Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Turkey Adventures - Guest Post
Hi! My name is Sheila and I make stainless steel washer jewellery as individual as you. Let me start by saying I don’t blog and I don’t write (except in my head) but I do love words and I love sharing ideas, thoughts and experiences to help and support others. I also don’t camp or hike!
So why am I writing this article you might ask? Well I was fortunate to spend 8 years living in Turkey on the beautiful Turquoise Coast; 5 minutes walk from the beach and surrounded by mountains just outside Fethiye Town.
If you look for hiking and adventure trails in Turkey, the most popular is The Lycian Way which starts in Olu Deniz near Fethiye and ends 540km away in Antalya. Now that’s a LONG walk! But if you want something a bit more leisurely there are plenty to be had within 50 kilometers from Dalaman airport.
So with a little “inside” knowledge I’d like to share some of the beautiful areas and experiences that we were lucky to have on our doorstep.
A hair raising drive over the mountain
Leaving Dalaman airport you’ll head inland towards Goçek. This used to be a hair raising drive over the mountain with barely enough room to pass an oncoming vehicle and particularly scary in Tourist season as coaches vied for space inches from the edge. However, if you are driving or using public transport there is now a tunnel which avoids the “white knuckle ride” start to your holiday!
Onto the first stop: Goçek is a region of outstanding beauty and has the status of National Park. Legend states this is where Icarus made his famous flight! Goçek Town is surrounded by 12 islands creating an almost circular bay protecting it from the wind. It has become an International Yachting Centre with 5 first class marinas and 2 luxury hotels. The town, however, still remains very laid back and we would often spend a late afternoon wandering the harbour, browsing the boutiques and people watching over a coffee, never spotted anyone famous though! There are some hiking trails around the bay and a few pensions on the outskirts of the town.
Travelling out of Goçek turn off at Inliçe, a small village with a public beach. There are showers and changing rooms on the beach which is usually fairly quiet. All the paths and trails should lead you back to the main road, however, be warned some paths can be “dead ends” as the coastline is very rocky.
You must try the locally produced honey from the pine forests
Back on the main road you’ll be travelling through pine forests, where, interspersed between the trees, are hundreds of bee hives, the honey is unbelievable, and you’ll find it for sale in the local shops; it’s a must try. Make use of the lay-bys for photo opportunities.
The next turn off is Günlüklü: a densely forested area of rare aromatic storax trees (liquidambar orientalis) which are protected by the local government. The resin from these trees is extracted by hand (a skill sadly being lost) and is used in carrier oils for medicinal purposes. Make use of the natural spring that runs alongside the road to cool off and wander down to the beach. Hoorah for you lovely hikers here you’ll also find a campsite or return to the main road and travel a few kilometres to Katrançi.
Katranci is a Nature Park and has a campsite one side of the bay and a campground the other side. My friend and I would take our boys to the campground for picnics; with a cove for swimming and walking trails round the coast it was an ideal way to spend a day. Be warned it does get very busy at weekends and holidays. But if you just want a spot to pitch a tent for a night it’s perfect.
Refreshed and invigorated?
The next stop was one of our favourite places, Yaniklar. If you yearn for a bbq on the beach at sunset this is the spot! Yes that is the view, we took that photograph, cooked a bbq and laid under the stars whilst my son and his friend were swimming until midnight. The beach although quite stony is very quiet with most people using the sandier beach resorts further round the bay. There are also some basic camping facilities to be found here.
If that sounds a bit too laid back, stop off at the nearby horse ranch and book a horse trek. I had my first (and last) horse ride there, coerced by my son who was learning to ride, did I regret it the next day!
Leaving Yaniklar head to Çaliş. Although this area caters mainly for holiday
makers it still maintains a laid back charm. There is also a campsite situated on the beach which makes it a perfect overnight spot to take time out from adventuring and explore nearby.
The modern Fethiye region is situated on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos, meaning “Land of Lights” the ruins of which can still be seen scattered around the area; one is the tomb of Amyntas, which is carved into the rock face overlooking the Town Harbour. It was renamed Fethiye Town after a military pilot who crashed in the bay in 1914 and became the first aviator in Turkey to lose his life.
My suggestion would be to stroll into the town through the new Şehit Fethi Bey Park which opened in July 2018. A 68,000m2 development, it has walkways, windmills, waterways, hammocks, statues, recreational, play & sports areas, together with views across the bay!
Once you leave the park you can continue all the way round the bay past the small fishing boats, Tourist boats, marina and boat yard to the opposite peninsula; a forested area with a campsite and picnic areas. We’ve spent many late afternoons just absorbing the view over the sea watching all the boats return to harbour. It’s possible to walk all around the peninsula and despite a couple of all inclusive resorts, it’s extremely quiet and peaceful with a few secluded bays for a refreshing paddle or swim.
On your return to Fethiye Town you may pass the ruins of the amphitheater, which lay neglected for years. Every time we passed it we would wonder why it hadn’t been touched and marvel at the history behind it! I’m happy to say it is now being restored.
Head into the Old Town (Paspatur) and it’s here you’ll find the vibrant side of Turkey. Through a maze of cobbled alleys, shaded from the sun by vines, your senses will be assaulted by colour, sound and smell. An array of shops selling traditional Turkish carpets, spices, leather goods and all manner of other items, vie for your attention.
Turkish traders love a joke and chat
Do exchange pleasantries with them. If you’re not interested in buying, just say you’re looking and they’ll understand. A highlight of our shopping trips would be to sit in our favourite cafe in Paspatur and drink the best Iced Coffee you could taste, accompanied by the sound of the “call to prayer” from the Mosque, we never failed to be captivated by the atmosphere! Note that it is very “lively” at night!
If you like seafood, head into the fish market. There’s a variety of freshly caught, local fish and seafood which you can buy and take to one of the restaurants who will cook and serve it with your choice of accompaniments. If you want traditional Turkish food try the Lokantasi, which serve an assortment of hot and cold dishes buffet style.
Suitably refreshed? The next part of the journey is over the mountain. Wind your way through the back streets, check out the tombs and carry on for a panoramic view over Fethiye Town and harbour, heading towards Kayakoy the “Ghost Village” 6km up the mountain.
Now I must confess I found it a bit scary driving up the mountain, the road is not particularly wide and there are some nasty bends but it is beautiful and you can safely hike your way through the pine forests either side of the road.
Nestled against the Taurus mountains
These are the modern ruins of a town deserted for political reasons in the 1920’s. Occupied by a large Greek Orthodox population living harmoniously with the Turks, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire led to a mutual compulsory population exchange and the Greek residents of the town had to abandon their homes and were deported to Greece. The remaining Turks also moved away after an earthquake in the 1950’s.
Walking through the deserted streets amongst the crumbling houses, schools and churches it’s easy to imagine what life was like before all the turmoil. There are a few places that you can camp in around Kayaköy but before you leave try one of the speciality bbq restaurants.
Here, among olive groves, you sit in a typical Turkish köşk, a raised seating platform and are brought a “burnt” bbq and your meat of choice which you cook yourself. You can truly eat like a Sultan then sleep under the stars!
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Onwards and downwards to Ölüdeniz! There are a number of paths and trails that lead down the mountain to secluded coves so take time to explore before heading towards Ölüdeniz, renowned for Turkeys most photographed and famous Blue Lagoon.
There is an entrance fee to the lagoon as it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and there are a couple of campsites situated on the beach.
It’s not just the blue lagoon that makes Ölüdeniz so attractive, look up and watch the paragliders gliding down from Babadağ Mountain. The above photo on the left is from the edge of the mountain taken by my Mum! She said “the jeep ride up the mountain was far scarier than the jump off”. She’s braver than me!
In the height of Summer we would spend the early evening on the terrace in a restaurant watching the last of the paragliders land on the beach against the backdrop of a sunset over the sea.
Together with a long, cold drink and some chill out tunes what could be more relaxing?
A little further round the coast, at the foot of Babadağ is the start of the LYCIAN WAY TRAIL and the end of “our” journey....for now!
There are so many further stunning places a little further out from Fethiye: Saklıkent, Tlos, Cadianda, Patara that I might have to write another post!
Spectacular Scenery and History
Turkey is a country where spectacular scenery combines with an assortment of Historical &
Cultural Connections; where ruins bring legends to life!
The Fethiye region brings nature, culture & sport together in a unique way and offers something for everyone.
Things to know
Turkish people are warm and welcoming, if you’re camping near Turkish families don’t be surprised to be invited to join in their meals.
Don’t confuse milk (süt) with the yoghurt drink (ayran) unless you want curdled tea!
Do try the Turkish pancakes (gözleme) delicious for breakfast.
Best times to visit for walking and camping - May-June and September-October.
If I’ve piqued your interest in this region of Turkey and you’d like some further reading/information please take a look at: www.turkeysforlife.com a blog about living in Fethiye, Turkish food and travel
I would also recommend the book Birds without Wings- Louis de Bernières a historical novel spanning WW1 and reputedly inspired by Kayaköy.
Author Bio - Sheila, BoHoMe
On returning to the UK in 2010 we settled in Southport, in the NW of the UK. Adjusting back to life here has been difficult at times, but rediscovering my love of Art & Creating has helped. So I can be found most days in my little studio painting and making jewellery.
Opening an online shop has also increased my social networks and I’m excited to see where this new journey will lead! Connect with me: Twitter @bohome3, Instagram @bo.ho.me, Facebook @shopbohome.
Pin the image below to read later and come back to this post in the future. Pinning also shares the love for other adventurers.
You might also like the following post from Evelin Weiss, travelling through Turkey on the route, driving from Budapest to Singapore. It is written from a different angle of travelling by car and discovering the country that way.