I Have Trekked the Lycian Way, And It Was Awesome.

The only way to get prepared to the Lycian way is to trek the Lycian way. This is the true and exact formula, believe me.

We, a group of eight Ukrainian enthusiasts, have chosen this route due to many reasons: it’s challenging, it’s fun. A possibility to get drowned in Turkish culture and nature. To gaze at the beautiful Mediterranean landscapes from the deserted mountain tops blown by dry and hot winds of Sahara. Sound tempting, uh?
Besides, trekking in general is fun, especially when you trek with family and good old friends who all share a passion for travelling and exploring.

Lycian Way offers a diversity of trekking options: different routes applicable both for short and long-term journeys; accommodations for those who like comfort; possibility of low-budget trekking with hundreds of beautiful places for camping; romantic paths along the sea-side and challenging mountain trails.

Kate Clow, who originally researched, designed and described the route almost 20 years ago, asks 22.5 Euros for her hard copy book. At the same time there are hundreds of free resources where you can find all required descriptions and tracks for this path.

Our route from Hisarçandır to Çıralı was based on numerous reviews and articles found in the web.

Our route is highlated by red. Definitely, not the most detailed map :) WARNING — DO NOT USE IT WHILE HIKING.

Below are some tips for those, who want to start the route from Hisarçandır:

Right near the Antalya airport entrance, there is a small Otogar (bus station) where you can find the bus No 800 (schedule here)which heads to Gursu district. When you are in Gursu, wait for bus No 515 (schedule here), it will take you right to the trail initial point at Hisarçandır. If you need any gas containers I recommend buying them in Tibet Outdoor Shop. This is one of three places in Antalya where gas in cartridges (for Kovea portable stoves) is available. Shop’s owner — Mr. Gökmen Göktaş, showed pure Turkish generosity by agreeing to come to our guesthouse in Gursu late Sunday night and bringing us three cartridges of gas. In case of need, you can contact him using the details mentioned on his website.

Day 1. Hisarçandır — Sarıçınar Dağı

Early wake-up at luxurious apartments in Antalya (booking.com had only this option for eight people) felt like a wake-up in a forest camp — total mess! Unpacked backpacks, food supplies, running alarms on mobiles, trekking boots, and trekking poles near each bed! Nothing but hot water in the shower reminded us about surrounding civilization that morning!

At 7:00 we caught the 515 bus (here) and in 50 minutes were at the beginning of the trail in Hisarçandır. After 3 hours of walking, we had to make a halt as Antonio’s both boots fell to pieces (actually, boots were mine — a pair of good leather Ecco boots with Gore-tex and Vibram…). We both had to come back to Antalya to find an alternative, as flip-flops were not the best option for walking through upcoming rocky trails. Thanks to the local driver (Viva La hitchhiking!) we could promptly reach Antalya’s “Big Migros” shop in the centre, and equipped Antonio with well-made 20 bucks Chinese boots which actually did a great job during the whole Turkish campaign.

While Antonio and I were searching for a pair of boots in Antalya, and while everybody was waiting for us under the old pines, Mishiko was listening to the sound of his and Daniko’s burning calories. I don’t know where they have found the “pool” but I can’t stop laughing while looking at this crazy gif :)

Coming back to the trail from Antalya and joining the group was a challenging task for us, as taxi drivers asked +/- 70 liras to bring us there. Expensive! We somehow managed to get to the road heading to Hisarcandir and hitchhiked a car with a local family.

Antonio and I in a back of a truck on our way to the mountains.

Father who drove the pickup even managed to introduced his beautiful daughter to us. Those people living in villages are very pleasant and kind! (Interesting fact: while hitchhiking — only old vehicles stopped and drivers asked if they can assist. New cars never stopped).

In Hisarçandır, right at the start of the trail, we met a tourist from Algeria — Amir. He, a lonely passionate traveller with a light backpack, who had already finished all of the Algerians trekking routes, was searching for new travelling horizons and it was his first day at Lycian way. Amir kindly accepted my invitation to join our group.

A place for the first camp was amazing. A lot of fresh spring water, flat ground for tents and well-made wooden tables for the upcoming feast! After dinner, we went to local houses to buy some ekmek (bread) and were attracted by an old man — Mr. Ahmet Okul, who stood near his house and offered çay (tea). Why not to drink some tea with locals and ask for bread ? Actually Mr. Okul and his hospitable wife heard a sound of KA-CHING when they saw us, but still, they did a great dinner — fried eggs, ekmek, tomatoes, cucumbers and of course çay. That night we witnessed a true highland Turkish ceremony of preparing tea with çaydanlık, a double tea kettle, and armudu, a special drinking glass — both unique instruments of Turkish kitchen. Hundred liras was the price of pleasure for six persons. Totally worth it.

Day 2. From Sarıçınar Dağı to Saricinar Pinari.

A wake-up I was waiting for so long. Lying in the warm sleeping bag in a cozy tent, under the huge pine trees. Mmm… Ain’t this a sultan’s apartment? A rather cold morning, though…Sweet tea from the cooking pot and a plate of oatmeal with bananas, mango, and pineapple, drizzled with honey — were the strong strokes finalizing that morning’s picture…

Our tent and sunrise.
Our camp in the morning.

Before noon-time we had a responsible and dangerous task, a base camp hike to ascend the 1620th(!) highest mountain in Turkey — Saricinar Dagi (1583 m).
As Amir was quite limited in time, he decided to leave us earlier and not to wait for our comeback from Saricinar Dagi. As it turned out later, he regretted this decision much, as he took the wrong path, lost his way, fell from the rocks, received plenty of cuts and injuries, lost water, ate herbs at night to quench his thirst, came back home, caught a flue. What a story! What a man!

That day we also had some adventures. At first, following Amir’s bad luck we lost the track on the same place where he did, and lost about two hours searching for trail signs. Running out of time, we were caught by the night, and had to use our headlights and flashlights to continue walking. Orienting in the forest at night is a daunting task, as the trail is almost impossible to find, besides it’s quite dangerous. But through it all we were quite optimistic, as route description taken from the internet said our campsite will be “on a beautiful forest meadow with gurgling spring covered by the platan’s branches”. Having in mind this picture I was ready to hike all the night! One hour later Misha declared “We are on a camping point”. Taking into account that his Garmin navigator almost always says the truth, it sounded like a joke, as turning the head around I just saw only bushes and rocks. Oh, on site…OK. I expected to see slightly different picture… After minutes of searching in the total dark we found a fireplace and arrows on stones showing the direction to water site. Following these arrows, Misha and Sergio found a place, where water was meant to be…in former times… Just a wet spot… Even though I did not buy an official trekking guide, at that moment I had some question to Miss Katherine Clow, as her official app available on AppStore said “Saricinar pinari(auth. — water sight) seems run all the year”. It seems… O.K.
Anyway, no water — no dinner. We had nothing to do just to clear the campsite from stones, tree brunches, and scorpions and go to sleep. WAIT…. THE SCORPIONS ? Dozens of them chilled out almost under every big rock…

Daniko made great night video and photo of scorpions.

Day 3. Saricinar Pinari — Goynuk Canyon — Gedelme-Göynük Yaylası

I’ve already got used to Daniko’s early wake ups. Not to be idle at 5 a.m., he usually crafts things, repairs outfit, shakes our tents to check if we are still alive. This time was different. He went to the spring place, that yesterday seemed to be totally dried, excavated a well on the bottom of which the water started to leak out. In an hour the well was filled with clear drinkable water enough to cook breakfast and fill our bottles. A true hero among us. We drank tea and hailed his name celebrating his survival skills.

Goynuk Canyon as it turned out was a quite popular tourist’s spot. For 12$ local agency provides you with helmet, diving suit and life jacket, and grants access to the canyon. The number of simultaneous visitors is limited here, in order to exclude queues during the canyon passing. Visiting this site was a pure joy and fun. The first part of canyon meant to be swam in arctic cold water, the second one had to be walked through the slippery stones. Canyon’s third, and the last available part had to be crawled while swimming. It’s a miracle that none of us broke a leg or caught pneumonia that day.

The time pushed us, as we have to leave the canyon, get over the another ridge, and descend to the next overnight stop near the river. Unfortunately once again the night caught us long before reaching the destination point. When it’s getting dark in such places, it’s interesting how the perception of surrounding space changes. It seems that all around is limited by the visible light of our flashlights like you are standing in a small tunnel. The feeling of huge open-spaces is almost gone at night, and you just have to follow the light tunnel of your head lamp.

Mishiko at night.

Our water supplies were low and the entire group was exhausted because of continuous ascend. We took a five minutes rest to decide whether to camp right where we stopped or to continue walking to planned location.
We moved forward. Jokes and talks were gone with the last sunlight. We were descending for about one hour when Daniel, who led the way suddenly said:

— “Look, an undershirt on a tree”
 — “It is not the undershirt, it is a shirt”… a reply followed from the dark.

We all stopped. It turned out that we have met our compatriot — Igor from Pyriatyn / Ukraine, who trekked the same route and has already put his tent in a convenient meadow near the well spring. At a glance — he was a middle-aged man, simply dressed in clean white shirt and cotton shorts below the knee with rubber slippers on his feet. Definitely not the look of a lonely traveller, more like an amateur.

No doubt we had to join his company and camp near him as no more strength were left for further descending.
All together we shared a tasty dinner near the fireplace and told our stories. He hiked alone, with tons of papers, printed maps, and descriptions copied from different tourists forums and trekking guides. He had much more information than we did, and provided us with a lot of necessary details in respect of the upcoming route. 
As it turned out, my first impression of him was wrong.
He was a competent and skilled tourist, with experience of noncommercial single trekking to the Everest base camp in Nepal. Equipped with outfit, clothes and food supplies required for a long single travelling, with a strict daily plan, unlike us, whose travelling looked more like improvisation… Yet, he was simple and modest.

Day 4. Heading to Yayla Kuzdere

All together we continued our descent to the river, where we had to sleep last night. Luckily, we did not get to this place last night as it appeared the river was totally dried. Our way was headed through the little rocky trails through the forest, later — through the picturesque Göynük Canyon with a lot of pleasant places for swimming and drinking water. Then we get to the dried dirt road which finally brought us to Göynük Yayla (plato) where we found a house of Mr. Nadir Kaptan and his assistant David. They looked like “Meh… tourists…”. Definitely not the most hospitable ones.

This place provided a free spot for camping, drinking water, shower, and Wi-Fi. Also, some fresh juices, olives, ekmek and eggs are available for cash. When I started to haggle over the meal’s price, David made а face expression like “Man, we are the only one who sell food in this abandoned neighbourhood, around — only wastelands…What you think you doing?”. We had to accept the prices and ordered omelette with salad, and asked Mr. Kaptan to give us a lift to a small village Yayla Kuzdere (about 20 km) which was the last settlement before Tahtali Dagi (mountain), as we were out of the planned schedule. It was a good idea as we bought extra time for us.
Igor decided not to join us as car rides were out of his plan.

Yayla Kuzdere was a very friendly place with lots of good spots for camping. Almost every part of roadside had pomegranate, lemon and fig trees. I ate too much of these fruits. Acid made my teeth so sensitive that it was hard not only to eat but also to inhale the cold air.

We’ve made a camp right near the road in front of a fruit garden, not far from the beautiful mosque.

The place was good, so was the evening. We had enough time to eat, laugh, and plan the following day.

Day 5. From Yayla Kuzdere to Western foot of Tahtali Dagi

Anna & Antonio — “the Shaprano’s clan”, who showed truly outstanding results in mountain trekking (as for noobies), decided to leave the group, as Anna’s knee was injured and every day it became harder for her to continue the journey. As we decided to meet again in Çıralı, they took the road to Kemer. We moved up to the western foot of Tahtali Dagi through the beautiful old forest.

In four hours we were at the destination. A huge plato looked like a stadium surrounded by the tribunes of cliffs and stones. In the distance, right near the rocky road, a farm was located with some locals working. The place was filled with hundreds of goats and cows and tons of their pancakes.

Sergio, a panorama master, made a great picture of the whole place

One of the most important things for a good camping is water. We had a lot of it this time. Local pond had out-of-this-world taste. It was renewed constantly from mountain springs so we even had a possibility to wash and shave right near the drinking cows and goats. The best spa procedures ever…

During campfire preparations and while guys were cooking the dinner, I had a lot of time to shoot the stars and surrounding beauties. The absence of artificial city lights and missing moon, made a Milky Way so bright and clear, that taking pictures of it was quite an easy task. The night was amazing. And very cold.

A very old pine (1000+ years old)

Day 6. Tahtali teleferik — Çıralı

Sea, which we saw only form the mountain height was awaiting for our pale and exhausted bodies, calling to loose ourselves in deep blue waters. Impossible to resist. That’s why we decided to make the sixth day as the last day of our walking journey and reach Çıralı by the evening.
Keeping in mind the upcoming trekking finish, we were quite enthusiastic and reached the top of Olympus by the noon time.

Guess who we met on our way to the top ? Yeah, it was Igor… He somehow managed to leave us behind and reach the top earlier than we did.

During the ascend it was difficult to enjoy the panoramic views, as the trail was hard to hike due to heavy backpacks, unstable and always sliding rocks. Nevertheless we’ve made it.

Reaching the top height of the trail is always rewarding and inspiring.
Regardless the comparatively low altitude, the sun on the height of 2,366 meters burned the skin very fast and it became hot immediately once you stay uncovered. Hiding in the shadows was not an option as it became cold as fast as you step in there.

At the top of Tahtali dagi.

Going down by the cable road was quite expensive — 16 Euros per person. I wonder — why not to reward those who climbed the Tahtali by making the descend for free ?

Right near the cable-car station we picked up a dolmus (little bus), headed to Çıralı, where we instantly found a camping and settled there for three days.

Days 7, 8 Çıralı chilling

Camping in Çıralı was amazing. Sahil’s campsite hidden in the orange garden, with hundreds of green, yet tasty, oranges hanging over our tents, with big bright kitchen, toilets, showers, AC plugs, WiFi, chairs, tables, shops and bicycle rentals -everything you need only for 13 Liras per person a day. A bargain!
Two days of pure rest, swimming and sunbathing at beautiful long beach with free sun-loungers, cafes along the seaside and beautiful mountain views. 
“The Telegraph” says Çıralı beach is in the list of the best beaches on Mediterranean. Of course this is just an author’s opinion, but I can totally agree with it.

Two obligatory things to do in Çıralı— visit the famous Chimaera, a place where rocks breath with hot flames, and Olympos — an ancient city with lots of Roman ruins.

What I’ve learned while camping here — chilling out on the beautiful Mediterranean beaches can be affordable even for a low-budget travelling. All you need is just a passion for travelling and the good company.

Days 9, 10 Antalya

Leaving the paradise was not that hard as we had enough of sea, sun and palms. The only available destination was Antalya where we spent our final days of these great, though short, journey.

Thank you guys!

Daniko, Lera, Anna & Antonio, Igor, Nastya, Mishiko, I, Sergio.
21/10/2016