The Lycian Way is an epic long-distance hiking trail which follows the Teke peninsula in the Mediterranean part of South Turkey, taking explorers through nature, culture and time. Hikers will discover numerous fascinating historical sites along this route whilst at the same time exploring lessor known areas of Turkey’s natural beauty. From breath taking coastline to fruit-filled rural hamlets this trail will lead its’ followers on a truly enriching cultural adventure. With 509 km of walkway to cover, hiking the whole trail is a big commitment as it takes around a month to complete but choosing a section to hike for a day or two is still a very rewarding way to spend some of your holiday.
Following the Trail
The route, which was ‘launched’ in 1999 after a significant research project, is not comprised of one single road; it combines old Roman roads, forest trails and dirt tracks connecting an impressive total of 25 antiquated sites which tell the story of the great Lycian League. The intention for this project was to both preserve and share the ancient marvels which populate this epic trail and to bring tourism to more rural areas of Turkey.
A British/Turkish amateur historian named Kate Clow embarked on the mammoth task of researching, designing and waymarking this epic trail, rallying political and financial support and assembling a team of volunteers to help plan the best route. Furthermore, she has created fantastic resources to allow travellers to make the most out of the route including a guidebook for the trail and in collaboration with the Turkish Culture Routes Society a Lycian Way app (available on iphone and android) which gives extensive information on points of interest, contoured maps and accommodation options.
The standard waymarks for the route reflect the colours of the Turkish flag (although other colours are also used), you will see red and white rectangles painted on rocks and garden walls which are more frequent in areas where the trail curves and coils and less frequent on straighter parts of the route. There are also signposts along the route topped with the header Likya Yolu with yellow arrows below pointing in the direction of the nearest calling points in either direction of the walkway.
Embarking on the full 29 day journey required to complete the trail is almost certainly too great a challenge for most, however as the walkway is separated in to many different sections you could easily spend a few days of your holiday exploring parts of the trail. There are lots of great ‘short routes’ which could be completed in a day or two within relatively easy reach of our beloved town of Kalkan, the easiest of which is the 6 km section at the start of the trail leading from Ovacik, through Oludeniz with its’ breath taking Blue Lagoon and onto the Ghost town of Kayakoy.
Another moderate section of the walkway runs between Faralya and Kabak which follows rural roads through unspoiled forests and meadows and is approximately 8 km long. The small village of Faralya is located in an elevated position above the Butterfly Valley (unsurprisingly named due to over 100 species of butterflies being recorded in the valley) and there are a few highly recommended pansiyons as well as accommodation for campers in this tranquil spot with incredible views over the valley and out to sea. To add a real challenge to this section of the walkway you can descend down the butterfly valley to the beach but beware it is incredibly steep, with ropes fixed at the most difficult parts to help hikers and taking heavy rucksacks is not advised. Allow a few hours for this detour if you decide to take it to allow time for steady climbing as well as enjoying the views from the beach and a dip in the waters.
For a taste of traditional village life you could try the route which goes between the villages of Uzumlu, Islamlar, Bezirgan and Saribelen. These are all local villages to Kalkan which have kept their traditional charm and are scarcely populated with families of farmers and shepherds. Expect to see old stone houses, wooden “ambarlar” where food is stored on stilts, a multitude of orchards with organic fruit trees and friendly-faced locals and of course the odd Mosque.
Spring is a particularly good time to walk this section as the villages of Bezirgan and Saribelen are full of blossoming almond trees. This section of the route is 23 km long with a steep incline between Bezirgan and Saribelen, so by the time you get to the end you may want to stay in one of the pansiyons at Saribelen for the night and regain some strength.
All of the start and end points for the above short routes can be accessed by public transport in the form of the local dolmus services. These are small minibuses that charge a minimal fee and travel to other towns and main bus stations for connecting journeys.
Nature & Wildlife
As well as the incredible historical and social exploration the Lycian Way has to offer, the terrain of the trail itself holds many natural wonders. As you trek your way up soaring mountains, through extended valleys and along hidden coastal paths with secluded beaches you will observe profoundly beautiful scenery and become acquainted with a variety of native creatures.
Deer and wild goats are commonly spotted along the route along with porcupines, rabbits, red squirrels, lynx, tortoises and a variety of lizards including chameleons.
For bird spotters there are many species of birds which can be seen throughout the year due the mild climate and there are two rare breeds which you may come across: the Smyrna kingfisher and the wall climber.
There are endangered and dangerous animals which you may encounter along the way too. Snakes and scorpions live in certain mountainous areas along the trail so you should stay vigilant.
The endangered loggerhead turtles lay their eggs at both Patara beach and Cirali beach near to the site of Olympos and can often been seen in the turquoise waters along the coast; so if you decide to take a much needed dip in the sea to cool off along the way be sure to look out for their heads bobbing above the waves.
Where to sleep?
Most of the accommodation found along the Lycian Way route are family-run guesthouses (locally known as Pansiyons). Although these modest abodes may lack luxury they certainly make up for in traditional charm and warm hospitality. If the early parts of the routes appeal to you there are several quaint B&B’s to choose from. The Kayakoy Pansiyon is a reasonably priced 3 bedroomed wooden framed guest house in the heart of Kayakoy village near to many eateries.
At Faralya the Montenegro Motel and George House are well known hosts for partakers of the Lycian Way offering help with the routes and information on wildlife, flora and fauna to look out for. Montenegro has a number of traditional stone and timber chalets set in a beautifully maintained garden full of brightly coloured flowers. George House also allows campers to pitch their tents on their sea view terrace provided they make use of the restaurant for refreshments.
If the village route appeals to you the Hidden Garden is a great half-way stop off point between Islamlar and Akbel villages where you could spend the night before continuing on to Bezirgan village. Similar to the Kayakoy Pansiyon, Hidden Garden offers a number of wooden cabins for accommodation all nestled in thick greenery in a quiet location. Alternatively you could spend an evening at the much-loved Moonstone House in Saribelen, a welcoming haven after the elevating trek from Bezirgan village. If you are an animal lover you will be in your element here as the hosts take care of a large number of cats and dogs on their grounds.
What will you need?
As Lycian Way route leads through populated areas between its’ rural and historical calling points you don’t ned to worry too much about taking lots of food supplies or cooking equipment as there are plenty of options along the way. You can stock up at local convenience shops for snacks or take a break to have lunch and the accommodation available provide wonderful Turkish breakfasts and evening meals. Be sure to have bottles which you can refill with water at one of the many public water fountains along the route, you will also find villagers full or hospitality and are happy to share their water or provide refreshing Turkish cay or fresh fruit juice in their gardens.
Good hiking boots are a must as the trail cuts through rocky terrain and of course be sure to carry Turkish Lira as rural areas don’t tend to support card payments. Many of the archaeological sites have an entrance fee which you should keep in mind when planning your budget for any sections you plan to walk.
How can Kalkan Holiday Property Help?
If you are searching for a quality holiday property to stay in before or after walking any sections of the Lycian Way please get in touch and our professional team will be happy to assist. We can also advise you on more interesting sites to visit and help you plan your itinerary.