jaundiced male view, hrmph!  OK I will continue. “Raygela, (see Manc Riders Forum for more information on name change) get back on track”

So by 3.00pm on Thursday the 5th we were all airborne and heading to stay with our Cypriot friend Chris at his C&A Tourist Apartments in Polis on the beautiful island of Cyprus.

Jo, Lilie Rose and Karen were sat on the first row with Jeannie, Ben and I directly behind them in row number two, perfect. However this seemed to be much to the annoyance of a number of other passengers as seating allocation was non-existent and at best can only be been described as “A fee for all!”. Seeing grown adults RUN from the airport terminal building as soon as the doors opened, across 20 meters of runway to the steps that lead up to the plane was pitiful and hilarious in a “Benny Hill” sort of way!
Now I just love reading whilst on holiday and for the very first time Jeannie was able to enjoy that same relaxing pleasure for the very first time on holiday in 11 years. Now if that alone does not justify two carers I do not know what does!

Oz around Australia on a Triumph, by Geoff Hill & Colin O’Carroll (brilliant) kept me busy for the entire flight and the first day and a half of our holidays. J enjoyed something on her Kindle in much the same way. My next book took a little longer “The Road Gets Better From Here” by Adrian Scott (packed with information and very descriptive).

We spent the first couple of days bathed in glorious sunshine wandering to and from the  beach bar. We walked along the sea front where, thanks’ to Chris’s unrelenting determination to make the entire area “disabled friendly” there is a paved footpath around the bay all the way to Latchi Marina which ensured Lilie Rose never missed a thing.  Evenings were spent either eating with Chris and his family or in Polis village in the small but well-furnished walkway with numerous bars, cafes and restaurants. We would recommend a visit to anyone over on the island.

On one such evening I spotted a Quad Bike sat outside a motorbike and car rental office just on the way into the village square.

“How do you fancy a ride on one of those?” I asked J tentatively

“Not on my own but I’m happy to go on the back” J said which surprised and exited me.

“Nice one! I’ll call in tomorrow and see what the scrip is regarding these here Safari’s” .

The Safari

Safari Cyprus Style

So two days later and £350 worse off, (£250 of which was deposit reduced from a phenomenal £500 deposit which they normally charge) saw J and I trying on three different helmets each until we found a couple which almost fitted, job done we were ready for the off.

As for the “Safari” that was just a map of the Pafos Area with a highlighted route up, over and through the Akamas Forest region. The theory being it was better to go on your own than to be led by one of the staff. Fair enough I suppose but £100 for a quad for 9 hours in my eyes it was astronomically expensive, something I’m determined not to let spoil the adventure.

So at 10 to 9 we were riding around the back streets of Polis getting a feel for this 4 wheeled monster. The seat was massive but very comfortable and with sufficient storage underneath for both our bags and a towel (for just in case we could get a swim in). I found having to accelerate using a thumb control very strange and within half an hour almost had blisters from trying to twist the bloody hand grip, plank! First junction I stopped at I almost grazed my ankle trying to put my foot down of all thing’s, plank! Then taking the junction and almost mounting the curb on the other side not realising just how much effort it takes to get a quad to go round corners, plank! Can you see a pattern forming here?

It was at this minute that I realised I really needed to pull over and let the irate driver who was so close behind me that I could see the piece of croissant in his’ tash from breakfast, in my mirror.

Right take two, I pulled out and rode at a respectable 45km hour towards Latchi, slowing to 15km hour for the couple of speed bumps. The route drawn on the map just told us to head straight through Latchi then straight on up the hill and through the small village of Neo Chorio where we would join the mountain track.

Right which way's the bar?

This is where the fun really started, the road just stopped at a car park and the track began to climb up into the hills. It was fantastic, the quad just transformed from the big heavy cumbersome lump of metal into an all-conquering four wheel drive mini beast enabling us to ride on and on. First through dense forest then as we climbed higher the track followed the edge of the hill sides climbing higher and higher.

We passed sign after sign stating “Wild Life Conservation area Hunting is Prohibited” only to have signs to either side peppered by shotgun fire. Empty shotgun shells were to be seen along the entire route.

So much for not "Hunting"

Once we reached the highest point about an hour and half later we got our first glimpse of a pearl blue green ocean edged by the most outstandingly beautiful coast line I had ever seen. It would be another hour before we came across the Lara Restaurant at Lara Bay at which point I realised we had not seen a single person or vehicle. That was 3 hours in the hills which gives you an idea of how remote this part of the island is. We enjoyed a rather leisurely traditional Cypriot lunch of Greek Salad and a Keo beer, overlooking the bay. Or would have done if the bar had not suddenly and without warning filled to the point of bursting whilst we waited for our salads. There were teenagers speaking a language I could not recognise, Indian tourists speaking English and a few German, Spanish and Russian tourists. Talk about a meeting of cultures.

No thank you, We prefer to Safari alone!

Luckily for us it was only a 15 minute pits stop, “loo and a brew” and they were all loaded back into the backs of Landrover’s and away they went. Leaving us to re-order our salads receiving an apology but no discount!

After lunch with arms like “Popeye” and a right thumb that Garth would have been proud off we pressed on along the coastal track taking in some very interesting drops and curves. The drops were literally that straight down for about 50 meters then a sharp left or right hand turn followed by a 50 meter almost vertical climb back to the same level. We arrived half an hour later at the turn around point Avacas Gorge where the track turned into a nature trail.

Heading back the way we came we had a number of “plastic” 4x4’s try and drive over us, bloody Daihatsu and Hyundai drivers. Unable to follow us as we headed back through a few ravines of our own we left them all luckily back at the Lara’s Bar.

We followed the coast road for another 2 hours before turning right at Kannouldia Inlet to head up and back over the hills almost an hour further north. This is when things became very interesting indeed as the ride back over the hills was taking us to the most northerly point of the island. The climb should have been a warning to me of what was to come but as a total novice quad rider I just kept on riding.

Onwards and upwards

Cresting the red road over the Akamas we got an even better view of such beauty I for one will never forget the sight of Chamili Inlet. The colours were vivid and covered the whole of the coast line, however at that exact minute there was a nagging thought going through my mind. “What goes up must come down”.

We had been riding uphill for almost 2 hours by this time but the coast was only some 35 minutes away and as you can imagine, what goes up for a long time must come straight back down in a very short time meaning it was STEEP! Very, very steep! We went over the edge for the first time and with both front brakes and back brake on full and we were making rather too much progress. After 15 minutes of an almost 50 degree drop we levelled out. My arms were buzzing only to round the corner and see yet another two 50 degree drops……… mental is the only word that springs to mind.

By the time we got the bottom I was swearing uncontrollably and feeling very concerned for the couple who we had passed earlier in the day who had two young children of about 5 and 6 years old with them. (when we returned we informed the “Safari” organiser that if the couple where heading in the same direction as we had just returned then they may well be a little late).

What goes up must come down, straight down!

After J had taken a few more pictures and a short video of the bay we thought the worst was over, little did we know! The road turned into an undulating ravine of monumental proportion which had J and I hanging off the right of the quad as we crossed some of the worst tracks I have ever been on. Only to be met head on by a female pick-up driver on the mobile (something Cypriots do with astonishing regularity) who dually took out an entire bush at the side of the track as she had no intentions of slowing down let alone stopping for man nor beast.

After a further half hours we emerged from some very interesting hill side road roads passing numerous walkers to find we were riding past “The Bath of Aphrodite” and then back onto the paved road.

Heading back through Latchi we stopped off for a Keo and a well-earned rest. Heading back along the road from Latchi to Polis to return the quad I looked down 55km hour and speed humps, what speed humps? Arriving in Polis at 4.30 we headed to the apartment to see if Ben would like a ride but the gang were still out on the tour of Polis with Andreas, and the girlies. So there was nothing for it we headed down to the beach bar to finish the day in style, perfect.

Simply breathtaking, perfect.

All in all although it was outrageously expensive the experience was unbelievable. Would I recommend the “Safari” to anyone else? I’m really not sure, it was a lot of money for a day out, even if the petrol was included, but yes if you can afford it do it, you will not be disappointed. £75 would have been a more realistic price in my opinion.

Safari Cyprus Style

Just follow the highlighted route!

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