The Karpas Peninsula, also known as the Panhandle, is located northeast of Cyprus. The peninsula stretches from near Famagusta to the northernmost tip of the island and covers a large area of Northern Cyprus. It is one of the most unspoiled places in the Mediterranean region and is home to an array of wildlife. Its shores offer some of the most beautiful and deserted beaches in the world.
The Karpas has a lot of subterranean water, which means that agriculture thrives. A tractor is still a novelty in many of the small towns dotting the region, and many farmers continue to use horse-drawn equipment. The second most important industry in the area is fishing. Bogaz and Kumyali are the major population centers, and they offer dining options all around Northern Cyprus. Mining was done along parts of the Karpas during the 20th century, but mines closed long ago, leaving little evidence of this work today except for a few abandoned structures.
Today, the Karpas Peninsula is one of the least polluted regions of the Mediterranean. The Karpas, which features pine, cypress and maquis trees on slopes reaching an elevation of 1,000 meters, is also Cyprus’ nature reserve. After retreating from the previous ice age, Cyprus has succeeded in maintaining a substantial amount of biological diversity while keeping much biodiversity.
Plant species in Northern Cyprus number around 1,600 (with 22 being endemic), and there are 26 reptile and amphibian species. The Karpas is the natural home for most of these animals. In addition, there are many different types of insects, including butterflies. This area is also on one of the main migration routes for birds between Eastern Europe and Africa. Every year, approximately 300 bird species use this route during early springtime.
On average, 1,500 endangered female turtles lay their eggs on the shores of Karpas’s more well-known and protected beaches every year. In addition, the last colony of European Audouin seagulls nests on Klidhes–a small isle at the edge of Karpas Peninsula.
The villages’ distinctive architecture is on display in a number of churches and mosques, as well as gorgeous examples of small-scale Middle Eastern construction. However, the Apostolos Andreas Monastery is considered the highlight of the minor number of man-made structures on the Karpas Peninsula. The monastery is dedicated to Saint Andrew and is located near the northernmost point of Cyprus, known as Cape Saint Andrea.
Andrew was the first of the apostles to be called to ministry by Jesus, and he served John the Baptist. The monastery is one of Cyprus’s major pilgrimage sites for Orthodox Christians, and it is regarded as a holy place by islanders in general. In the 12th century, a fortified monastery stood on the site, and it was here that St Andrew alighted on his final journey back to his Palestinian birthplace.
The wells of water under the church are said to have been put there by a Pope long ago, and these same waters are rumored to have cured a blind ship captain. There is an old room beneath the current church that contains these wells, and it is believed to be a chapel from the monastery buildings.
The Karpas region is very easy to get around, and you’ll need at least a full day to explore it fully. Trust us, though: it’s definitely worth your time! If you love the beach, then the eastern coast of North Cyprus is probably your best bet. But if you’re open to exploring other options, the beaches on the north shore are also quite beautiful.
Some beaches on the north coast of the Karpas are closed to visitors during marine turtle nesting and hatching. You can explore this amazing, natural region by car or opt for a tour provided by a number agencies. Car hire can be arranged if needed. Request details and booking information from us if you’re interested in taking a tour.