I had forgotten how difficult it can be to be a dog owner in Cyprus. Having previously lived here from 2013-2015, you would have thought that I would have a good idea of the limitations that Cyprus has for dog owners. It turns out I had forgotten the negatives and only remembered the good times.
Dog owners in Cyprus often complain about the lack of places to walk their pets and the general negative attitude that locals have towards dogs. Having just spent two years in the UK with Cleo, we were spoilt with countless beaches where dogs can run. As we lived in Yorkshire and then Wiltshire, we also had miles of green space, woods and forests for Cleo to enjoy.
All is not bad for dog owners in Cyprus. One of the best places that I have found to take Cleo is up into the mountains. We used to come up to Troodos every other week to escape the blistering heat of the coast and this time around will be no different. Cleo certainly appreciates it as she is able to walk for miles off the lead and in much cooler conditions.
During the day it is too hot to walk Cleo near the coast (I am writing this in August, things will cool down eventually) and when we do walk her in the early morning or late at night there are nasty, spiky plants that get into her paws. This is not a problem in the mountains. The ground is much nicer on her paws with few horrible plants for her to step on.
Rather than complain about the differences between Cyprus and the UK, I plan to make the most of the differences by exploring dog-friendly spots and writing about them in this blog.
There are 52 official designated nature trails to follow in Cyprus with a large amount of these being in the Troodos Mountains. If you are keen to take your dog into the mountains but don’t know where to start, the Visit Cyprus website has detailed maps and directions for all the official trails. This week I followed the Atalanti trail, starting and finishing at the main town of Troodos. On the map below, I started at the most Eastern starting point and followed the trail clockwise. There are sign posts along the whole route and in clear summer conditions, the navigation is very easy. I didn’t need to use a map or compass the whole way round.
The route has little incline or decline but it is fairly long at 14km. I would recommend this route for intermediate level trekkers due to the length of the trail. If you are a beginner, the shorter Artemis route is probably more appropriate at 7km with similar incline/decline.
At a normal pace, it can take 4-5 hours to complete. We did it in 3.5 hours, probably because I walk a little quicker than average. We most recently walked this route in August where the temperature was a cool 20 degrees. This was ideal for Cleo. Even though it is much cooler than the coast, it can still get hot in the sun and Cleo needed to rest a few times in the shade. Always pay attention to how your dog is reacting. Even if you find it cool and easy going, your dog may be struggling with the heat.
We only passed one running stream (this will be different in the winter, especially when the snow arrives) so make sure you take plenty of water for everybody, including your pet.
The ground can be quite uneven and rocky in parts so appropriate footwear is required. Loose fitting clothing in the summer with a hat to keep the sun off your head is recommended. Pick a route that is appropriate for the fitness, age and breed of your dog. If in doubt, ask a vet for advice for how far you can walk your dog.
There are some stunning views on the trail. On a clear day you get a panoramic view all the way down to the coast in the south and the Paphos forest in the West.
What kit to take?
Here is a recommended minimum kit list for trekking in the Troodos Mountains with your dog:
- Small rucksack
- Minimum of 2 litres of water per person
- Collapsible water bowl (we use these silicone ones and they work a treat!)
- Dog lead (Cleo was off the lead for the trek but you will need it for the often busy Troodos Square)
- Suncream if trekking in the summer
- Snacks – I would recommend the honey coated cashews from Troodos square
- A small first aid kit with bandages (link to a previous post about canoeing with dogs with a comprehensive first aid kit)
- A mobile phone in case of emergencies
- Camera to take awesome photos
After the trek
Once you have finished the trek you can stop at one of the cafes in Troodos Square, have some lunch and watch the world go by. You can buy some of the local nuts, honey or wine to take home as a souvenir. There is usually a fruit stall open next to the main car park which sells locally sourced fruit. I would recommend that you buy a piece of fruit that you don’t recognise. You will be pleasantly surprised.
You may get inquisitive looks from some of the locals for having a pet dog but that is part and parcel of living in Cyprus. Cleo is probably the softest and most gentle dog I have ever seen so it does make me chuckle when grown adults cower from her like she is a rabid monster. When I am in the busier areas of Troodos I make sure she is on the lead so she doesn’t bother anyone that may be scared of dogs.
If you would like to be updated when I find new dog-friendly spots, please subscribe below. Also if you have any recommendations for dog-friendly treks in Cyprus, please reply in the comments. I would love to hear your recommendations.