T is for Turkey’s Turquoise Coast part 1, Fethiye to Akbel

posted in: Alphabet Challenge | 0

Written by Lucie.

Trekking Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, following the Lycian Way, tackled ‘T’ for the Alphabet Challenge.

Read background information about the trail, plus our sweet tips for hiking the Lycian Way.

Check out our blogs for other sections of the trail:

Day one

Fethiye towards Kirme, 16km

Like most people, we chose to hike west to east, beginning in Fethiye (11km of marked trail west of the official start) and ending in Antalya.

Exploring Fethiye market the night before we set off.

First task: get to the trail via streets 81 and 78. We climbed rough stone stairs, passed chickens and goats, saw our first set of Lycian rock tombs in a nearby cliff, and frequently thought we were about to walk straight into someone’s house. Fortunately, friendly locals kept pointing us in the right direction.

Finally, we found the road and our first red and white Lycian Way marker! We hiked steeply uphill and had a short rest next to a small cemetery at the top. When we got going again we were a bit confused about where the trail went and we ended up walking on the road a short way before rejoining the path. This sort of confusion and multiple path options would become a fairly regular trend.

This hike will mainly consist of ocean, sun, pine and rock.

The trail turned downhill towards Kayaköy – a settlement that was abandoned when Ottoman Catholics moved to Greece after the Turkish War of Independence in the 1920s. We reached the small, inhabited village below the ghost town before hiking up through the ruins and out into a pine forest. We stopped for lunch as the call to prayer echoed off the surrounding rocky mountains. We figured that the call would become a bit boring quite quickly, but for now it seemed almost magical.

The ghost town of Kayaköy.

When we exited the pine forest we found ourselves on a flatish, grassy area with lots of rocks, which we though could be old agricultural terraces. Here, we lost the trail again (terraces would become notoriously confusing for us), but with a mixture of maps and GPS we worked it out and continued on our way.

Further on, we passed some beehives, a beautiful viewpoint down to the ocean and saw the town of Ovacik – our next key point – looming just down the hill. The dirt road (nearly all ‘roads’ on this trail are rough dirt roads, wide enough for one vehicle and we hardly ever saw a car) we were standing on seemed to go straight to town, but the map said we didn’t walk on it. We eventually worked out that to get to the town, we needed to scramble up a cliff to our right hand side first… Perhaps this hike was going to be more challenging than we anticipated?!

We followed the trail into the town and then out the other side, towards some hotel resorts. Here we found the official start to the Lycian Way (Lykia Yolu in Turkish)!

Confusingly, walking under the banner took us into a small clearing and nowhere else.

We wandered around this sign for a while, trying to work out why it didn’t lead us anywhere, and where we needed to go next. A local told us that we needed to walk down a paved road towards a resort, and a few hundred metres along we found a sign pointing us off the road and up the hill. A while further on, and many sweaty metres of elevation later, we reached a fabulous viewpoint.

Our uphill slog was worth it.

We could see the Blue Lagoon at Ölüdeniz and watched lots of paragliders. There were other people enjoying the view, all of whom had driven up. We soon left them behind to continue ever upwards, leaving the road for a rocky path. We reached a water cistern (a large concrete water container with a round metal lid like a well) and used the resident metal bucket on rope to draw up water.

Then, we continued uphill for another 30 minutes and found the most amazing campsite. We had views right out across the ocean, down to the beach and lagoon, across to the peninsula at Fethiye… There was space for a couple of tents, plus a very basic shepherd’s hut, but we had it all to ourselves. The sunset was pink and red and orange and we loved watching it while we set up camp. We had dinner as the stars came out, heard a few owls, and went to bed.

Not a bad spot for our first night on the trail.

Day two

Halfway to Kirme towards Alinca, 16km

We packed up while the sun rose, paragliders filled the air and a large herd of goats moved across the hillside.

We started hiking and quickly came to a tiny settlement under construction, followed by an inhabited hamlet and then the village of Kirme (which was also tiny). We continued down a narrow rocky path towards Faralya where we stopped for a delicious omelette and to refill water before heading uphill.

The climb was quite strenuous and the sun was getting hot, however, going downhill was even hotter! We reached Kabak where there were two path options: around the valley or a steep 300m drop down to the beach and then a climb back up. We chose the latter and it was sooooo good.

After a long relax on the beach (waiting for the temperature to drop) we started the climb. It was hot, and steep, and constant. But also very pretty. We made a detour to a small waterfall to get water and then we continued to climb. We passed a little rock bivvy, where we briefly considered stopping due to the setting sun. However, it was only another 0.5km to our chosen campsite so we kept going, hiking over loose rock and dry river beds.

Sunset over Kabak Beach.

We found our flat ground to camp on (there was space for lots of tents, but again it was just us and the wildlife) and got set up. It was a very warm night, punctuated with the sound of distant rockfalls.

Day three

Halfway to Alinca to Belceğiz, 22km

Day three was a navigation nightmare!

We were up at dawn and spent our first hour on a challenging but beautiful uphill hike.

Kabak Beach is a long way down!

From Alinca village what goes up must come down and we walked very steeply downhill on a narrow track on the edge of the cliff. It was a long drop to the turquoise bay and the path was covered in loose rock and dry pine needles. Exciting!

After about 1km we crossed a large rockfall and a water cistern. The trail then started to go gently uphill on a wide gravel road, which was a welcome change from the scree staircase we had been on. Alas, this lasted for about two minutes before we were back off-road.

A typical section of trail.

Next, we followed a flat dirt road through farmland and came across a small stone structure with a domed roof and a little doorway. On closer inspection this structure was housing a decent sized pool of water. From the doorway it was a 2m drop to the water so we used an empty yoghurt pail attached to a hiking pole to collect water for filtering.

Presumably the gate is so animals don’t fall in and drown?

After getting water, the trail split. We knew that we could go either way around the loop – one way would go past a small town if we needed supplies, and the other would go past thee Sidyma ruins. We decided on the ruins and continued on the road. Alas, we later decided that we needed to walk towards the town first and then turn off that road a short distance further on. We determined that we could rejoin the trail at the next village but after a decent amount of faff and getting lost on agricultural terraces, we gave up and continued following the road, which also had Lycian Way markers along it. It was fine, we walked through villages where people were harvesting crops, especially olives. We stopped for lunch and wished we could eat olives straight from the trees!

After lunch, it was back out into sun for more uphill. It was so, so hot and we had to pause a few times. Finally (despite several more instances of getting lost with multiple trails being marked and map trails not existing in real life), we reached the Sidyma ruins! Walls, ruined buildings, Lycian tombs and more.

A ruined tomb.

We also found four tortoises the size of dinner plates! Which made up for wandering around confused in the afternoon heat.

When we eventually reached Bel, which was the last village before we planned to set up camp, we were very concerned to find the water point in the village completely dry. Fortunately a local shepherd said we could go to his house to get water. Mark went off for water and many handshakes and broken conversation later he returned.

Now, we were other hunt for a campsite. However, the trail had a steep cliff edge on either side. We continued on as the sun set and headlamps came out. It was full dark when we set up on the far side of Belceğiz hamlet. The sound of goat bells ringing and dogs barking filled our ears, but we were happy to go to bed after a trying day.

Day four

Belceğiz to Xanthos ruins, 24.5km

We were up and moving before dawn. We rejoined the trail, immediately lost it in the terraces (as normal), and found it again way over to our right hand side. We walked through pine forest and found what would have been a great campsite. Alas.

When we reached the rocky cliff, overlooking the ocean, the sky was filling with colour. We stopped to have breakfast with the wonderful ocean view and then spent a long time climbing steeply downhill on rocky ground and scree, past a water cistern. The goats around us made it look all so easy.

We worked our way over the cliff side, had another confusing multi-path option (we just kept going straight, knowing we’d hit the road eventually) and then enjoyed the lovely coastal scenery from the road. A few kilometres on, we left the road to walk to Pydnai ruins. This was a humid and insect filled section but we had fun walking around and through the overgrown ruins.

Some of the ruins.

Next, we arrived at West Patara Beach and had it all to ourselves. It was great to sit down other sand and cool off in the water. We went to the beachfront Green Park restaurant (and camping, the only place on the beach!) for an early lunch. This place was great! The staff was really friendly and offered us hot showers, endless tea, WiFi and phone charging. We had a good feast and the kitten who came to say hello was adorable. We spent two very happy hours under shade in the garden, hiding from the main heat of the day.

Eventually, we had to move on. We walked along a dirt road lined with eucalyptus to remind us of home and found another tortoise.

Another tortoise friend!

It was a long, hot but flat walk to Letoon. There were many, many greenhouses growing tomatoes, plus orchards of citrus. Then we found the ancient ruins, featuring a big amphitheatre and several other structures. You could pay a small fee to enter the site but we could see nearly all of it from the road so decided not to bother. Instead we visited the Letoon Market (grocery store) and did a big food resupply.

The ancient Lycian amphitheatre in Letoon. We looked at it from the shade of a fig tree.

From Letoon we walked a short distance to three more towns: Kumluova, Karaköy and Kinik. These are all close to each other and the road actually had some traffic on it. We did a lot of waving and head nodding to locals.

We filled up on water at the Kinik bus station and then walked up the hill to the Xanthos ruins as the sun was dropping.

Entering the World Heritage Listed site…

The Xanthos ruins are very impressive. A large part of it now sits in the British Museum. But there remains an amphitheatre, lots of pillars, grand archways, walkways and more. It was a great experience, heightened by the sunset, the city at its base, and the call to prayer echoing around. We explored the ruins and accidentally picked up some dogs who followed us on to our campsite. They curled up and slept nearby as we cooked and went to bed.

The entrance to an amphitheatre at Xanthos.
We named this one Andy. He was a good boy.

Day five

Xanthos ruins to Akbel, 19.5km

This day was very prickly.

It had been a long night. There seemed to always be one dog barking like crazy somewhere nearby, even though our dogs were chill, curled up around the tent. When we see off after breakfast the pack walked with us all the way to the end of the park land, then, we went our separate ways.

We soon reached a nether town and had a bit of fun when the marked trail came up to a brick wall, and then shortly afterwards went through a building site. However, once we were back out into open we spent a long time walking along an old Roman aqueduct. The path was heavily overgrown with very spiky and thorny scrubs, however it was a fun walk and the large archway for the aqueduct was impressive.

The 2000 year old aqueduct that we were following, a couple of hundred metres above the plain down below.

We then followed another overgrown aqueduct, where we were excited to harvest some pomegranates! Then there were more scratchy, narrow paths down to Üzümlü, where we went to a pide cafe for a well-deserved lunch and rest. We hid under the grapevine canopy to avoid the main heat of the day.

After lunch we left the town (which was quite fancy and nice) and followed the markers (but not the map) across a valley with scuttling lizards and a bright green mantis. We filled up on water and fruit for breakfast in Akbel, then headed just out-of-town to set up camp for the night and watch the stars.

Another sunset, another day’s hiking done.