Melting at Lycian Way trek, Turkey

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Melting at Lycian Way trek, Turkey

Sea, mountains, valleys, history, sun and infinite path are the best words to describe the modern trek following the ancient Lycian Way in Southern Turkey. It is a marvelous and demanding hike which goes through plentiful ascends, descends, wonderful valleys, beaches and villages. I had decided to give it a try. My initial aim was to trek for 9 days and finish after about 170 km walked. The whole trek has around 500 km. I bough tickets for the second part of June which is already a very hot month in Turkey. Well, the area of the trek is also considered as one of the hottest regions of the country. It was quite an unfortunate situation, but I decided to go anyway. I walked for five days. The temperatures were reaching nearly 40 degrees. My path had started in Ovacık and it had finished at Patara Beach. Follow me on these hundred sweaty kilometers of an incredible adventure.

The beginning of Lycian Way by Maciej Zawieja
The beginning of Lycian Way by Maciej Zawieja

Introduction

In Turkish the trek is called Likya Yolu and it had been in my head since I arrived to Turkey. The moment I found some information about it I knew I will hike it. I bought flight tickets and started my journey at the second half of June. At that time the temperatures are already high there, however, I decided to try anyway.

When I decided to do the trek I was already living aboard. Therefore, almost all of my trekking equipment was left in my home country. I had to buy a few necessary items before the trek and improvise. Trekking as most of the adventurous sports are not widely popular in Turkey. Because of that even in a huge city like Istanbul it isn’t easy to find a shop with proper equipment. However, there is Decathlon. Backpacks, chairs and other typical stuffs with Quechua brand on it are noticeable everywhere in the city. I decided to restock there. Decathlon has products with a good quality to price rate. I bought a tent, sleeping pad, camp stove, a pillow and a few small additions. Thankfully, I took my marvelous backpack with me to Turkey, so I had one thing less to buy.

 The start line of Lycian Way by Maciej Zawieja
 The start line of Lycian Way by Maciej Zawieja

Well, frankly speaking, I improvised a bit too much with the equipment. I packed a bit too much. As an excuse, I was going to spend a few days exploring ruins and beaches on the other part of the coast with my girlfriend just after the trek, so I had to look and smell good after walking. But still… the weight of my backpack (including food and water) was sometimes even around 18 kilograms. Excluding food and water it was about 12,5 kg. It may sound like not much, but I had no warm cloths with me. All in all, I have no idea how it happened and let’s not discuss it anymore. 🙂 Usually, I was carrying at least 4 litters of water with me. The temperatures were reaching almost 39 degrees in shadow every day.

I didn’t plan the trek. I just packed my backpack and then I left my apartment. All I did before was a very basic research about the path in order to stay safe. I found out there is a guide book available. I wanted to buy it in Fethiye, however, I didn’t find it there. Perhaps, it’s available only online. I had read the wikitravel page about the trek and information on the following website: http://www.hikethelycian.com/. There us a GPS track of the route available on this website. I had downloaded it and loaded to my Android phone. After a few tries I found an application which was just right to handle the GPS track – Maverick. It uses OpenStreet maps and it has a great GPS service with sufficient maps caching system.

 Souvenirs on the trek by Maciej Zawieja
 Souvenirs on the trek by Maciej Zawieja

Day 1: Dalaman Airport – Kelebek Vadisi

I had a bit rough start. I had arrived to the airport in Dalaman in the evening. I had spent the first night there. I was happy to discover that it had all I needed: electricity, free WiFi and a peaceful long bunch to lie on. After a pleasant night I took a shuttle bus to Fethiye. I had three missions before continuing: restock the food, buy gas for my camp stove and find a guidebook. As I mentioned before I could not find the guidebook, but I didn’t bother with looking too much also. Actually, I didn’t visit any shop which potentially could be selling it. It was quite hot already to walk around the city. I found the gas bottle though. I was absolutely happy about it. My worst nightmare was that I would have to eat baked beans every day. I found a small shop which specialized in natural gas only. They had a few types of gas bottles, most of them were big, however, they had also the one I needed. Buying it took me about 15 minutes as it was not possible to leave without a tea and a small conversation with the owner and his friends. Believe me, if you come to Turkey you will get used to that. Especially, if you speak a bit of Turkish, then the tea breaks will be very enjoyable and… long. 🙂

I had everything I needed. I found myself next to a Carrefour market on a street that looked like it would be the main street. In about a few minutes I had cough a minibus which took me to Ovacık. I left the minibus at a round-about and then I started walking towards the beginning of the trek.

A welcoming view on the trek by Maciej Zawieja
 A welcoming view on the trek by Maciej Zawieja

The sun was up, the heat was burning, the shadow was limited and the views were wonderful. Afer some time of a walk following the solid road I had reached the starting line of the trek. The sweat was already flooding my body and the backpack was getting lighter as I was drinking the water almost constantly. The beginning of the trek was nicely highlighted with a big welcoming board. At the beginning of the walk ws shadowed a little bit, however, all my hopes for a more enjoyable walk were washed away fast. It was noon. After about 3-4 kilometers of walk I stopped in a shadowed place I found on the path. My spot was a narrow passing between a mountain and a big rock which apparently freely fell in the past. I spent there about 2-3 hours accompanied by a kind of enormous crickets or maybe locusts and a bunch of other bugs and spiders looking for hostile in the shadow together with me. The sun didn’t give up even for a minute. Around 4 PM I left my salter and pulled ahead through the depths of hell.

The day was long. Around 6 PM the sun started to give up. Not much thought. At that time I realized what had I signed in for. The weather forecast for the incoming days was completely the same. Sun, up to 38-39 degrees in shadow and not a single cloud on the sight. I knew it was going to be hot at that time in Turkey, but I didn’t expect this much. A few days of feeling like in BBQ. In the evening I had reached the road going towards the Kelebek (Butterfly) Valley. It is one of the most pictureous valleys in Turkey and maybe the whole world. On the way I met a hitchhiker who came there from Izmir. He didn’t speak more English than ‘My name is’. It wasn’t a problem thought. I could speak a bit more Turkish than this so we found our common language easily. We took a short walk together and then our paths split. He went down to camp in the valley while I went up to camp on the slopes of the nearby mountain, just next to the path.

A view from my tent by Maciej Zawieja
 A view from my tent by Maciej Zawieja

Day 2: Kelebek Vadisi – Gey

There are numerous great camping locations along the way marked trekking path. I had used them every night. They had featured my mornings with wonderful views on the surrounding nature. I had walked up early in the morning. The sun had emerged above the mountains as early as at 8 AM and it was already hot. From now on, the days were more or less the same. I had about 2-3 hours of a nice walk in the morning, about 2 hours in the evening, and about 8-10 hours of complaining on the heat during the day. I had no will to take my camera out of the bag for most of the time. At the moments when I found some will I was complaining on the movies also. More than a typical Polish guy used to. And believe me, Polish people are pretty good in complaining.

After about 1-2 hours of walk I reached another amazing valley. It is called Kebek Vadisi. Before it there were two possible ways to go. First one was going around the valley and I decided to start with it. I thought I would skip the 200 meters downhill. Sadly, the path lead to an hotel and the real path seemed to be devastated. It was not possible to continue this way. I was a bit angry as I had to climb up at least 50 meters more to this hotel just to go back down later. The second path lead down to a wonderful beach and I was glad I went there. After a bath in a somewhat cold water I had continued up. The path lead me very high to around 700 meters. It was hot. It was quite. It was challenging. Me and my 17-kilos backpack made it and continued afterwards. Around 3 PM I reached a village called Alinca. There were a few farms, houses and no market. Don’t try to find it on Google Maps. I had a wonderful and very expensive lunch at one of the farms and then I continued. In the evening I reached another village called Gel. There were two markets and I happily restocked. The can of cold fanta was my biggest fulfilled dream that evening. Oh, it was so good. I went camping wild about 1 kilometer farther with an amazing view on the sea.

Kebek Vadesi by Maciej Zawieja
Kebek Vadisi by Maciej Zawieja
To the waterfall by Maciej Zawieja
 To the waterfall by Maciej Zawieja
Kaplumbaga by Maciej Zawieja
Kaplumbağa by Maciej Zawieja

Day 3: Gey – Northen Patara

The day was as every day. I walked up early. I had eaten some breakfast and I continued trekking. The path lead me on the mountains’ slops. It was a rocky and narrow trail. It was also amazingly beautiful and a bit dangerous. Since that time, I had walked a few times on such paths. They were absolutely amazing. Just… not in these temperatures. I recommend to do this trek. I absolutely do…. but go there in April or September. 🙂

My next stops were: Bel, Belcağız and the beginning of the Patara beach. When I reached Belcağız I had a bit of a problem. I had only about 1 liter of water left and there was no place to refill it. I was worried. It was almost evening, but the sun was shining merrily and without mercy. After a longer rest I had reached a solid road and not farther than 500 meters later there was a source of clean drinkable water just next to it. I felt like my prays were listened. At the end of the day I took a bath in the sea and then I set up my camp on a private field. 

Sea view by Maciej Zawieja
Sea view by Maciej Zawieja

Day 4: Northen Patara – Üzümlü

There are times when you think “Dumn, it can’t be any worse”. Well, my dear reader, it always can. That day I was in the Lycian Valley. I had two options: walk the 20 kilometers Patara beach or walk the valley around. I decided to follow the trek so I walked around the valley. This day was hot. So hot… I went through two archaeological sites: Letoon and Xantos. It was interesting that Xantos is basically open with no fences and security. There is a road going through it, just next to an ancient theater. I stopped there to take a deeper look into history. Ok, who am I trying to deceive. I just stopped there to rest. 🙂

In the evening I reached the village of Çaykoy. There is a fake way mark at the beginning of the village. Instead of going around it, it lead me down to the center of it. It was quite unfortunate. Also, just before entering the village there was some property with two very very scary huge dogs. They were running freely and they were ready to attack anyone who tried to cross next to the property. Thankfully, even these dogs were afraid of stones in the human’s hands and I passed them. That was a very scary moment thought. If they would attack, I would have no chances. If you will find yourself there, keep a long knife in your hand and a paper spray ready. Don’t be afraid to harm these dogs if you have to, they will certainly harm you.

After the village I hitchhiked a motorcycle up, restocked, passed the village and set up my tent. This night I had the most amazing tent view ever. 

Xantos by Maciej Zawieja
Xantos by Maciej Zawieja
Another wonderful evening... by Maciej Zawieja
Another wonderful evening… by Maciej Zawieja

Day 5: Üzümlü – Gelemiş/Patara

I walked up early, then I had eaten some breakfast and I had finally left the camp. First few hours of the trek were surprisingly nice. The rest were, not surprisingly, hot. I went thorough Islamlar, the D400 highway and then I walked towards Patara. I had finished the trek around 2-3 PM at Gelemiş. I had eaten some Gözleme then I had set up my tent on a camping spot and I had stayed there for the next 4 days. It was just too hot to continue the trek. I wanted to walk for 9 days, but the temperatures made it not enjoyable. Trekking should be enjoyable. I had walked a lot anyway and I am happy that I did it. 🙂

Patara beach by Maciej Zawieja
Patara beach by Maciej Zawieja

Conclusions

I had walked for a hundred km in the temperatures reaching 39 degrees C. It was too hot. However, I loved the trek. It is an amazing well marked path which has about 500 km. The marking is well at the part of it I had done. During the trek I enjoyed many amazing Mediterranean views, wonderful beaches, valleys and mountains. I don’t recommend to do the trek in the hot months. Especially to someone form the North. The trek is not difficult, however, it is definitely not for the amateurs. Good shoes, sun protection cloths and cosmetics are necessarily by all means on the trek. Do the trek and stay safe! 🙂

Lycian way
Lycian way

Dates: Thu, 16 Jun 2016 – Tue, 21 Jun 2016