Tag Archives: limestone

Around the Akamas region

If you are into the outdoors and wilderness and are looking for something more rugged than the standard touristy beaches, the Akamas region is the place for you! This beautiful and still relatively wild part of south-west Cyprus is characterised by desertlike scrubland and stores some amazing secluded beaches, nature trails, and gorges.

Public transport in this area is limited, though, and you will need your own wheels or you must join one of the many adventure tours that depart from Pafos.

Here’s a handful of places not to miss in the Akamas:

Lara Beach:
Beautiful and semi deserted beach, famous for its crystal clear waters as well as the turtle hatcheries scattered on the shore. The wind was quite strong when I visited, yet the sea was relatively calm and a pleasure to swim in.

Avakas Gorge:
This is a popular and easy hiking excursion, with lush vegetation and towering rocks all along the way. Given the time of the year of my visit there was little water in the gorge but there appears to be a real stream there.

Sea Caves:
Created in the limestone rocks, these fascinating formations cover an extensive area mainly around Peyia. Although some of the caves can be reached by land, hopping on the rocks and then descending into the caves, the best way to visit them is by sea kayak. I took a half day sea kayaking trip and really enjoyed paddling in and out of the caves, experiencing the amazing environment in what I consider the best way. Truly recommended!

Do you want more amazing beaches and sea? Next post then ;-)

The amazing landscape around Ninh Binh

When Tom and Norma, whom I met at the Nguyen Shack homestay in the Ninh Binh area, asked me if I wanted to join them for a half day trip to Trang An I said Yes even if I had no idea what was there to see. After all I had no plans for the day.

We rode our bicycles for about 5Km on very muddy and rough terrain (Tough Mudder, here I come!) and when we arrived at the Trang An pier we paid 150,000 dong entrance fee and got on a small boat, joined by a Vietnamese men.

For the following two and a half hours, our boat woman took us around (rowing sometimes with her hands and sometimes with her feet!) amongst amazing limestone hills. We visited several grottoes, where we often had to duck down, we got off the boat to see pagodas dotted along the river, but mainly we enjoyed the fantastic scenery.
This is Ha Long Bay on land!

Inside one of the grottoes
Inside one of the grottoes
On the river
On the river
More limestone hills
More limestone hills

There were several other boats on the river, but overall it wasn’t busy. The area is mainly visited by Vietnamese tourists, while Westerners seem to go to Tam Coc instead.

After the boat tour, we cycled further to reach Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam (10th-11th century), but we decided not to visit. We had been advised that there was not much to see there. So instead we turned into a side road and through two tunnels to reach the “secret valley”. In front of us another set of limestone hills like a natural theatre. Absolutely stunning!

Your travel blogger in the "secret valley"!
Your travel blogger in the “secret valley”!

After this, I think I will give Ha Long Bay a miss! ;-)

Update 27 June 2014: at the 38th session of the World Heritage committee (15-25 June 2014, Doha) Trang An was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.