Going on holiday out of season is the best way to avoid the crowds, and with the lira offering good value for money Turkey’s Southern Aegean has areas that are largely undiscovered. Yet there is plenty to see and do for those interested in antiquities, sports, nature, and food. The area is mountainous and for nature lovers there are 470km of marked eco hiking, and 700km of biking trails. Accommodation at all levels as well as food is inexpensive.
Dalyan near to Dalaman airport is situated on the Koycegiz, a river that flows into the Mediterranean. Lycian rock tombs dating back to the 4th century BC are carved into the mountains, part of the ruins of the ancient city of Kaunos. The city, which dates back to the Carian period 1,000 years before Christ, also has ruins from the Greek and Roman periods. The ruins are just one of many that have been excavated in the area.
Fishing is allowed with grouper, grey mullet, sea bass, sea bream, and eel all in abundance as well as blue crab and rainbow trout in the river. The area is known for its’ turtle beaches, where from June to the end of August Caretta turtles, who return to the same spot every year, come to lay their eggs. People are allowed to share the sandy beaches although the nesting grounds are protected. A hospital on the beach cares for injured turtles.
Being a mountainous region, paragliding is one of the popular sports where those brave enough can, in tandem with a trained, experienced paraglider, jump from as high as 1,965m above sea level. A sport where you can’t be overweight as we found out when one of our party who is on the portly side, was told that he was too heavy. My fear of heights also prevented me from participating. Never-the-less, it was still exciting to watch my fellow companions ran off into the clouds, we were above them, to land on a sandy beach some distance away in the seaside resort of Oludeniz.
Fifty-five kilometres along the coast Fethiye with its marina and shops is geared to those looking for a livelier environment. With boats lining the marina, a trip on a gullet is a relaxing way of seeing, and visiting some of the twelve surrounding islands. On the trip I joined, breakfast of cheeses, salads, and drinks was included. Despite being winter, the sun was shining, and although not sun bathing weather, it was warm enough to enjoy my meal and the scenery outside on the top deck.
The Saklikent Canyon created by water flowing through the Tauras Mountains is one of the area’s attractions. 18km long, it is a heaven for rock climbers. I was able to walk a short way along the man-made bridge above the water but only those with the right equipment are allowed to go further. The canyon is managed by the country’s national parks, and therefore the entry fee is minimal.
Dogs are everywhere. The authorities pride themselves on looking after strays with most tagged and neutered. I was told that the locals feed, and look after them. None seemed wild, and in fact the ones that I encountered came up to be stroked. Around their necks, collars had the words ‘Please adopt me’.
The area has lots of olive trees. Its oil is used in beauty products as well as cooking. Sharing food is part of the Turkish culture and meze, small taster dishes are often served as a starter, the majority suitable for vegetarians. Fruit and vegetables tend to be seasonal, and grown locally. Freshly caught fish is always on the menu although barbecues, mainly with various cuts of lamb or goat, are also popular. Cubed Turkish jelly served with the coffee, comes in numerous flavours, sometimes with nuts, makes the ideal present.
My trip was organised by Eco Turkey Travel www.ecoturkey.com with flights from Heathrow on Turkish Airlines, which includes a change at Istanbul.
For 2019, Thomas Cook have direct flights to the area.
A Turkish Visa costing $20 that can be bought online, is required.
Journey time on the Heathrow Express is 15 minutes from Paddington Station.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends CV Villas.