By Chris Elliott….
In Northern Cyprus there are many fascinating places to visit that are well documented and I had heard of the Taşkent Nature Park but had not been there until recently and what can I say, it has to be on anyone’s to-do list.
Taşkent Nature Park is a non-profit institution and a social responsibility project dedicated to protecting and raising awareness, of wildlife and the environment, through education.
Each year, hundreds of wild animals are treated and rehabilitated by the Taşkent Nature Park and released back into the wild. It conducts environmental and wildlife awareness workshops and projects. These projects are funded by income generated from the Taşkent Picnic Area, Selvi Restaurant, the Activity Site and from donations.
Cyprus Wildlife Research Institute
Founded in 2016, the Wildlife Rescue and Research Centre (WRRC), the Cyprus Marinelife Centre (CMC), and the Wildlife Hospital and Research Laboratory (WHRL) came together under the Cyprus Wildlife Research Institute (CWRI) in 2018. The CWRI carries out research projects and fieldwork regarding wildlife conservation and habitat protection.
If you find or are aware of wild animals injured or in danger please call the centre on 1190 so that arrangements can be made for their rescue and treatment where necessary.
This is a fascinating part of the park to visit by special arrangement and on a guided tour and we will tell you more in our next article.
Driving into the park turn right and pull up outside the Selvi Restaurant and from within the unique views of nature and its panoramic views of Nicosia, seems to enhance the flavour of the food. Located within the picnic area,
the Selvi Restaurant offers a variety of choices such as breakfasts, shared platters, kebabs, vegetarian options and children’s menus to choose from.
Panagia Apsinthiotissa Monastery
The Panagia Apsinthiotissa Monastery is the first thing that you see when you drive up to the restaurant area which lies to the east of the Taşkent Picnic Area. The original structure is thought to have been built as a chapel in the 11th Century by the Byzantines and was added to in the 14th Century by the Lusignans.
Apsinthiotissa is derived from the Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) plant and traces of frescos can be seen on the inner walls.
With the Besparmak mountains on one side and the Mesaoria plain on the other, you can spend time in nature on their terrace and balcony.
Also located on site is a conference room with a seating capacity of 100 people where events such as seminars, workshops, conferences and educational activities can be held and guided tours can be arranged for a nominal donation.
Taşkent Picnic Area
With a capacity of 3000 people and wheelchair friendly parking, paths, toilets and playground with a further 2 playgrounds, shop and buffet, it is the exemplary picnic area on our island where families can spend many happy days being together.
With environment protection in mind, it was interesting to note by the offices that there was a small glass bottle recycling plant. With companies in the mountains crushing rocks what a wonderful idea if there was a plant where all glass bottles could be taken for crushing and perhaps be used as sand in road construction etc…
There are several walking trails, within the picnic area that connect to the Kyrenia Mountain Range.
Located on the Kyrenia Mountain Range (Besparmak Mountains) equivalent to the size of 12 football fields, the TRNC flag has its own breath-taking illumination and can be seen from many locations around the island.
Most visitors to the Taşkent Nature Park would approach it from the south coming into Taşkent or from the west through Dipkarpaz.
There is another route opposite the Buffavento Restaurant on the Five Fingers mountain road and turning into a large parking area on the right you can take the narrow road to the highest and most mysterious castle which also circumvents Taşkent Nature Park. The exact date of the castle’s construction is unknown but is thought to have been built originally as a watch tower in the 11th Century by the Byzantines.