Located on the southern coast of Cyprus, Larnaca's popularity as a tourist destination has been increasing over the past decade. The oldest city in Cyprus is steeped in culture and history, while the areas surrounding the city are filled with stunning examples of nature's beauty. Larnaca's famous Salt Lake can be found to the west of the city. Of the four salt lakes, Aliki is the biggest followed by Orphani, Soros, and Spiro. These four lakes interconnect to form the second largest salt lake in Cyprus with an area of 2.2 square kilometers.
The Pink Flamingoes of Larnaca
While Larnaca Salt Lake is beautiful all year round, the best time to visit is during winter when the pink flamingos come to visit. Between November and March, tens of thousands of colorful, migratory birds use Larnaca Salt Lake as a temporary home. Of the dozens of species of birds that come to the salt lakes during their migratory pattern, the pink flamingo is by far the most spectacular. These pink flamingos gather together in the center of the lake where they perform ritual mating dances and breed. The most basic element of the food chain in the lakes' ecosystem is the small brine shrimp Artemia (Artemia salina). When flamingos and other water birds are unable to find the shrimp, they desert the salt lakes and continue their journey south toward Africa.
A walk around the salt lake
The area surrounding the Salt Lake is beautiful with rolling hills, clear skies, and mountains in the background. It is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll, especially during sunsets. Winding through the lake area is a designated, linear nature trail that is 4 km in length, and leads all the way up to the old aqueduct of Kamares. The various flora of trees, shrubs, and flowers is signposted with information along the way, and there are also benches placed along the path making it popular for walking and jogging enthusiasts alike.
The legend of the lake
According to legend, the lake's saltiness stems from Agios Lazaros's (Saint Lazarus) request to an old woman for food and drink. She refused, claiming her vines had dried up, to which Lazarus replied, ‘may your vines be dry and be a salt lake forever more.' A more scientific explanation is that the salt water penetrates the porous rock between the lake and the sea, making the water very salty. Archaeological finds show that the area has been inhabited since the Late Bronze Age (2nd century BC). Throughout the Middle Ages, salt was so plentiful that it became one of the primary export commodities of Cyprus. In a trade that was worth many thousands of pounds every year, salt was exported from Larnaca to as far as Venice. Since 1986, the salt is no longer used commercially, however the lake continues to play an important role as a resting place and winter home for migratory birds. Don't forget your camera – the Salt Lake is the perfect spot to let your artistic streak run wild.