Explore The Turquoise Coast
Ölüdeniz, the “Dead Sea” 12km south of Fethiye is the azure lagoon featuring on every second Turkish travel poster. Its warm, if occasionally turbid, waters make for pleasant swimming even in April or May, or a spin in a rented kayak or pedalo (motorized sports are only allowed in the open sea). However, the environs of this once-pristine lagoon rank as one of the country’s most popular resorts, and its beaches – both the spit enclosing the inlet and the more exposed strand of Belceğiz – reach saturation level on summer weekends.
At such times, it’s perhaps worth avoiding Ölüdeniz altogether in favour of the Kıdrak forestry-department beach, 3km east of Belceğiz. Kıdrak is cleaner and far less commercialized than Belceğiz, with just a small snack bar and seasonal sunbed/umbrella concession (there’s also natural shade in the pines).
Both Belceğiz and Kıdrak serve as landing venues for paragliders, kitted out by several beachfront outfits and taken to a point near the summit of 1976-metre Baba Dağı for launching (April–Nov) – best visibility is in autumn. Despite rates inflated by payoffs to the forest service, this is reputedly the second best spot worldwide to indulge.
A range of boat trips to remote coves, islets like Gemiler and Byzantine ruins is also on offer, though beware limp lunches, bored guides and stops missed out or rushed. The cheapest and most popular destination is the beach and limestone canyon just inland dubbed Butterfly Valley (Kelebek Vadisi) after the many species that flutter about during the right seasons. There’s also a waterfall and the beach itself, which is frequented by an uneasy mix of day-trippers sipping overpriced beers at the café and New Age patrons attending regular yoga, Indian dance and healing seminars whilst staying at the basic tent-or-bungalow accommodation here.Read More
The Lycian Way
The Lycian Way
Inaugurated in early 2000, the Lycian Way is a long-distance trail running parallel to much of the Turquoise Coast, taking five weeks in theory to complete – though it’s expected that walkers will sample it in stages rather than tackling the whole trail at one go. It begins above Ölüdeniz and ends just shy of Antalya, taking in choice mountain landscapes and seascapes en route, with many optional detours to Roman or Byzantine ruins not found in conventional guidebooks. Some of the wildest sections are between Kabak and Gavurağili, above the Yediburun coast, and between Kaş and Üçağız. Elevation en route varies from sea level to 1800m on the saddle of Tahtalı Dağ. October (pleasantly warm) or April and May (when water is plentiful and the days long) are the best walking seasons along most of the way, with summer out of the question except in the highest mountain stages.
The route iteslf ranges from rough boulder-strewn trails to brief stretches of asphalt, by way of forested paths, cobbled or revetted Byzantine/Ottoman roads and tractor-tracks. While the entire distance is marked with the conventional red-and-white blazes used in Europe, plus occasional metal signs giving distances to the next key destination, waymarks can be absent when you need them most. Continual bulldozing of existing footpath stretches into jeep tracks is a major problem – such that the notional initial section between Hisarönü and Kirme has now ceased to exist, with most hikers starting at Faralya – and periodic maintenance (and where necessary re-routing) barely keeps pace with fast-growing scrub and rockfalls. An unofficial “add-on” route, the Likya Yolları, runs from Hisarönü to Fethiye via Kaya, whilst loop side trails and alternate routes are being marked in different colour schemes. Kate Clow, who marked the original Lycian Way, also adapted the Turkish military’s ordnance survey 1:50,000 maps, so a reasonably accurate guide-booklet-with-map called The Lycian Way is available, which indicates points for water, camping and (often obsoletely) overnighting indoors. Hard-wearing and waterproof, the map often saves the day, as trail descriptions can be frustratingly vague (though waymarking was completely redone in 2009); also be aware that timings in the text are for those with a full pack, so deduct about 25 percent when doing sections as day-hikes. The English-language version is sold at select bookshops, newsstands and travel agencies all along the coast as well as from online book retailers. A website, wwww.lycianway.com, offers updates on route conditions and a user forum.