luxury yurt retreat shows a different side of the island

<span>The eco-retreat near Paphos in western Cyprus</span><span>Photo: PR</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 6acba447171d” data-src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 47171d”/></div>
<p><figcaption class=The eco-retreat near Paphos in Western CyprusPhoto: PR

“This whole project started as an experiment,” says Pawel Sidorski, who left his life in the European hotel industry to pursue his vision of sustainable luxury and opened Yurts in Cyprus in 2013, near Paphos in Western Cyprus. “I wanted to pioneer an off-grid lifestyle and create a place where people can connect with nature without sacrificing comfort,” he says.

Pawel’s three handcrafted Mongolian yurts and log cabin, tucked away on 2.5 hectares on a hillside overlooking the Stavros tis Psokas Valley, offer just that. We stayed in the spacious Qadan (which means ‘cliff’ in Mongolian), which sits on the edge of the property – hammock, table and chairs ready for sunset or stargazing. Inside you will find a super comfortable wrought iron double bed, rugs, stove, coffee set, Bluetooth speaker and WiFi – you name your comfort and the attentive Pawel has thought of it.

The other two yurts, as well as Koliba, the newly built hut, are family friendly. They are several meters apart to ensure privacy, and all have outdoor showers and compostable toilets that use a combination of sawdust bokashi throw away waste. There is also a conventional toilet for “those who want to try to be closer to nature,” says Pawel, “but don’t want to compromise their comfort in the name of water conservation and keeping the aquifer clean!”

Reached by a long gravel road, the eco-refuge of Pawel is the last inhabited property before entering the forested Troodos Mountains, 2km to the east. It feels wonderfully remote, but the small village of Simou is close by and it is only a 20 minute drive to the small harbor of Polis Chrysochou and the fishing village of Latchi. You can take a boat trip from here, some with glass bottoms and take a dip in the famous Blue Lagoon, or take a dip on the beach before having a fish meze at Y&P Fish Tavern, part of the Latchi Hotel.

Pawel herself lives in the welcoming Straw House, which is also home to four cats and Shuki, a 10-year-old Pointer Cross rescue dog. “His name comes from śukravasaraḥ, which in Sanskrit means Friday,” says Pawel, “the day our paths crossed at the local dog shelter.” Pawel will provide guests with a GPS for self-guided walks or bike rides, but many prefer Shuki as their guide. “He is known for guiding guests,” says Pawel, who organizes yoga and pilates sessions in the pavilion below the house and advises on local mountaineering, water sports and horse riding. For the latter, George’s Ranch offers horseback riding for all levels, but experienced riders can take a 90-minute sunset tour over the cliffs and sandy beaches of the natural caves of the Sea Caves, stopping at Agios Georgios, a small, natural harbor on the Akamas Peninsula. National Park, home to gorges, hiking trails and beautiful bays, including the Blue Lagoon.

Back at the Straw House, breakfast in Pawel’s kitchen consists of halloumi, scrambled eggs, olives and endless coffee. He also cooks a vegetarian or vegan dinner for guests (€17 pp or €10 pp for children under 12). Main courses include fried zucchini with rosemary and garlic, served with cinnamon rice, warm bread, salad and marinated chili, or ajapsandali, a Georgian eggplant stew served with bulgur wheat and local sheep yogurt.

Guests enjoy local wine or beer, nicely chilled thanks to electricity generated by solar panels and a wind turbine. Only 2-4% of energy consumption is generated by a backup diesel generator and in 2021 Pawel installed a solar well pump. “We are completely independent when it comes to water for our household, our guests and our extensive irrigation system,” he says proudly.

One day I went out on an early morning mountain bike with Pawel (there are four available for rent) and completed part of a 15km loop that passes through the deserted Turkish villages of Istinjo, Melandra, Zachariah and Sarama, a legacy of the Turkish invasion of the island. The partition of Cyprus in 1974 and the uprooting of its residents are vividly brought to life. The landscape doesn’t take sides and the beauty is uplifting. We pass the medieval stone Skarfos Bridge over the Evretou River. It is an old Venetian bridge, where poppies grow on the banks, and in the nearby area you can see the watermill of Skarfos. The Evretou Reservoir, itself home to two abandoned villages, is a birdwatcher’s paradise and a good place for fishing and foraging. You can see it on the track as you drive to Pawel’s yurts.

“I’ve seen mouflons on these trails,” says Pawel, referring to an endangered wild sheep famous for its sickle-shaped horns and endemic only to the Troodos Mountains. Unfortunately we don’t see any when we visit Omodos, a village in the northwest of Troodos with a beautiful central square with tavernas and cafes. Although it’s a good starting point for walks, unimpressed children may prefer to visit the mouflon enclosure at the Troodos ranger station near Stavros, where 30 of these shy, endangered wonders can be seen up close.

For adults, there are several wonders in the form of the Byzantine churches in the Troodos region. For me, the highlight was Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis, or St. Nicholas Church of the Roof, an 11th-century Byzantine monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located 5 km from the unmissable narrow cobbled village of Kakopetria on the Karkotis River in the foothills of Troodos.

This church is distinguished not only by its wooden roof and domed cross-in-square structure, but also by the beautiful frescoes, dating from the 11th to 17th centuries, that cover every wall. Of particular note is a rare image of a breastfeeding Madonna, a magnet of which has been hanging on my refrigerator since our visit. In the meantime, I carry in my mind the promise of a return to the hope and warm welcome of Pawel, a man who continues to build – and share – his dream of sustainable tourism. “It’s so worth it,” he tells me. “I am grateful for every visitor.”

Yurts in Cyprus, Paphos: Yurts and cabin from €90 to €130 B&B (based on two adults share, children under 12 stay free). For horseback riding at George’s Ranch, see For glass bottom boat tours from Latchi, see

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