Written by Lucie and Mark
Check out our blogs for other sections of the trail:
Üçağiz to Çayagži, 12km
We awoke to a slightly chilly, breezy morning and had breakfast in the tent. Then we ventured outside and packed up to an amazing sunrise.
We set off hiking towards Kareköy, saw the ruins of a castle and walked through lots of rocky but flat fields. We came to a very narrow and cute inlet and reached the Smuggler’s Inn, where we had planned to stop for morning tea. It was still a bit early however and nobody was around except for a very vocal and spritely cat. We said hello to the cat and then continued on our way. The cat followed. The previous night Mark had said it would be cool to have a cat with us on our hikes and travels, although a cat would probably get bored and want to sleep a lot more than we would. It seemed that Mark was being granted his hiking cat!
We hiked on a fair way with the cat still running along with us and exploring the undergrowth. We started to worry that she was coming a very long way from home and that we should try to get her to follow someone going back the other way. We have met very few other hikers so this seemed unlikely, but then we heard voices and met a group of Ukrainians. We asked them to befriend hiking kitty and take her back home, but she chose to stay with us.
We reached the ruins of some buildings, right on the edge of the sea and stopped for a snack. After this we were heading further and further away from civilisation and we were pretty concerned about the cat. Eventually, we managed to convince her to go home. It was a sad time.
The next stage of the hike was around the coast and then out onto more flat but rocky ground near a village. We kept on and stopped at a comfy looking spot for lunch. Then, it was more rocky coastal paths until we crested a hill and found ourselves looking down on a beautiful white pebble beach. We dropped down to the beach, and marvelled at all its splendour: the tiny waves (the most waves we’d seen so far!); the noise of the pebbles rolling over each other when the waves withdrew; the way that algae grew in the pores of the pebbles making them look like dinosaur eggs; the imprints and patterns in the pebbles. It was all awesome.
We continued on the ruggedly beautiful coast path until we met a river. Across the bridge was a long sandy beach leading us to Çayağzi. We crossed the bridge to explore the town but everything seemed closed. We went for a swim/wash in the ocean and found a nice spot to camp on the dunes amongst some ruins. It was a lovely view for the sunset and we were set for the night.
Çayagži to Finike, 8km walking
The sky was dark with clouds when we woke up – a first for our trip! We got moving, going back through the little town and making friends with a cute little puppy (we’d seen the litter plus mum the evening before). Then, it was a relatively boring road walk to Demre. As we approached the city a heavy smog started to close in and the whole place seemed quite grey.
We called in at a small market to resupply on food and got talking to the cashier. We told him that we were hiking and that it had taken about two weeks to get from Fethiye to Demre. His response was – and please read this in your best, very deadpan Turkish accent – “Oh. Two weeks? By car, two hours.” Brutal!
We left the market and got into the central square, which featured a nice fountain and, more interestingly, the church of St Nicholas. There were lots of Russian tourists around and plenty of shops selling tacky religious souvenirs. We found a cafe and had delicious Turkish tea and Turkish coffee. We also took the opportunity to charge our phones, check in with the rest of the world and, very importantly, check the weather forecast, prompted by the beginnings of a rainstorm.
Our next proposed section of hiking was a very remote, exposed mountainous three days. The weather forecast predicted heavy rain (possibly snow in the mountains) and high winds. We did a bit more research and found that a section of trail went over scree fields. After careful consideration, we decided that the inclement weather + difficult terrain on a still healing ankle probably wasn’t wise.
After a delicious lunch, the rain had eased off and we took a short walk to the Myra necropolis, which features a lot of rock tombs and a huge amphitheatre. We met a really nice Iranian couple who were also hiking. We had great chat and they were joking about looking for a five-star restaurant with unlimited buffet breakfast and dinner, all for free. We also walked past some chickens getting jiggy and the guy called out to them to please remember to use a condom. His partner scolded him, through heavy laughter, for saying embarrassing things in front of new people!
Back on our own, we caught a dolmuş to Finike – about 20km along a very windy coastal road, with steep cliffs on each side. We got a cheap hotel and settled in as the rain started to come down again.
Buffet breakfast was served on the top floor of the hotel and as soon as we entered the room we decided that we’d made a good call by not going over the mountains. From the restaurant we could see that the ocean sat under heavy, black clouds and the mountains were white with snow.
We made the most of the food and took a zero day, catching up on chores like laundry. Late in the evening a large thunderstorm rolled across the hills and we were again pretty happy that we were not out on an exposed ridgeline.
Day twenty one
Finike to Gelidonya Lighthouse, 8km walking
We once again made the most of the buffet breakfast before packing up our bags. The next place on our hiking trail was Karaöz. This would be about 30km along the main coastal highway and some other roads. We had seen the trail and it looked pretty unappealing. In plan A we were going to suck it up and walk along the road for a day or two. However, with our new, injury-friendly plan B, we decided to take a bus along the road in order to spend more time on more interesting sections.
We got a bus to Kumluca and then changed bus to get to Karaöz. We were soon back into our usual Lycian Way essentials: backpacks, sunshine, ocean views and lots of rocky cliffs.
The trail to the lighthouse mostly followed along a mountain 4×4 road slowly gaining in elevation, apart from one slight detour about halfway down to the coastline for a nice view-point and a little cove already inhabited by some car campers (and their dogs), some fellow hiker trash and two fighting male peacocks… There was a nice picnic table above the cove where we had some lunch and listened to the squawking peacocks.
After lunch we climbed back up to the 4×4 track and continued south towards the lighthouse. It was fairly easy until we reached the lighthouse turn off onto a more intense, rugged and steep trail for the last few kilometres. There was a beautiful sunset viewing platform, where we cooked dinner later that evening, and some lovely views of the islands scattered off the edge of the peninsula. Unfortunately, the cool camp spot was ruined somewhat by lots of flies and mozzies (especially in the water cistern) and also a lot of rubbish (sadly, this is a problem for some of the campsites closer to bigger towns).
Day twenty two
Gelidonya Lighthouse to Adrasan, 18.5km
It was another cloudy morning. We collected water from the cistern at the lighthouse, pouring it through a buff to get rid of all the mosquito larvae before using our water filter.
We began by hiking north, uphill from the lighthouse, signifying the final northbound stretch of the trail to Antalya. We trekked uphill and had beautiful views back down to the lighthouse and the islands off the end of the peninsula. We then went downhill through pine forest and caught a glimpse of a wild boar. We also saw two hikers heading south and then met a hiker who we continued to leap-frog for a few hours. His name was Ashley and he owns a guest house near Pydnai, which we passed on day four of the Lycian Way.
After the pine forest came an uphill climb over a large area of rocks and boulders. Despite the sky still being quite hazy, the sun was hot on our backs. We stopped for lunch in the shade of a tree and looked out over some small rocky islands. The whole day was full of lovely ocean and mountain scenery.
Then, it was back into more pine forests with quite a few fallen trees to navigate – almost like being back on the Long Trail!
We approached the town on Adrasan, filled up on water and had a wash at the beach showers (it sounds luxurious but the water was cold and by this time the sun was dropping below the rim of a mountain). We continued out through the town and went past some farms before we were back out in the pseudo wild. We found a spot for our tent and settled in for the night.
Day twenty three
Adrasan to Chimera, 16 km
We awoke from our slumber and started our hike by going through a rock tunnel (not as exciting as we had been led to believe – it was a narrow gap through two large rock sides, and only about 5m long)! It was overcast, making it a nice day for some uphill walking, although we still ended up very hot. We stopped just short of the top for morning tea before the final climb. The views were nice from the top plateau, if a little hazy.
Just as we were about to continue, Ashley (whom we’d met the day before and was hiking between pansiyons) came up. We had a chat and took some photos and hiked together for a short while before he sped off into the distance.
The walk to Olympus was nothing too crazy. It wound down through forest and a few sections had a lot of blow downs. It was nice to be in a mixed forest and see green pine with orange and pink leaves.
The trail threw us out near the bottom of the mountain right in amongst the ruins. We had a good look around the tombs, amphitheatre and Roman baths before heading to the beach for a swim and a cool off, which was delightful. The water was crystal clear and cool, but not cold.
We then headed into the town of Çirali where we resupplied on food and then went to a restaurant for an early dinner. We checked the weather forecast, particularly important today because we needed to decide whether to go the mountain or coastal route to Göynük. Luckily the only serious rain we were expecting in the coming days was right there and then while we were busy eating! Mountain route it is!
Once the rain had stopped we packed up and set out for a bit of night walking. We heard that Mount Chimera is best explored at night and there was a camping spot near the top of the hillside. At various points on the hillside, methane and other flammable gases leak out of the rock and burn as eternal flames that have been alight for 2500 years or more!
We reached the entrance (we had glimpsed the flames from the road) on the edge of town and were surprised to find the ticket booth still open (although it made sense). We paid our 7 TL each (1.80 AUD) and set off up the hill. When we reached the fires it was really quite amazing to watch. We had a good nosey around before continuing up to the top of the ridge to a camping spot. To our surprise there were more small flames only 50m or so away from the site… But it was getting very late and we weren’t sure what else to expect on the trail ahead so we reluctantly set up the tent for the night. At least there was somewhere to warm up if it was cold in the morning!
Day twenty four
Chimera to Beycik, 12km
The flames were definitely less impressive in daylight but the hazy sunrise, and particularly, the upcoming mountains were a sight to behold.
We set off down the hill and after wandering around a dry riverbed, somewhat confused by the paint markers strewn around rather haphazardly, we found a dirt road and continued on to a small town. We found a picnic bench next to a flowing drinking water fountain and had a long tea break, making the most of the constant, cool flowing water.
Next, we continued uphill, across a main road to another small dirt road. We walked on (still uphill) and found a small gully with a lot of tree cover. The weather forecast predicted a quick lunchtime shower and there were a few spots of rain beginning to fall so we took shelter to eat lunch. The rain got heavier and heavier…
The rain started to ease and we got moving, but then the storm was back worse than before with thunder cracking overhead. The weather forecast did not predict this! We navigated a very confusing section of trail over a river and a bunch of concrete. We think someone had bought land and erected a fence on the original trail.
Still it rained more and more. With lots of thunder and lightning. The trail became very muddy and slippery and ankles and knees, especially Mark’s bad ankle started to really feel it.
We trudged on, eager to reach town. When we got to Beycik, a local told us about Panorama Restaurant at the top of the hill, and said that we would be allowed to camp there. We thought it sounded great and went straight there. The owner, Sulfi, met us and offered us camping, WiFi, showers, tea etc., all for free! We went inside to warm by the fire and start to dry off. There were already four Ukrainian hikers there and later two Russians. Plus, Ashley made an appearance for dinner! This was to be his fourth or fifth attempt at Mount Olympos, but he had decided the weather was too bad and was returning home.
We had a great chat with him and were blown away by the hospitality that we were shown by Sulfi. We were even given food.
Day twenty five
Beycik to Kemer, 7km walking
During the night we had been woken intermittently by the raging storm and Mark was being disturbed by ankle pain. In the morning, we were greeted by black skies, heavy rain, high wind and loud thunder… All the things for a great time hiking over a high mountain pass!
We had a difficult choice to make. Mark’s ankle was still swollen and had been aggravated by yesterday’s slippery hike. And, as much as we hoped that the storm would clear, it just kept going!
Eventually, we flipped a coin, said goodbye to Sulfi and hiked slowly down the mountain to the main road where we caught a bus to Kemer and drew a close to our Lycian Way adventure. We didn’t take any photos on the way down and the untimely end of our hike seemed like a real downer. So here’s our dreamy white pebble beach to leave you on a high note!