Once a secret idyll known only to locals, the Kremmiotis waterfalls have become the must-have post on social media
Summer 2020, and the Kritou Terra waterfalls have become the essential Instagram post during a year when we were all stuck in Cyprus and desperately looking for somewhere different to go.
Thousands of visitors have flocked to the tiny Paphos village to experience and be seen at the two Kremmiotis waterfalls.
Community leader Dervis Charalambous told the Sunday Mail there were even some days in August when a thousand cars drove to the waterfalls using one of the access roads and a further 500 used the road from Polis.
This all led to logistical and safety issues.
Public access was made easier to the first waterfall in 2014. For that, read a road suitable for cars and dotted with picnic tables and barbecue pits. Since then, what had been a secret idyll known only to locals became increasingly popular. A nature trail to the second was cleared a few years later and fame quickly followed.
Then, this year, a tsunami of visitors.
But this meant that was intended to be an extra attraction for a picturesque, historic village with plenty of attractions already has become a victim of its own success.
People have flocked to the cool, green-covered upper pool, where it’s possible to have a dip, followed by a trek down the trail to the moss-coated rocks of the second. This has a small cave-like tunnel carved into the rock and leads from one side to the other which visitors can crawl through.
“It was created by a man named Savvas Michael, who wanted to fetch water from one side to the other to water his fields. Now it’s famous with everyone. People must be careful here and act properly,” said Andreas Achilleous, the village vice president.
Charalambous said that the huge increase in traffic has led to a number of safety issues being brought to the fore, in particular, the danger that fires could pose to the public.
This was highlighted by a recent fire in the area, which thankfully occurred away from the waterfalls, he said, as that could have been disastrous. The council has already placed warning signs along the route.
“It is very dangerous if a fire breaks out, and we have all of these people visiting the waterfalls here. It is quite difficult to get out of this spot and near the river, it would be impossible for people to exit the area quickly,” he said.
The community council has also placed a meter on the road leading to the falls to measure traffic flows accurately.
Charalambous said that it is hard to cope without the support of the state and the authorities.
“I have told the president that we need some money to improve things in the area, for example we have two roads leading to the waterfalls, and there is a river in the middle. We need to connect them by a bridge, but it would be difficult as the river is high and it would be costly,” he said.
The project would cost in excess of around 100,000 euros he said.
“We just don’t have the money and I am hoping that we can get some help from the state,” he said.
Meanwhile the village has been left overwhelmed if happy with its new-found fame. Along with the waterfalls, the village is home to the island’s first casino built in 1878 and is the birthplace of the 18th century dragoman Hadjigeorgaki Kornesios, whose childhood home is still there. The 16th century Ayia Katerini church and the 12th century Ayia Paraskevi church are added attractions.
“We have had thousands of visitors this year and this has helped the local economy, but we have been so very busy and most of the residents here are elderly and over the age of 70,” said Charalambous.
With the visitors have also come tonnes of rubbish left around the waterfall area, he said.
There is no-one else to clean the area so Charalambous takes a truck and clears the rubbish himself.
“There is no-one to help me and it’s been a big problem,” he said.
While the village has largely welcomed its time in the spotlight, some residents are saddened by the loss of what was once a little-known spot.
“I remember taking my family with a picnic and scrambling down a tiny path choked with weeds to get to the falls. We would be the only ones there,” said Nicoletta Pavlidou who has a holiday home in the area. “But once they built the road and widened the pool, we knew it was only a matter of time before the crowds came.”