The Lycian Way is one of the best hiking trails in Europe. It passes through the Taurus mountains, which decorate the Lycian Turkey (the Mediterranean Sea). Hiking in Turkey is much more interesting than "all-inclusive" holiday in Turkey. In addition to gorgeous beaches and picturesque inlets, you’ll see the mighty mountain peaks and meet a non-touristic Turkey.
The total length of the Lycian Way is about 500 kilometers. To walk it takes much more time than we can afford. Therefore, in this route we included the most interesting 132 km of the Lycian Way. On this route you’ll see the most beautiful combination of high mountains, deep canyons and azure bays.
To take part in this trekking you do not need to have any special skills or to be in special level of fitness. It’s enough to have a little hiking experience. Nevertheless, the mountains are still mountains. Every day involves 600-800 m ascend. Changeable weather and a heavy backpack (about 15 kl) will be there. too.
All trip participants are from different cities and different countries. They fly to Turkey independently by different flights, at different times. The group gathers in Antalya (AYT) in a pre-booked hotel in the historical part of the city (Kaleici district). You can take a street car to get from the airport to the hotel. You also can take a taxi (30 min, 30 lire per car). If your flight is in the morning, you’ll have time to take a walk through the narrow medieval streets, see the beach and visit the historical museum with a remarkable collection of antique sculptures. If you arrive in the evening, it’s not a problem, cause you can see Antalya on your way back.
In the evening, when everyone arrives, (at about 22:00), the group meets in the summerhouse on the roof of our hotel. The guide distributes food products (approximately 4 kg per person), checks equipment, tells about the plans for tomorrow. The hotel has a luggage room, where you can leave the things you won’t need while hiking, for example, clean clothes for the way back.
At 7 am we meet on the hotel roof to have light Turkish breakfast with a sea and mountain view. After breakfast we’ll take a van to the start of the trail, to the village of Hisarchandyr (60 min, height 870 m).
We put on our backpacks and start the Turkish trail. We ascend quite slowly, the route goes through forested sides of Namazlar Tapae mountain (1412 m). Now we should breathe deeply and calmly. Let’s breathe in the smell of Turkish pine needle, and breathe out all our pronlems. Let’s get the vacation started!
In 4 hours we reach the place for the night on one of the spurs of Sarychynar Mountain. We set up the camp in a pine forest at a height of 1400 m.
Walking distance: 10 km. Ascent: 600 m.
In the morning, after breakfast, we go for a walk without our backpacks (6 km, 3 hours) to the top of Sarychynar Mountain (1811m). There is a small TV tower, which we’ll observe again and again from other tops along our route. But these are not the tower which attracts us. That is the view of the Gulf of Antalia and the mountais which the top gives.
After that we go back to the camp and pack. The trail is getting more interesting. It climbs rocky crests, crosses scree, dives under the fallen giant trees. The highest point of the trail is a rocky ridge of Hyudachik. From there we can see the Bozburum ridge, the snow-capped Bakyr Dag mountain and the canyon of Belbidi, breaking down right under our feet.
After having a snack we descend to a shady pine gorge. It will take us a couple-of -hours walk to get to the night place which is a clearing protected with powerful plane trees.
Walking distance: 16 km. Ascent: 600 m.
Today is going to be a difficult da. We get up early to have enough time to see a lot. The trail continues to descend and soon brings us to the equipped part of the canyon Harmony (the other name is Goynuk). Here you can not only admire the canyon rocky walls and pure mountain water, but you can also rent a wetsuit, a life jacket and a helmet and swim deep into the canyon to the famous hanging stone. Don’t be afraid of the cold water, it’s worth swimming there to see these beautiful things. A couple of times we did that without wetsuits.
Fresh and clean, we start one of the most difficult parts of the Lycian Trail. We have to gain 400 m in order to avoid the trackless part of the canyon of Harmony. 400 m isn’t that much, but the ascend is very boring and tiresome. We don’t stay long on the pass. But we’ll take our time at the water source to get drinking water. At our overnight camp (one-hour walk from there) there will be only a river.
The camp is set up next to the drying right river tributary of Göynük.
Walking distance: 10 km. Ascent: 650 m.
We go along the familiar river (upstream). The canyon's not too deep, but huge boulders are spellbindingly picturesque. We skip from one rock to another, from the bank to the bank, until we reach the inhabited places. There start almond and pomegranate orchards. The Lycian trail reaches a plateau ( "Yayla" in Turkish).
Walking is becoming much easier, the wide rough track doesn’t ascend. By the evening we go down to the village of Gedelme. There is a huge mountain of Teke-Dag, right above the village. It’s very beautiful ... but we will not go there. We need to buy food in a local store. If we get lucky, we can recharge our phones and cameras.
WE set up the camp for a night next to the ruins of the Genoese fortress. There are also two more local sites - a huge plane tree, aged more than 2500, and a small karst cave with speleothem.
Walking distance: 18 km. Ascent: 700 m.
Til noon we follow a relatively easy way smoothly ascending (300 meters) to the tiny mountain village of Yayla- Kuzdere. Immediately after it, the route climbs steeply through a forest. To take a breath, we have breakfast under the shadow of plane trees, next to a shepherd hut. There is a great water source.
Further the rise continues in a peaceful manner. We slowly ascend along a winding path through a dark "northern" forest, til we find ourselves in a fairy tale. I'm not kidding, it’s a true fairy tale, called Chukur-Yayla. There are huge cedars of Lebanon, bizarre rocks eroded by karst funnels and a mighty Olympos (Tahtali) above our heads.
We put the tents and collect firewood for the evening gathering. Chukur-Yayla is located at a height of over 1600 meters. At night the temperature can low to 0 degrees. So it’s better to prepare in advance warm clothes and to dry wet things.
Walking distance: 16 km. Ascent: 900 m.
Today is the most difficult day of the hiking. We get up before the dawn (like real mountaineers), have a fast breakfast, strike the tents and climb 200 meters up to the saddle of Mount Olympos. There we hide our in the rock crevice backpacks, take money and raincoats, and ascend. It takes 2 hours to climb continuously along a rocky slope to reach the peak. In the spring there can still be snow, so it’d be great to have shoes which are not anything like beach slippers :)
We need to reach the goal, before midday clouds come and cover the mountain. From the top of Turkish Mount Olympus, which is called Tahtali Mountain (2365m), we can see the coast from Antalya to Kash, the mighty mountain chain of Bay-Dag. We’ll be able to see evrything, if we arrive before clouds come.
Having admired the beauty of Turkey, we start to descend. It is not less, but may be even harder test than the ascent (I’d recommend to get trekking poles). We get down to where our backpacks are, then on and on, til we get the village of Beychik (shop, ice cream!). We set up camp next to the creek.
Walking distance: 21 km. Ascent: 800 m, discent: 2000 m.
We continue the descent. Today we reach the sea. But that will happen in the evening. First, we have to wade across in Ulupinar area, bloody red Mexican rocks and Chimera, the very Chimera which was hit by Bellerophon, an antique character, on a winged Pegasus.
The mythical fire-breathing monster is buried under the masses of rocks, and only the flames come out to the surface for many thousands of years. We take a two-hour walk to reach the coast. There we’ll camp overnight at one of the campsites of the village of Cirali.
The campsite means not only a hot shower and a toilet, but it also includes a washing machine, Hooray, we get ourselves clean and pure ? If we are not very tired, we can go to the beach (100 meters from the campsite). There we may watch the turtle, which crawl out to lay the eggs at night (not every day, but it happens).
So, in Cirali we have dinner in the restaurant, have breakfast in the camp, sleep in our tents.
Walking distance: 18 km. Ascent: 500 m, descent: 1100 m.
We’ve found out that it’s not cool to walk along the seashore when it’s very hot. Thhat’s why we leave our stuff at the campsite in Cirali and go for a long walk in the morning (it will take all the day).
We have a choice of three route options:
1) The walk to the lighthouse at Cape Gelidonia. Distance: 18km. Ascend: 700m.
It’s a difficult, but a very beautiful route. We go to the village of Karaoz by taxi. There we start to climb to the ridge Eren Tepe, which crowns Cape Gelidonia. Cape Gelidoniya is like a real edge of the world. Further there are only a couple of island and the open Mediterranean sea. We go all along the perimeter of the Cape along the path which twists among huge boulders and fragrant pine needles. We have lunch near the snow white lighthouse. In the evening we go down to the seaside at Adrasan village. We come back to Cirali by taxi.
2) The walk to the Bay of Karaburun. Walking distance: 20km, ascent: 500m.
On this itinerary we don’t go up high and don’t see the sea from a bird's-eye view. But we visit several secluded azure bays. If you want some adventures, you can visit the secluded tunnel under the mountain Damchotagy. After a long walking day, we find ourselves in the resort village of Tekirova. There we go home by taxi.
3) Research trip on the beaches of Cirali. Distance: 1 km, ascent: 2m.
In other words, you can just stay in the village and swim all the day.
All the morning is about the sea. You can just swim, you can rent sea kayaks (1 and 2-seater boats) and sail around the picturesque ridge of Musa Dag where you can search for waterlogged caves and rock corridors. Having swum and sailed enough we return to Cirali. As soon as we arrive there, we go for a couple-hour walk to visit the ruins of Olympos. It’s a huge complex of ancient ruins. There we’ll find Lycian sarcophagi, the Greek theatre, the Roman gate, the Genoese fortress. And all of these are in Turkish jungles. There is water flowing everywhere. Brooks flow into rivers, rivers do into the sea. And the sea still calls for us. We should not forget that at 17:00 we need to catch a van which will take us to Antalya.
At about 19:00 we arrive to Antalya and stay in the familiar hotel in the city centre.
Distance: 3 km.
Everybody flies back home. A taxi to the airport costs 30-40 lire per car. Do not forget that you’ll need 40 min to get to the airport. And you need to arrive to the airport 1-3 hours in advance. Trekking on the Lycian trail is finished!