Mazi was a short drive from Vouni (5B/CY-033). As my GPS showed only a few minutes left to the peak along the highway, I turned a corner and saw a perfectly round, verdant hill in the distance (the sort of hill where the Teletubbies live).
However, it turned out that no romping creatures with television bellies lived there. I continued past and turned off the highway onto a dirt road leading through fields of vineyards and rising gently towards a gentle peak.
The first thing I have to say about this peak is “beware of false prophets”. Many hilltops and even many hilltop churches in Cyprus are named Profitis Ilias — he was a popular guy, so make sure you activate the right one. This isn’t hard, though, the GoogleMaps link from the SOTA Summit page took me right to the correct peak, an 8-point summit north of Paphos and about a two-hour drive from Nicosia.
This is one of the least scenic peaks, right up there with Xylias, since this peak is effectively in someone’s backyard and you are likely to find yourself activating on a small corner of land between power lines and a commercial antenna site. There are some nice views downward from that site if you peek between tall bushes, but this peak does not feel at all like a nature walk. On the other hand, it is very much a drive-on peak that does not require an off-road vehicle. It is not far from Limassol, so anyone visiting Cyprus for a weekend could easily rent a car and put this peak on their list.
This four-point peak is about an hour’s drive from Nicosia. I had planned to visit peaks 32 and 40 on the same outing, but dropped the last one because conditions were so good that I spend quite a while on the first two. GPS driving instructions will get you to the point that a gravel road branches off westward from route E101. That road then winds around a bit between farms and houses and gradually climbs upward towards the peak. At one point, which is seen nicely on the OpenTopo map, the road forks. Actually, the two ends of the fork are connected by road so it is a loop, but that connecting segment is relatively steep, so I would recommend just taking the upper branch in and out.
I had last Friday off and since the weather was ideal, I thought it would be fun to spend the day casually traipsing from band to band at a single site. I chose Kreatos (5B/CY-043), the closest peak to my home near Nicosia. I usually prefer to activate new peaks rather than revisit old ones, but I was really in the mood to operate rather than drive all over the island. Still, I feel like I need to do something new with each activation, so the new element for this one was try operating FT8 in addition to CW. As it turns out, I also added a new band: 15 meters.
I have had exactly one FT-8 mode contact on my FT-817, so I am now declaring myself an expert. I am sure there are aspects of this that I haven’t discovered yet, but what I have works and will get a field test on my next SOTA outing. Before I forget how it all works, I thought it best to make some notes.
This one point peak is just above the town of Steni and overlooks Chrysochous Bay. For me, it was a trek across the island, but it would be a short drive for someone starting out from Paphos. On the way, I passed a number of familiar roads from previous activations, so there is probably some reasonably efficient way to visit a few of the peaks in the area on a single day or weekend, but I have been doing them one at a time.
Getting there is easy: tell your GPS to head to the The Monastery of Virgin Mary Chrysolakournas in Steni. The road to the church winds a bit, but it is in excellent shape, and there is a gravel parking lot next to the church.
From there, the road continues up, transitioning from asphalt to cement, to dirt. The road is passable with a 4-WD vehicle, although it is deeply rutted some places and in other places is a rough ride over rock face. The road winds around the back of the hill and keeps going beyond the summit. The top of this hill is relatively flat and anywhere along the back road is in the activation zone.
This a four-point peak about an hour and forty-five minute drive from Nicosia. There are a few other peaks “in the neighborhood”, so if one wanted to string together some activations, it looks like CY-030 is about 25 minutes away, then a 40 minute rite to CY-031, and then another 25 minutes to CY-029, all of which look like they have road or trail access near their peaks. However, it was a hot day, and I decided to put my time in at one peak and try a few bands rather than rush around.
I expected the sun to make the day difficult in terms of mid-Summer Cyprus heat, but I had not planned on having such poor propagation conditions, which I blame on a coronal hole stirring up the magnetosphere. In almost two hours on this summit I barely managed to get the bare minimum four contacts required for a valid activation (merci à F8DGF et F5LKW qui m’en ont sauvé la peau).