Aliki - Salt Lake, Larnaca
This lake is one of the most important wetlands of Cyprus and it has been declared a Ramsar site, Natura 2000 site, Special Protected Area under the Barcelona Convention and an Important Bird Area (IBA).
It is the haunt of 85 species of water-birds with estimated populations between 20,000–38,000 and one of the important migratory passages through the country. Among them are 2,000–12,000 flamingoes, Phoenicopterus ruber, which not only stops over but also breeds on this wetland. Other important bird species include Grus grus, Charadrius alexandrinus, Larus ridibundus, Himantopus himantopus, Burhinus oedicnemus, Hoplopterus spinosus, Oenanthe cypriaca and Sylvia melanothorax.
During my short visit to this lake, early in the morning, I was unlucky, due to high temperatures, do not observe any flamingo, but I could admire its picturesque beauty. Then, I went back to prehistoric times and began to imagine a harbour that served a large and commercial town.
In the summer the water evaporates and salt crystals can be seen.
If you can manage your time to visit this lake on sunset, you have a better view.
The Salt Lake attracts a large number of migrating birds besides flamingoes and the latter form a blaze of pink as they gather in the centre of the lake. Flamingoes are said to be fed with a kind of shrimp that lives in the salt lake.
Everyone says that this year the population of these birds and flamingoes are thousands. They always come in December and stay till March.
When summer comes the water evaporates leaving a crust of salt and a haze of gray dust by the banks. Salt is no longer collected because of the airport which is very close. The best point for photos is to get to one of the birds’ observatories for a better view.
There is a nice trail next to the lake starting from the road that leads to the airport very close to Pattichio Park. It extends as far as the Old Roman Aqueduct (kamares).
When visiting the interesting Hala Tekke Mosque you will also see the Salt lake next to it, it is one of the 2 saltlakes in Cyprus. You can walk on the ground of this dry lake, at least at the end of October that was possible. In some of the maps and on some postcards you will see lots of flamingos on this lake,but unfortunately I did not see a single one !
The barren vegetation surrounding Cyprus´South - the towns of Larnaca and Limassol - has shaped two salt lakes. A Christian Orthodox legend has it that Saint Lazarus asked for grapes but was not given any by the locals on his way through the area. Thus, the vineyards were turned into a salt lake where nothing grew anymore.
The lake is especially nice for a stroll around and to visit the beautiful Hala Tekke Mosque. It is a very important place of pilgrimage for all Muslims and an architectural jewel. According to Islamic faith, the Prophet´s aunt died on this spot because she fell off a mule. Tourists can visit it as well.
The Salt Lake is actually a complex network of four salt lakes of different sizes. The largest is Lake Aliki followed by Lake Orphani, Lake Soros and Lake Spiro. The Salt Lakes (1.2 sq.mile / 2.2 sq. km) are just off the airport road and are one of the most distinctive landmarks of the area.
In the summer the water evaporates, leaving a crust of salt up to 10 cm thick. In the winter the lake fills with water and can attract over 85 species of migrating birds, including flamingoes, which form a blaze of pink as they gather to eat the brine shrimp in the lake.
These artificial lakes of water are saline. When the lakes dry out in the summer months , they leave a glistening layer of salt, white and pristine. perhaps with some water still in the middle.
In the spring migrating birds come to the lake, especially flamingoes.
Many places in Cyprus have legends & storys behind their making & importance. The Salt Lake at Larnaca is the same.
According to legend St Lazaros asked on old woman for food & drink, she refused claiming her vines had all dies. St Lazaros replied "may your vines be dry & be a salt lake for ever more". Hence a salt lake inland.
In reality the sea water penetrates the porous rock between the sea & lake area.
In the winter the lake is covered with pink flamingoes. When the lake dries up for the summer the flamingoes continue their migration.
A huge area of salt in summer. You will be very fortunate to see any water in it from April to November.
If you are there in March look out for the flamingos. They are a spectacle in themselves.
Legend has it that the lake owes its existence to St Lazarus, who at the time when the lake was still covered with vineyards passed by, desperate with hunger, and asked the owner to give him a few grapes. The miserly woman lied and said “Stranger, my vines have withered this year and have not produced a single grape.” Lazarus retorted “Because you have lied to me, your vineyard will wither up and become a salt lake.”
And so you can see the Salt Lake…..