In year 2018, we traveled to Turkey for the first time to see with our own eyes the beauty of this Mediterranean country. We brought home with us sweet memories of the natural beauty, unique history and archaeological sites of Southeastern Turkey.
A year later, in October 2019, we flew to the transcontinental country again. This time, we hiked the Lycian Way on south Turkey. The Lycian Way is a 540km marked footpath around the coast of ancient Lycia. The trail starts from Ölüdeniz near Fethiye to Geyikbayırı about 20km from Antalya.
The 11 hour flight on Turkish Airlines took us to Istanbal for a short layover before boarding a connecting flight to Dalaman Airport about 2 hours flight time away on the southwest. We hopped onto a van from the airport and went straight to Kayaköy, in the port city of Fethiye.
The Ghost village of Kayaköy, also known as Karmylassos, once a Greek settlement was abandoned in 1923 due to population exchange between the Muslim majority Turkey and Christian Greece. This is the starting point of our multi-day Lycian Way hike in Turkey.
The village used to have 13 chapels, 2 churches, 2 school buildings and a customs building alongside houses when they were built during the second half of 19th century and first quarter of 20th century. The now uninhabitable Greek houses were built on a higher ground of one another so that none of the houses is blocking the view of the other. The window and door frames of most Greek houses are painted in blue color as the Greek believe that blue color will scare scorpions away from their houses.
The 4.5km hike led us through hard stony trail by the mountain slopes overlooking the Turquoise Coast before ending at the small neighborhood of Oludeniz.
The second day hike from Ovacık to Faralya was an experience of a life time. The village of Ovacık is located at the foot of Babadağ Mountain. Literally means father mountain, Babadağ Mountain is famous for paragliding. Zigzagging the mountain trail, the hike rewarded us with the spectacular panorama view of Oludeniz Belcekiz Beach from atop.
At the half way point of this 14.5km hike is the Kozagaci village. Backed by the mountain range on one side and the coastal line on the other, this tiny farming village once attracted the wave of foreigners building holiday homes on lands purchased from the villagers until the authorities imposed restrictions to protect the interests of the villagers. As a result, many incomplete houses are seen abandoned in the village.
A hiking trip in a foreign land become even more meaningful when you are invited to the home of the villager for lunch. The host cooked Gözleme, a traditional Turkish flatbread, fresh in her courtyard for us. We were even given the opportunity to learn making Gözleme ourselves.
Hiking on the ancient Roman Road was like walking on historical pathway when our Guide shared the history of Anatolia with us. With the Babadağ Mountain still as the backdrop, our hike continued from Kozagaci to Kirme before cutting into narrow trails of villages along the way to Faralya.
Out of our expectation, we chanced upon villagers in the process of making Pekmez. Another traditional Turkish food, Pekmez is made by reducing grape fruit juice by way of boiling to syrup. It is a laborious task as one has to squeeze 600kg of grape fruit for 300 litres of grape fruit juice before boiling it down just to produce 20 litres of Pekmez.
After a long day hike, take a swim or simply relax your feet in a café at Oludeniz Belcekiz Beach. The sandy blue lagoon is filled with tourists and it is the landing place for paragliding.
In this trip, we bring along with us the new Casio PRO TREK Smart WSD-F30 to assist our hike. The smart outdoor watch with Wear OS by Google makes our hike more fun as we could check location on the colored map. This smart outdoor watch also comes with compass and miniature built-in sensors for measuring altitudes and atmospheric pressure. The advanced GPS function senses natural phenomena accurately and displays our current location on a full-color map.
On top of that, we can adjust the settings of the watch from the Wear OS by Google app on our mobile phone. The down side of this watch is the battery life. We will have to charge the watch every 3 days if we choose to activate all the advanced functions available in the watch. Having said that, we could also prolong the battery by shutting off functions that are not in use at the time of our hike.
The weather in Lycian Way in the month of October is conducive for hiking. Between 18 to 25 degrees Celsius, the sun is not intense and the cool air does not tired us quickly. We continued our hike on the third day from Faralya to Aktas Beach and Kabak Beach.
Also known as Butterfly Valley, Faralya used to be the home of a large swarm of butterflies. Although the cliffy valley has lost its glory days, hikers still walk the steep valley trail that forms part of the Lycian Way. Bee farming for honey is a popular industry here. Bee farms are seen along the trail towards Aktas Beach until the end of our 10.50km hike at Kabak Beach.
Although we have hiked just a friction of the 540km Lycian Way, the stunning mountains, spectacular valleys, beautiful coastlines, rustic villages, ancient ruins and unique culture have proven to us that the world's top ten long distance hiking trail does not earn its name from nothing. It is not about the hike but the experience that counts after all.