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bineba Fethiye - A travel report by Sabine
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Fethiye,  Turkey - flag Turkey
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bineba's travel reports

The Turquoise Coast – A Turkish Delight

  11 votes
Page: 1 2
The Turquoise Coast ticked all my boxes: stunning landscape (I love the sea backed by mountains), interesting flora and fauna, unspoilt beaches, unique geographical features, ancient and modern historical monuments, friendly people and good food. report of the month contest
May 2011

Paragliding above Ölü Deniz
Paragliding above Ölü Deniz
The coastal stretch between Marmaris and Antalya in the southwest of Turkey on the Aegean Sea is known as Lycian Coast , or, and the reason for this becomes quite obvious once you get there, as the Turquoise Coast.

Not too long ago a lot of the places along this coast were only accessible by boat, these days tourism has a firm grip on the region and with it came modern resorts, a good transport system (the roads are excellent), but also the flipside of success: too many tourists (at least to my liking)!

Saying that, if you don’t follow the hordes and, especially, if you have your own transport you can find some peace and quite on unspoilt beaches, you can visit the amazing historic sites and natural wonders at your own pace and at your own time, i.e. before or after it gets really busy. Most people don’t hire their own cars -the local bus system (dolmus) is cheap and efficient and many companies offer trips to all the major sights for very little money. This means you often only have to drive a few kilometres and you have a whole beach to yourself. I liked that.

We flew from London to Dalaman where we picked up our car and just an hour later we arrived at our destination.

We stayed in a small tourist resort called Ovacik between Fethiye and Ölü Deniz and went on trips nearly every day. Everywhere we went was easily reached within one hour (apart from Pamukkale), so it was a perfect base.

The area is also perfect for walkers and hikers, the Lycian Way (Likya Yolu) runs for over 500 km along the coast and the ‘Sunday Times’ described it as one of the most beautiful walks in the world. We only managed half a day, at 30C+ it was just too hot.

Or try a ‘blue cruise’, where you travel along the coastline on a gulet, a traditional broad-beamed wooden yacht, visiting beaches that can only be reached from the sea, like the famous Butterfly Valley.

A week only scratched the surface and I left thinking:I’ll have to come back one day.

Favourite spots:
Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley
The beaches are great here, so are the facilities, even at the more remote ones.
Ölü Deniz (Dead Sea) beach is the picture postcard beach you see on the cover of guide books to Turkey. The narrow spit of land is backed by the blue lagoon and at its tip it is covered by sun beds and parasols, but before you get there you can just put your towel on the pebbles and sand (it’s worth investing in a pair of aqua shoes). There is a small entrance fee as there is for most beaches in the area.
Kidrak or Paradise Beach is just 1km south of Ölü Deniz but completely empty, I think we shared it with 5 people.
Patara Beach, an hour’s drive away south, is glorious: nearly 20 km of unspoilt sandy beach backed by dunes. No hotels, nothing. And from 7pm to 8am it belongs to the turtles which nest here.
Ituzu or Turtle Beach, an hour in the other direction, separates the marshland from the sea near Dalyan, and, again, is sandy and a turtle protection area. You can reach it by car or by boat.

What's really great:
Saklikent Gorge
Saklikent Gorge
Saklikent Gorge would be the 2nd largest gorge in Europe if this part of Turkey actually was in Europe, according to wp. It is 17km long and the limestone cliffs rise up to 300m high. For the first 200m there is a raised walkway, after that you can continue through the river for about 1-2 km without specialist equipment. Some guides say that you can walk along the dry gorge bottom. That might be the case in the height of summer, but wasn’t the case in June. You will get wet (in some places the water was navel high), so either wear your bathing costume or something you don’t mind getting wet. The water is a milky colour so you can’t really see where you are going, but that’s half the fun. Walking through the gorge is an experience; you become intensely aware of the power of nature, in this case water, which has sculpted this amazing place over thousands of years.

At the mouth of the gorge is a restaurant, a café and a campsite with tree houses. You can also go rafting from there.

Pamukkale, the 'Cotton Castle'
Pamukkale, the 'Cotton Castle'
Another geographical curiosity, about 4 hours drive but a definitely must-see, is Pamukkale, the ‘Cotton Castle’ near Dinizli. Over millions of years a waterfall of mineral-rich waters has deposited limestone on top of the rocks and made the mountain look like covered in snow. Shallow pools reflect the sky and the whole experience is quite surreal. This fantastic place was nearly destroyed by man: tourists climbed all over the mountain, investors built hotels at the top of the plateau and diverted the waters, but luckily this was all stopped in the 90’s and now there are only certain areas like the purpose built water pools where you can walk around (Go barefoot! The shoe police is very strict)

There are also ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis on the plateau, complete with a theatre and a museum. And, for an extra fee, you can have a dip in the healing waters (36C) of the ancient pool, a thermal spa pool shaped by an earthquake in the 7th century AD and filled with Roman ruins.

We had booked a self-catering apartment and were pleasantly surprised, as the price was very cheap, just £12 per night for two. We stayed at the Blue Pearl in Ovacik, a smallish complex with self-catering and bed & breakfast accommodation. We had one half of a villa, with a big terrace and 3 balconies. The place was spotless and we even had maid service every day, making the beds, bringing new towels, etc. There was a nice big pool and a restaurant and snack bar.
If you want something a bit more different (and quieter), try staying in a cottage or boutique hotel in Kayaköy (Karmylassos), the ghost town that is slowly coming back to life. The town of 350-400 houses fell into ruin when their Greek owners were repatriated to the Peloponnese during the population exchange after the Turkish War of Independence in 1922. An earthquake in 1957 damaged it even more, but now foreigners and Turks are opening businesses again. Louis de Bernieres’ novel ‘Birds without Wings’ is set here.

It's happy hour again!
It's happy hour again!
I’m no expert on night life as I prefer to get up early and make the most of the day light, but from what I could see, there are plenty of choices in the area. Ölü Deniz Ovacik and especially Hisarönü are catering mainly to a British clientele, and there was no shortage of bars and clubs, some with live rock music, Turkish folklore shows and the ubiquitous karaoke.

I’m more the ‘a sundowner with some nice background music kind of girl’ and I liked both the Help Restaurant & Lounge and Buzz Bar on the beach front of Ölü Deniz and the Sugar Beach Club on the north side of the lagoon. Great cocktails and nice relaxed atmosphere.

Just a word to the wise: Happy Hour doesn’t mean half price as we are used to, at least here in England. Drinks are about 25% cheaper, not 50%. As a cocktail only costs about £6 in the first place hardly worth starting a fight with the waiter for as I had to witness a few times. Especially embarrassing if it is a group of ‘ladies’ of a certain age!

Lycian tombs in Dalyan
Lycian tombs in Dalyan
A brilliant way to spend a whole day is hiring a boat in Dalyan. It was great fun to have our own captain for 7 hours and potter around the marsh lands and visit the sites. Cost was about £40.

We first went to Sultaniye Mud Baths on Lake Köycegiz. For about £1.50 you can wallow in the therapeutic mud or bathe in the sulphurous spring. Next you slowly drift past the majestic Lycain tombs carved into the cliffs by the river and you can marvel at how this was achieved in the 4th cent BC.

The next 45 min you make your way through the marsh to Istuzu beach whilst sunbathing on deck and looking out for tortoises & birds like storks, flamingos and herons.

We gave the ancient ruins of Kaunos a miss, it was far too hot to clamber around on a hill.

Before we got to the beach we stopped next to a little boat where the two men were throwing crabs on a string into the water. What was going on here? It soon became obvious as two huge loggerhead turtles surfaced to get their favourite snack.

Restaurant at Saklikent Gorge
Restaurant at Saklikent Gorge
You could be mistaken to think you are in an English seaside town (apart from the weather and the scenery!), because almost every restaurant advertises fish & chips, Sunday Roast and English Breakfast (with HP Sauce and Tesco sausages!) You can really tell where their customers come from.

Saying that, you can also get excellent Turkish food in most places; simple, tasty food that won’t break the bank. The most expensive meal I had was a huge mixed grill for about £14, but the usual price for main course like Testi Kebab, where the meat is cooked in a clay pot and then mixed with rice and vegetables, was about £8-10. Pide, the Turkish version of a pizza with minced meat, was very tasty and even the humble Döner Kebab was very nice and only about £2.

I had a grilled trout in the restaurant by Saklikent Gorge, right by the riverside and it was delicious. Vegetables and fruit couldn’t have been fresher: water melons, apricots were in season and available at many roadside stalls.

Other recommendations:
Up, up and away
Up, up and away
Ölü Deniz is one of the major destinations for paragliding and this is something I have always wanted to try. For only £50 you can jump off a 1996m (6460 ft) high mountain and fly like a bird until you land safely next to the beach .

The conditions here are perfect and every year in October they have the Ölü Deniz Air Games with many professional gliders from all over the world attending.

But you don’t have to be a professional to give it a go, here you can try tandem para-gliding with somebody who is. First you get driven up Baba Dag, which in itself is quite an adventure as the road is step with near vertical drops. There is not much time to admire the view at the top; after being kitted out you jump almost immediately. And then you fly – on average 40 minutes. I took lots of photos, but also made sure I enjoyed the experience and the fantastic views of the coast line and mountains.

It was absolutely amazing. I loved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Published on Friday June 24th, 2011

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Mon, Aug 01 2011 - 04:30 AM rating by eirekay

Wonderful report! This place was already on my list but now it has moved up a few notches!

Sun, Jul 31 2011 - 11:19 PM rating by jorgesanchez

well earned RoM !

Mon, Jul 18 2011 - 02:12 PM rating by bootlegga

Some fantastic pics - thank you!

Thu, Jul 14 2011 - 11:11 PM rating by louis

Wonderful report and great pictures. I am so envy with paragliding :) lucky you

Sun, Jun 26 2011 - 01:07 PM rating by mistybleu

How cool. What a brillant trip. Great report.

Sat, Jun 25 2011 - 12:18 PM rating by krisek

Excellent report, Sabine! Paragliding, huh? Nice one, I have to say. I am with you on the issue that this part of the world is definitely not in Europe. And Pamukkale is an interesting addition to the Turqouise Coast, hehe :) Great many valuable tips, which we always appreciate so much. Many thanks indeed. You even had Rudi to log on and comment. Now, that is something!! ;)

Sat, Jun 25 2011 - 08:38 AM rating by pesu

Hmmm, what a great report, Sabine! Loved to read it - stunning photos as well!

Sat, Jun 25 2011 - 02:55 AM rating by rangutan

... had to login to see this and am very pleased I did. Great tips!

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