Beyond The Beach
in South Western Turkey
A few weeks ago I went to South Western Turkey and wrote about the turquoise lagoon area surrounding Olü Deniz which was stunningly beautiful and the perfect place to relax in October in mid-twenty celsius temperatures, whilst swimming in the super buoyant crystal clear sea.
However, as I was to find out on my trip there is a lot more to discover in South Western Turkey beyond the beach.
Turkey is steeped in history and on the same trip we set off to explore some of the stunning historical and natural phenomena by jeep – including gorges and ancient ruins going back to pre Roman times.
We had flown direct from Zurich with Turkish Airlines to Istanbul the previous day and in Istanbul we changed planes to fly to Dalaman which is the closest airport to Fethiye where we were staying.
On the first day we took a jeep and headed to the hills and discovered the ruins of an ancient Lycian city called Tlos.
We climbed up to the summit and the views were stupendous and you could literally see for miles.
Back on the road we noticed all the bundles of sesame stems drying in the fields.
We stopped to take a look at the sesame seeds which are inside the stems. Sesame seeds are very popular in all forms of cuisine here and in our hotel there was a wonderful crushed sesame paste served for breakfast with bread.
There were also pomegranates growing wild in the hedgerows everywhere and squeezed pomegranate juice is a popular and delicious drink you can get in all the roadside stalls and cafes.
We visited one of the mosques and had a quick tour inside to admire the beautiful tiles and interior.
Next on the itinerary was a trout farm where we watched local women baking the most delicious round flat breads which we got to taste hot from the stove, filled with a little local cheese and fresh herbs.
Very simple but supremely tasty!
For lunch we headed to Saklikent which means “hidden city” and is famous for its stunning gorge which is one of the deepest in the world. It is 18km long and 300m deep and it’s situated about 50km from Fethiye.
Before exploring the gorge we had a lunch of freshly grilled trout and chicken and salad all set on a table bedecked with cushions which was actually in the river! With the water flowing beneath us, it was an idyllic setting and really fun to be having lunch in the middle of the water. All around us people were gliding past us on rafts or canoes and it felt a little surreal.
Not only was it a fun location to have lunch but it was also lovely and cool as it was situated on the valley floor in the shade.
After lunch we crossed a shallow part of the river on foot (you really need practical shoes here so we hired plastic sandals on the spot) and trekked through the gorge. Surrounding us were gigantic slabs of stone and some of the rocks are more than 300m high. The water was a chalky, limestone turquoise blue and there were boulders strewn all over the valley floor. It felt like being on the set of a movie – and apparently it’s also a popular place for abseiling.
There were plenty of different water sports you could have taken part in here with river rafting being the most popular. I would have happily have spent the whole afternoon here and had a go on a raft but after the gorge it was time to get back in the jeep and head for the next destination!
The ancient city of Xanthos, had in fact been the capital city of Lycia and was full of ruins and this beautiful amphitheatre.
Lycia had been a federation of 19 cities and they set great store on burials and tomb stones and produced some amazing tombs combining Greek and Persian styles. There was plenty of beautiful art work and design on display.
A little further on we stopped at Kayaköy which means “Rock Village” and is a ghost town previously known as Karmylassos and Levissi. It had been had a thriving economy since the 14th Century where Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians had lived harmoniously together until it was abandoned in 1923 at the end of the Greco-Turkish War when a compulsory population exchange took place. Now it’s simply a cluster of roofless houses standing forlornly on a hill.
After a whole day discovering the cultural side of South Western Turkey it was time to head back to our hotel in Fethiye and on to dinner. We had had a fabulous day exploring some of the hidden cultural treasures in this beautiful part of Turkey.
If you’re looking for a holiday with a difference why not take a trip out in a jeep to explore some of the rich ancient history of Turkey – but of course, do make sure you allow some time to explore the beaches and boat trips too! We went in October and the weather was hot and sunny during the day but the sea was warm enough to swim in.
For more information on South Western Turkey please contact Türkei Tourismus or your local travel agent.
NewInZurich was a guest of Türkei Tourismus but all views expressed are entirely our own.
You may also wish to see our article about Ölü Deniz here.