Explore The central and southern Aegean
The imposing outline of Samsun Dağı, otherwise known as Dilek Dağı (the ancient Mount Mycale), dominates the skyline south of Kuşadası and may inspire notions of a visit. Regular dolmuşes make light work of the 28km trip to the national park established around the mountain.
The Dilek Yarımadası Milli Parkı was set aside in 1966 for, among other reasons, the protection of its thick forest and diverse fauna, which is said to include rare lynx, jackal and wild cats. However, you are unlikely to see any of the species in question as much of the 28,000-acre park is an off-limits military zone. The most visited portion of the unrestricted zone consists of a ten-kilometre stretch of mostly paved road beyond the entrance and four good, but often windswept, beaches along it – İçmeler (hard sand shaded by plane trees), just beyond the gate; Aydınlık Koyu (pebbles); Kavaklı Burun (pebbles); and the last and prettiest one, Karasu (700m of pea gravel). Each beach has its own small snack bar or drinks kiosk operating in high season.
Best access to the summit ridge east of 1237-metre Samsun Dağı (Dilek Tepesi) is via a trail from ESKIDOĞANBEY, a village to the south. This is an all-day outing, best done in spring or autumn to avoid the heat. Chances of wildlife-spotting, particularly badgers, jackals and birds of prey, are probably better here than within the confines of the national park on the other side of the mountain. Since the closure of most short-term accommodation in Eskidoğanbey, walkers tend to take an early dolmuş to one or other of the trailheads, hike over the mountain, and take an evening dolmuş back to Söke or Kuşadası from the walk’s endpoint. There are no facilities for staying overnight in the park, though it does provide WCs, barbecue areas and a small café.