After travelling from Istanbul to Fethiye, via a 13 hour bus journey, we had a couple of days to relax and gather up the supplies we thought we would need. A few items we had been carrying were dumped in the garbage and our bags packed full ready for the trip. On the morning of our Dolmus ride to the trailhead we skipped breakfast, just the pre-hike anxiety kicking in 🙂
The Dolmus let us off at the junction before the trailhead, we had to hike 500m before we came across the official starting sign. The views over the peninsula are awesome, with the turquoise water breaking on the beaches. We knew the day would be uphill and the hiking was not that technical. Most of the day we were accompanied by goats with their bells clanging in the undergrowth as they picked off the tastiest greenery they could find.
By the time we arrived in Faralya we were very hungry, we stopped at a local house/restaurant and had some eggs and chips/fries with a traditional Turkish pancake. Good enough for us to continue on to our campsite for the night. Before leaving we asked about the store that was supposed to be in the village, unfortunately for us there is no store! Luckily we have enough to get by until we get to the next village in the morning.
The first night of camping was great, no noise, temperature was warm enough and we had coffee and hot chocolate to make drinks 🙂 We set off early in the morning and planned to stop in Kabak beach for breakfast, we were pretty hungry by the time we arrived but we sat on the patio overlooking Kabak beach and had our first Turkish style breakfast with fresh olives, eggs, cheese, honey, cucumber, tomato and other homemade delicacies like lemon jam.
After taking our time to eat we went to the store to stock up on groceries, one thing that may become a challenge is the limited stores, limited food selection and limited water supplies. We have the MSR water filter so as long as we can find the springs we are okay, but my gluten free diet is going to be a real challenge. On top of that our cash is dwindling as we are spending more on food at the local restaurants/homes.
The rest of today was going to be up into the mountain surrounding Kabak, the trail was initially steep but leveled off. Hiking in the heat is a challenge with the heavy packs and by the time we got to Alinca we were tired and low on water. I asked some locals for “Su” and they obliged by letting me on their property to fill up a bottle. As we started down towards the coast we managed to find a bench to setup the tent, it felt like we were on the edge of a cliff above the ocean. I managed to find some more water by hiking another kilometer into tomorrows hike before we sat and watched the sunset.
Today we are expecting a challenging start, as the trail is not suitable with large packs in windy or wet weather. Overall we think the hiking should be reasonable and we have a camping spot identified for this evening. After the tough start we cleaned some clothes in the river and set off on some easier terrain before we had breakfast and got supplies in a town called Gey. Turkish breakfast served on a families balcony, with a small store in their home extension, many of the small villages the locals will setup their own business and invite you in as you pass.
The terrain up until the second valley was good, easy mileage. However the climb out of the second valley took quite a bit of energy and by the time we got to Bel we were happy to finish for the day. In Bel we bumped into a German guy we had seen earlier called Jurg who was staying at Fatimas Pension so we stopped for tea and made plans to have breakfast there in the morning. Fatima is extremely friendly and the tea was very good value. After drinking three or four cups of tea with copious amounts of sugar we hiked another five hundred meters up the road to a small terraced field overlooking the valley and setup the tent. Just before sundown we had our first encounter with the shepherds herd coming through, as with every Turk we have met he was very friendly and gave us a warm welcome and hoped we stayed warmed in the night.
A windy night in the tent, but everything stayed in place and we didn’t seen anymore sheep. This morning we are off to Fatima’s for breakfast, which ended up being well worth the money, great Turkish style breakfast and great hosts. After eating we went and grabbed our gear from our improvised campsite and set out on some easy hiking, until the steep downhill, over loose rocks with a lot of switchbacks, luckily it was not too long before the easy hiking returned.
We had a bonus stop by a beach, for once the book was accurate enough to get us where we wanted to go, after studying the German version last night we had a much better idea of the days hike. The beach was a good break, cooling off the feet in the cold mediteranean water being careful not to sucked down the steep slope into the waves. When we left we had to filter some more water before getting a little lost and following old trails then deciding just to walk down the road, follow the GPS and ignore the book altogether.
The next troublesome section of hiking was near the top of the days elevation gain, scrambling over and around boulders. I relayed both backpacks to help MJs energy conservation and to be more comfortable that she would not slide down some of the steep slopes. These trails can become very frustrating, it would not take much to reroute the trail and make a safe and enjoyable hike through these areas. Anyway after a break at the top we set off on the easy downslope making fast progress towards our planned camping spot.
The end of the hike was going well then all of a sudden we had to traverse a hill side covered with prickly gorse plants, loose rocks and a barely visible trail, add on the large bags and it became another tiresome end of day experience. We sought out a random field to camp in and I hiked another couple of kilometers to find some water from a spring before we settled in. At least we were settled until we heard the bells of the sheep approaching! As we were in a random field we did not want to offend the farmer so I headed out to use my Turkish language skills, along with the book so I could try and get the words right. The shepherd was friendly and was only passing through so he had no issues with us staying there, or at least thats how it seemed 🙂
Officially today should be a 20km hike along asphalt and in between hundreds of greenhouses. We decided to follow Jurg’s suggestion and catch a Dolmus to Xanthos and start from there. Before finding the Dolmus stop we had a morning coffee on the beach, trying not to get too much sand in the bags, mugs and other equipment. Once we got to the station we were lucky enough for a driver to show up within five minutes, and then our Dolmus came within ten minutes, dropping us off within a kilometer of the town in Xanthos, where we stocked up on cash, groceries and had some tasty chicken sandwiches.
Our actual start time of the hike was fairly late and we had planned to hitch to the next town after checking out the ruins, unfortunately no one wanted to stop but the hiking was easy albeit in the warm sun. The greenhouses in this valley are supported by the water from the Incipar spring, there is a lot of water coming down from the hills, nice and cool for the tired feet when you stop for a break. Some of the hiking was along old roman walls with overgrown bushes, its time for some trail maintenance as its a challenge with the large bags. When we got to our final destination we had a bit of a scramble as some excavations were underway – it seems to be the human way to try and control every element of nature and to destroy everything we see.
We met a shepherd who was talking to us and signalling something about food, we thought he wanted to feed us, however after we set the tent up on a bench with a bit of a view of the valley, the shepherd returned and we realised he was hungry. The shepherds seem to spend all day in the mountains with their sheep and little food or water, in this area the water is not a concern as we found a nice well just up the road with an old stone entrance and lots of croaking frogs.
Day 6 – Incipar to Delikkemer, 15km. Trip total 81km.
Today is going to be an easy hike as its mainly downhill. The trail into Akbel was along farm tracks so easy mileage, and a decent sized town with plenty of supplies for lunch, we also took the opportunity to fill our water bottles to ensure we have enough for our evening drinks and morning coffee. The walk out of Akbel was along the road, eventually crossing a highway and climbing up the side of a hill. The trail then continues above the highway.
The going seemed good, easy hiking, not too hot…..then the scrub, just as you are enjoying the hike, you get around 4 or 5 km’s of sharp gorse enclosing the trail so you cannot take a step forward without your clothes getting caught or your bag scraping through the undergrowth. Some scratches were deep enough for blood to come to the surface, all over our legs and arms. Other hikers we encountered also had wounds and were also frustrated at a lack of any trail maintenance, if I had known I would have brought a machete and cut a path as we walked 😉
The final campsite we found was next to the old Roman ruins, with a good view over to Kalkan. We also had some entertainment from the sheep who wanted to come very close to tent to eat and tried to escape the shepherds when all of a sudden half the herd bolted through one of the aqueduct arches!